Monday Morning Coffee

Rio Flames

August 22nd, 2016

The 2016 Olympic Games came to a close last night, and for those of you who actually watched it, you know it was memorable. The U.S. won 121 medals, 18 more than the last Olympics. For the most part, the men’s and women’s track team were a big improvement from the disaster that was 2012. The U.S. relay teams were great, they dominated the field events, and surprised in the distance running events. More importantly, the team culture and character was much improved from the high school like drama that symbolized the last Olympic track team. Allyson Felix is nothing but class. She graciously took the silver medal in the 400 meters and made no complaints about the somewhat controversial dive her opponent made at the end. Then she overcame what initially looked like a disqualification in the 4×100 relay, and was instrumental in helping the team win the gold in that event. Finally, she helped the 4×400 relay team win gold by running a spectacular last leg, and became the most decorated female track athlete in U.S. history. If only we could duplicate her work ethic and character with every single one of our track athletes. My only gripe is that our U.S. male sprinters not only didn’t deliver, but acted idiotic too. Justin Gatlin was a fool in the 200 meter semi finals, showing off just before the finish line, and letting three people pass him, causing him to miss the finals. It’s time for a new crop of U.S. male sprinters to take over 2020. I’m done with the old guys who have been busted for PED’s.

Bolt fun

Elsewhere around the summer games, Ryan Lochte is like a real life version of the guy from “Dude Where’s My Car”. Of course he made up that story about getting robbed. He was probably baked out of his mind. Usain Bolt is a lot of fun to watch, but there’s no question that Michael Phelps is a greater Olympian. Phelps competes in twice as many events as Bolt in every Olympics, and as great as the Jamaican is, his work ethic is nothing like Phelps. It’s still hard for me to believe that somehow, an island of two million people has generated five of the six fastest male sprinters over the last eight years. Sounds like some serious institutionalized doping to me. Keri Walsh had a great beach volleyball run of dominance that came to an end, but she and April Ross should still be applauded for their bronze medal. Walsh looked like she lost her confidence for a second, but got it back quickly to make the podium. She definitely increased the popularity of the sport over the years. Then there’s Simon Biles, who is the best female gymnast I have ever seen.  I don’t want to be prisoner of the moment and say “ever”.  Her boyfriend should give her a hall pass for a couple of weeks with Zac Efron.

It was definitely a relief to see the U.S. men’s basketball team win the gold. Most of them probably would have been deported had they not. This is probably the only time players from the Knicks, Clippers, and Kings will ever win something important. Harrison Barnes did nothing but sit on the bench for the last two weeks, so his gold medal should be a Hershey’s chocolate instead. The team was definitely flawed with a lot of one-on-one players, however, don’t underestimate Coach K figuring out the right mix. You also can’t underestimate that the U.S. lucked out with a lot of other countries aging, and not having all their best players. An Olympic gold medal is a fantastic accomplishment, but of course DeAndre Jordan would say it’s more important than an NBA Championship. That’s because only a Clipper would say that.

Speaking of the NBA, what another terrible signing the Lakers made last week by bringing in Yi Jianlin for $8 million. Jim Buss must have been incredibly impressed by his willingness to sign with the team. This guy hasn’t been in the NBA in years, yet somehow he’s getting $8 million. I also can’t envision how he’s going to get minutes. The Lakers have Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr. playing most of the minutes at power forward. Yi was a very ineffective center during his last stint in the NBA, and was far more effective as a power forward. If you’ve never seen him play, all you need to know is that last week when the US destroyed China, NBC analyst Doug Collins, acted shocked that he actually knew how to play basketball.

The fact that the Dodgers are battling the Giants for 1st place blows my mind. The Boys in Blue managed to lose three in a row to the Phillies and Red, have a pitching staff that is being held together by chicken wire, yet they are in the thick of the pennant race. LA and San Francisco will battle it out this week for a three game set at the Ravine. The Dodgers need Clayton Kershaw and Andre Ethier back from injury to give themselves a real chance, despite the fact that Giants have been atrocious in the 2nd half the season. The real question is whether or not the team will continue to use Julio Urias if he continues to pitch well like has been. Urias was supposed to be on an innings limit of about 115 this year, and he’s rapidly approaching that. Starting him in a playoff game would be way more sensible than starting Scott Kazmir, Bud Norris, or Brett Anderson, who are all capable of spectacular failures on the mound in any given moment. Of course Andy Friedman is probably torturing numbers right now in some way that will convince Dave Roberts to start one of those three stiffs in the most important games of the season.

Meanwhile, the Angels season from hell has a little over a month to go. The Halos haven’t been this bad since ’99, and only the D’Backs, Braves, and Twins are worse than them. Two of those teams aren’t even trying to win! I have no idea why the Angels didn’t start tanking two months ago, because that’s effectively when their season ended. Other than a full blown rebuild, the Angels options for improving their roster are about as bad as our options for a Presidential candidate this fall. As good as Mike Trout is, and as big of a name Albert Pujols still is, fans are much more intelligent than most owners give them credit for. The Angel fans would rather see a team built the right way that is going to compete, rather than this smoke and mirrors concept of “staying competitive” that Billy Eppler and Arte Moreno are trying to sell us.

To the NFL where the Rams made it 2-0 with another preseason win, this time over the Chiefs. I think we’ve reached the point where Jeff Fisher should name Case Keenum his starting quarterback.  The competition between Jared Goff and Keenum is about as competitive as a Usain Bolt 100 meter dash.  Goff still shows you some flashes of skill, which make him a likely bet to become the starter down the line, however, the Rams have much bigger problems than that.  LA’s secondary has been getting torched like there’s been riots at the Coliseum, and their receivers are dropping more balls than Times Square.  Jeff Fisher claims this team isn’t going 8-8, 9-7, 7-9, or hovering around .500 in any way, shape, or form.  He better figure out a way to get those two areas fixed or else this team is going to be a lot worse than that.

Goff

Finally, great start to the college football season by those Notre Dame Fighting Irish.  The Irish basically lost their entire starting defensive backfield, and a total of 6 players, due to complete stupidity over the weekend.  Senior starting safety Max Redfield was kicked off the team, and senior cornerback Devin Butler was suspended indefinitely, highlighting these six morons that were disciplined.  I get that kids smoke weed, play some hackey sack, and then figure out what their next entree is at Taco Bell.  However, why would any of these kids need to carry around a gun with them? Still, this isn’t Ohio State or Alabama, and I mean that for the better.  Props to Brian Kelly for taking action against these clowns, and teaching them a bigger life lesson, as opposed to just letting them play.  This is nothing new for Notre Dame.  Last season they were devastated by injuries and disciplinary issues, yet found a way to make it to the Fiesta Bowl.  I wouldn’t expect any less competitiveness this year.

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.

Monday Morning Coffee

Josh Reddick LA

August 8th, 2016

I’ve been saying it for more almost two years now.  The Dodgers need to trade Yasiel Puig.  Andrew “Jones” Friedman and his bumbling front office have completely destroyed his trade value.  Puig’s trade value is about as valuable right now as a promise from Hillary Clinton, and now LA is stuck with his piss poor attitude, or forced to get rid of him without compensation.  Just think, one year ago the Dodgers could have traded Puig for David Price, Aroldis Chapman, or Cole Hamels.  In other words, the one player that could have made them World Series Champions for the first time since 1988.  If that’s not bad enough, two years ago they could have traded him for Giancarlo Stanton.  Apparently Puig had the equivalent of a babysitter in Tim Bravo his first couple of years, but Bravo is no longer with the club.  The fact Puig is being sent to the minors while hitting .260 tells you just how terrible of a teammate he is, and how much people can’t stand him.  So now we’re left with the underwhelming Josh Reddick and Rich Hill trade.  Both have been useless since being acquired.  We are supposed to believe that Reddick is that much better than Puig? The guy can’t even hit left handed pitching.  Remember when the Dodgers had four stud outfielders? Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, and what you thought was a stud in Puig? They are all gone now, and they’ve hung on to the worst of the four.  LA is luckier than a leprechaun right now, since their starting pitching is mediocre at the moment, yet the Giants have been awful for over a month.  The Dodgers could be so good, but their leadership in the front office will forever hold them back.

What’s with every baseball team honoring David Ortiz? The Dodgers did so on Friday, and the Angels did a few weeks ago.  We know that he used steroids in the steroid era, and although he actually has never failed a drug test, nobody thinks he’s on PED’s? He’s 40 years old, and somehow he’s got a higher batting average than he’s had in almost a decade, and he’s going to hit nearly 40 home runs.  Yea that’s not suspicious at all, yet we are giving him the farewell tour in every ballpark he goes to.  None of the other steroid users like Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens were given this type of treatment.  Just because Ortiz is smart enough to beat the system, doesn’t mean he’s not as guilty as the rest of them.

What a weird trade the Angels made at the deadline.  The Halos are desperate for quality starting pitching, yet they traded away cost controlled starting pitcher Hector Santiago to Minnesota, in exchange for pitchers Alex Meyer and Ricky Nolasco.  Meyer is a prospect who has had shoulder problems, who the Angels are gambling on.  Ricky Nolasco is awful, and he’s the new Tim Lincecum, because Lincecum was released over the weekend.  It won’t be long before Nolasco is next.  GM Billy Eppler seemed to just shrug his shoulders and chalk it up to having to take a chance on somebody.  Didn’t they take a chance a frail pitcher like Andrew Heaney? Didn’t they take a chance Josh Hamilton? It feels like they have taken risks that aren’t so calculated, and this is another in a long line of them that is bound to not work out.  I wasn’t sure if the Halos could make their pitching any worse in 2017, yet somehow they managed to do so without even improving their farm system.  At least Mike Trout is still making super human plays….

I have been totally glued to the Olympics this weekend, however, I completely understand why the Opening Ceremony got poor ratings.  It wasn’t because of the tape delay.  The Olympics have been tape delayed for years.  It’s because people are disgusted with the IOC, and the fact that they’ve even put the games in Brazil.  As for the ceremony itself, it was rather underwhelming compared to the show put on in London and China in the last two summer Olympics.  Funny how Brazil had enough money to spend on that Opening Ceremony, but not enough to provide clean water, pluming, or enough to clean up all the criminal activity.  I also found the focus on the environment hilarious when the water is the most polluted anybody has ever seen.  It’s very disappointing that they can’t even fill up these stadiums and arenas because the locals can’t afford the tickets, and the tourists are just too scared to go.  The new competitions in this years games should include: how to escape a mugging, swimming in sewage water, and track and field – Zika version.

As for the games themselves, the Team USA men and women’s basketball steam rolled their competition early on.  I thought the Chinese were just going to forfeit and play Pokemon Go instead.  Good thing Draymond Green didn’t kick anybody in the balls in that game, otherwise a Chinese man might have died.  Michael Phelps reminded us yesterday that he’s probably the best swimmer of all time (and maybe the greatest Olympian), but Katie Ledecky is the most dominant swimmer ever.  Speaking of dominance, Simone Biles not winning the all around gold medal in women’s gymnastics would be even more shocking than the US Men’s Basketball team losing.  US Men’s Volleyball is now getting destroyed in Olympic matches by Canada? That’s shameful, but not as shameful as the Brazil men’s soccer team tying with Iraq.  I miss the Misty-May Treanor & Kerri Walsh Jennings duo in beach volleyball, however, the Jennings-April Ross duo is pretty damn good as well.  I love how Olympic ping pong is only played by Asians, none of whom actually play for Asian countries.  That’s probably because white guys play beer pong.  I love watching all these very obscure sports in the Olympics.   However, I don’t care if it’s referring to women’s Olympic weight lighting, nobody in their right mind can keep a straight face when the announcers keep using the term “snatch” and “clean and jerk”.

Major League Baseball has proven over the years that it has a serious problem marketing their players.  This was magnified when last year, Cubs’ 3rd Baseman, Kris Bryant, drove around as an Uber Driver, yet nobody in Chicago recognized him.  Many of those people that rode in his car claimed they were huge Cubs fans.  I bring this up because baseball is coming back to the Olympics in 2020.  The World Baseball Classic is interesting to nobody.  However on the Olympic stage, Major League Baseball players competing would be great television.  This would require the MLB to adjust the schedule for a couple of weeks in the summer to allow players to play.  The NHL does it for the Olympics, and it’s by far the best Winter Olympic sport.  Since the NBA has been spending pros to the games, the game has exploded globally.  If Rob Manfred were smart, he would figure out a way to make this happen, and the players would probably love to do it.

To the NBA, where Russell Westbrook has shocked us all by signing a re-negotiated contract extension with the Thunder.  On one hand, this has to be a bummer for Laker fans, who were holding out hope Westbrook would sign with the team as a free agent next summer.  He seemed like a logical candidate to return to LA since he’s from here.  Had he been available in a trade, giving up all the teams’ young talent for him wouldn’t have been smart.  However, the extension may not be all that bad.  Westbrook is essentially under contract for two more seasons, and then he can test the free agent market.  In one year from now, the Lakers probably won’t be that good.  However in two years from now, they could be a playoff team if things break right and their young players develop.  That would put the Lakers back in position to sign Westbrook and/or DeMarcus Cousins, who will hit free agency then as well.  However, whatever way you look at it, the Lakers young players have to become very good players to have a successful rebuild.

Jared Goff was looking really good on Saturday at the Coliseum during the Rams scrimmage.  I still don’t think Jeff Fisher is going to start him early on.  The schedule is a mine field in the first several weeks.  Three of the first four are on the road, and will consist of games against San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa Bay, and Arizona.  Considering they have to play the Panthers, and travel to New Orleans and New England to close out the regular season, a 7-9 season would almost be an accomplishment.  As long as Goff develops nicely and Gurley emerges as an elite back, they can build on that moving forward.

Couldn’t A-Rod have waited at least a couple of days before making this announcement yesterday that he was essentially retiring? Even if this was a decision made by the Yankees, at least let Mark Teixeira have a week of enjoyment after he announced his retirement just the other day.  As for A-Rod’s career, he should go down as one of the greater position players in the history of the game, Unfortunately though, his legacy is somewhat tarnished by wasted postseason potential, along with his documented Performance Enhancing Drug usage.

Finally, this has really been killing me.  I mean we really have to get on the same page here as a country.  It’s a major issue that needs to be resolved.  When we go to the checkout counter of a retail store, are we swiping our cards, or are we using the chip reader? For the love of God, make up your mind retail stores! I thought everybody was supposed to be using the chip reader.  Then some merchants install it, then tell you not to use it, and slide your credit card instead.  You go to the next merchant, and you attempt to slide the card, then they scold you and tell you to use the chip reader.  Then you are confused, while the person in line behind you give you the death stare because you are taking too long.  If only more merchants would have Apple Pay then this crisis could be averted.

Monday Morning Coffee

Puig

August 1st, 2016

We’ve reached the baseball trade deadline, and the Dodgers do not look like they are going to do anything of significance yet.  Even though they have until 1 pm PST on Monday to do so, don’t hold your breath.  The Boys In Blue have crept within 2 games of the Giants in the NL West, and have a 2 game lead in the wild card standings.  However, Andrew Friedman and the Dodger front office probably look at where they are as a pleasant surprise.  LA has less talent than in previous years, and their next wave of talent is still developing.  The trade market is complete garbage (as is the coming free agent market), so less than impactful players are commanding premium talent.  It’s like a Ford dealer asking $100,00 for a Prius, because there aren’t that many Ferrari’s available.  Still, a player like Jay Bruce makes too much sense for the Dodgers, because they need power in their lineup, and they shouldn’t have to give up top tier prospects to get him.  I guess that explains why all they want to give up is Yasiel Puig, who’s play is about as consistent as Hilary Clinton is on any social or economic issue.    I also love how Dodgers reliever Adam Liberatore told the LA Times that he’s the best left hander in baseball.  Is Clayton Kershaw dead and we just don’t know about it? That’s a pretty awkward statement for Liberatore to make considering arguably the best left-hander of all time is his teammate.

Then there’s the Angels, who endured a rough weekend against the Red Sox.  The Halos ended up splitting four games with Boston, but closer Huston Street blew yesterday’s game in brutal fashion, giving up 5 runs in the 9th inning.  Street cost the Halos last season down the stretch as well, blowing a crucial game against the Astros that probably prevented the Angels from making the playoffs.  At least this year the team won’t have to worry about his games costing them the playoffs, because they stink even when he doesn’t blow games.  On the bright side, Tyler Skaggs looks great, while Matt Shoemaker and Hector Santiago are looking more and more reliable.  In fact, teams have been calling the Angels about Santiago and Shoemaker, but the Angels are hesitant to give up any cost controlled pitching when they barely have any healthy arms for next year.  I’ve never seen a situation like this before: a team that can’t afford to be buyers or sellers.  It’s the worst possible situation, and one that sets up the Angels as no better than a .500 team for the next three years.

For years people criticized Michael Jordan for not being outspoken enough against social issues.  Finally, MJ stepped up and not only spoke out against police brutality against African Americans, but also made a $2 million donation to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the Institute for Community Police Relations.  Still, journalists like Kevin Blackistone are finding a way to criticize Jordan for his actions.  Blackistone suggested that he donate his money elsewhere, like the Black Lives Matter movement, and also felt that Jordan should encourage Hanes to bring jobs back to the US from overseas.  These types of criticisms are ridiculous because Jordan is simply trying to be part of the solution, and not part of the problem.  How much money did Blackistone donate to Black Lives Matter? Jordan can’t be criticized for putting his money in the place where he feels is best to solve the problem.  Also, the notion that bringing back jobs to the US will suddenly improve relations between policemen and African Americans is shortsighted.  Jordan should absolutely be applauded for stepping up and speaking out.  As for why he never acted before, his livelihood was never impacted the way social issues impacted the livelihood of Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, and Jim Brown.  Times change, and Jordan should be credited with adapting to the changing social environment around us.

The Clippers are reportedly exploring options to move to a new arena.  It’s about time this happened, however, it won’t be easy.  The Clippers are the bastard child of the Los Angeles sports market.  They have their best team they’ve ever had, yet their popularity is unchanged.  Do you have any idea how difficult it’s going to be to get approval to build an arena on the westside of Los Angeles? I highly doubt Steve Ballmer could get the approval to build in Santa Monica, Westwood, or even Inglewood.  Look how hard it was just to get a football stadium approved in Inglewood. That makes me think he would consider Orange County, but suburban stadium and arena building is becoming a thing of the past.  There’s still some conspiracy theorests that think this is all the start of a ploy to eventually move the team to Seattle.  However, those that think that just don’t understand business.  Even as the least relevant sports franchise in the Los Angeles market, the Clippers are still far more valuable in Los Angeles than they are in Seattle.  The same way a piece of real estate is more valuable in Southern California than it is many other places in this country, the Clippers can command more TV money in LA than in Seattle.  The Nets just recently built a beautiful new arena in Brooklyn but it didn’t make them any more relevant compared to the Knicks in New York.  Expect the same with the Clippers if they build a new arena.

The next time the NBA collective bargaining agreement is negotiated, it’s going to be interesting to see which way the owners decide to go.  Do they care more about making money, or competitive balance?  During the last negotiation, it appeared as though they wanted competitive balance, but in the end it was all about profitability.  Now there’s whispers that they want more competitive balance again.  They hate the idea of super teams, like the one Kevin Durant just created by signing with the Golden State Warriors.  If the owners are really serious about competitive balance, they might consider a rule that allows them to place a “franchise tag” on one player on their roster.  Under that rule they could pay one player as much as they wanted without it counting against the salary cap.  That would likely eliminate super teams from being created, but the owners might balk at that since it would cost them quite a bit of money.  Just think, a player like Lebron James might get $50 million a year from a team.  Even though that might eliminate the super teams, it would give the bigger markets a competitive advantage over the smaller markets when bidding for superstars.  It would also expose certain owners as being cheap or more frugal than others.  Ultimately, I think the owners care more about profitability than anything else, but we’ll find out come the next negotiation.

What a great turnout the Rams had at UC Irvine over the weekend as training camp opened up.  10,000 fans showed up on Saturday, and they had another great turnout on Sunday.  I stopped by for a couple of hours to watch practice, and the energy surrounding the team was incredible.  Jared Goff looked a lot better in the last two days than he did at the end of OTA’s.  However, it probably won’t matter who the Rams quarterback is because they really don’t have any reliable wide receivers who can make plays.  The teams success is going to rest on their defense, and how effective they can run the football with Todd Gurley, who looks like one of the best backs in the game.  We’ll see how long the honeymoon lasts, but this is definitely going to be a brutal division to play in.  Also, now that Nick Foles has been released by the Rams, he should have plenty of free time to film Napolean Dynamite 2.

Foles

Elsewhere around NFL training camps, Tony Romo decided to add 20 LBS of fat to protect his collarbone, since the Cowboys offensive line couldn’t do so.  The Titans have signed Andre Johnson.  His retirement plans is to play on a worse AFC South team this year.  Anquan Boldin will sign with the Lions.  At 106 years old, he should be an excellent replacement for Calvin Johnson.  Josh Gordon celebrated his re-instatement with a few more bong rips.  Starting next Sunday, there will be professional football every Sunday until February.  Unless of course you live in Cleveland.  It’s going to be hilarious when Ryan Fitzpatrick returns to his horrendous play after his dramatic contract standoff with the Jets.

Someone asked me about Sharknado yesterday, and why they needed to make four of these movies.  I explained that this was a very complex question.  One that is similar to “what happens after we die?” Or “Are there other forms of life in the universe?”  Then again, those questions can probably also be answered just by watching a movie or two on the SyFy channel.  Sure enough Sharknado 4 premiered last night on SyFy, and once again, this mock buster nearly broke Twitter.  This movie actually featured Gary Busey, who was a mad scientist.  I think it’s far more likely a Sharknado occurs before Gary Busey would be any kind of a scientist.  Speaking of Busey, if you played a drinking game while watching the movie, your BAC still wouldn’t be higher than that of either Busey or Tara Reid.  I still think a movie about a Sharknado is far more factual than the Republican and Democratic National conventions combined.   If this movie has taught us anything though, it’s that Apple needs to come out with a shark emoji instead of that stupid whale emoji we are forced to use if we need it.

SHARKNADO: THE 4TH AWAKENS -- Pictured: (l-r) Masiela Lusha as Gemini, Ian Ziering as Fin Shepard, Imani Hakim as Gabrielle, Cody Linley as Matt Shepard -- (Photo by: Tyler Golden/Syfy)

Finally, the RNC and the DNC were like nothing we have ever seen before.  This is the new reality TV.  It’s polarizing drama that people are tuning in for, just to see what kind of disaster is going to happen next.  At this point though, it would take WWIII or martial law to keep Obama as President.  Maybe WWIII is better than Trump or Hillary?  Every single speaker at the DNC was fantastic.  All I could think about was how all of them would make better Presidents than her.  I’m also amazed at the networks.  CNN used to hide their democratic bias.  Not anymore.  We always knew Fox News wore the Republican tendencies on their sleeve.  However, in this election, watching two networks that are totally polar opposite extremes is way more interesting than watching a balanced perspective.  Still, I don’t need 9 analysts on CNN giving me their opinion.  That’s right folks…NINE! CNN apparently thinks this is NFL Primetime.

Monday Morning Coffee

Kobe Parents

July 25th, 2016

Last week Kobe wrote a letter to his 17 year old self in The Players Tribune.  You would think the letter might reflect back on what he might have done differently in his career, but it was much different than that.  The letter was a sad reminder of just how fractured Kobe’s relationship is with his parents.  Kobe essentially said that if he could do it all over again, he wouldn’t give his family and friends material things, but rather give them opportunity to help them achieve for themselves.  It’s truly a shame that their relationship has fractured to the point of Kobe not feeling like he should take care of people in his life that took care of him at one point.  That’s not to say though that Kobe’s attitude is wrong.  The man has a tireless work ethic in whatever he does, and it’s clear that he is trying to inspire those around him.    Kobe is a complex person, but that definitely played a key role in getting him to where he is in life.  If the rest of us wrote a letter to our 17 year old selves, we’d probably just remind ourselves to wear a condom or find a better fake ID.

USC cornerback Isaiah Langley has been suspended by the Trojans for the season opening game against Alabama.  Langley was arrested on suspicion of three misdemeanor offenses in May, including being intoxicated and trespassing on the UCLA campus after a fraternity party.  Langley was a backup last year, and probably won’t be looked at as a critical missing piece when the Trojans take on Alabama in week 1.  However, most schools, especially those rednecks in the SEC, would probably just hit the kid with a slap on the wrist and have him suit up anyway.  Hopefully this is Clay Helton with an early statement about how he will treat discipline.  I guess we’ll never know though until one of his star players gets in trouble.  Nevertheless, Langley’s arrest after trespassing is a reminder that even USC football players can’t get into the UCLA.

To baseball where the Dodgers are still holding their breath on the health of ace Clayton Kershaw.   Skipper Dave Roberts seemed to have lost command of the English language because everyone suddenly come away with the impression that Kershaw might need season ending surgery.  If that happens they might as well just pack it in and go home, because they couldn’t contend with Kershaw, and they sure as hell won’t contend without him.  Even though LA took two out of three against the Cardinals, they have blown a serious opportunity to gain more ground on the Giants.  San Fran is sinking like the Titanic but the Dodgers are providing them with plenty of life rafts.  Kenley Jansen is still a great closer and all, but he has blown some pretty awful saves this year, and it feels like the Cards still have his number.  He’s also probably exhausted from all that extra work LA gave him in the early going, while they fixed a bullpen that was garbage at the time.  There’s also the teams mind blowing inability to hit with runners in scoring position, which is totally pathological, as is Andrew Friedman’s incompetent devotion to analytics.  At this point the trade market is awful, and I’d be angry if the Dodgers gave up an important prospect for a mediocre player, when they are more than 1 player away from truly contending.  This especially when you consider that they refused to give up prospects when the likes of David Price, Johnny Cueto, Cole Hamels, and Aroldis Chapman were available a year ago.

Then there’s the Angels who got destroyed in Houston over the weekend, getting swept in three games.  Tim Lincecum gave up 8 runs in just over 1 inning of work, including three home runs.  These days that should count as a “quality start” for an Angels pitcher, since he didn’t need his arm surgically replaced when the game was over.  The same can’t be said for Andrew Heaney, Garrett Richards, and most recently Nick Tropeano, who needs Tommy Johns as well.  You can add CJ Cron to that disabled list too.  After a nice little win streak to start the 2nd half, the Angels came crashing back to last place in the West, and reminded us that 2016 is over, and 2017 might as well be too.  They only have three healthy starters under contract next year, making it difficult to trade anybody to improve their horrendous farm system.  In other words, not only do the Angels not have the assets to be buyers at the trade deadline, they probably can’t afford to give up their limited pitching assets to be sellers, especially with horrible options coming up in free agency.

I don’t know if Chris Sales is either a total genius, or if he has the maturity of a 5 year old.  Sales was not happy with the White Sox throwback jersey on Saturday, so he cut it up with scissors.  How could he destroy all that hard work put in by all those Asian children?  The Sox actually have pretty cool throwbacks.  Can you imagine what he would have done if he had to wear the Astros or Padres throwback jerseys or if he had to wear one of those ugly NBA jerseys with sleeves? He would probably take a bazooka or a grenade launcher to them.  Sales probably does have the maturity of a 5 year old, however, he might have done this just so no team would want to trade for him, and bring that immaturity into their locker room.  Then again, maybe the Sox will just decide they need to get him out of their clubhouse ASAP.  I guess we’ll find out shortly.

The IOC decided not to ban the entire Russian Olympic team from next months summer games.  This comes after everyone knows that virtually all their athletes participated in institutionalized doping.  This decision had to have been made out of fear that Vladimir Putin has some major dirt on the IOC.    I’m sure much of this includes bribes accepted for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, among other ridiculous corruption.  How else do you explain the IOC giving the Summer Olympics to Brazil? That country has more problems Johnny Manziel.  I love the Olympic Games and what they are supposed to stand for, but I hate what they are turning into with each passing day.  The IOC is looking more and more like it’s run by a bunch of third world miscreants that could care less about what the Olympics mean, and only want a pay day regardless of the collateral damage.

Tiger Woods announced that he is out for the season.  Why do we care? Because golf just hasn’t been the same without a dominant Tiger.  For years, the PGA has been trying to sell us on Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, and other “young stars”.  Nonsense.  Not a single one of these guys are half as dominant as Tiger Woods was in his prime, and to this day, none of them can hold an audience the way Tiger can.  He’ll never be what he used to be, but I’m still holding out hope that Tiger can give us another exciting couple of major victories.

 

Monday Morning Coffee

D-Lo Summer League

July 18th, 2016

The crowds that have been showing up to Laker summer league games in Vegas have been unreal.  You would think the Beatles are back together and making a comeback.  The fans have good reason to be excited too.  D’Angelo Russell has been putting the work in, and it’s obvious that work is starting to pay off.  Wait until next week when he gets a beat down practicing against all those Team USA Olympians.  That beating will actually go a long way to making him an even better player in the long run.  Brandon Ingram showed some flashes of brilliance too, and suddenly the Lakers have 5 or 6 very promising young players on their team.  Why can’t the front office just embrace this fact that they are rebuilding and go with that?  Laker fans are fairly intelligent and can accept this process, but the front office seems to keep selling the idea of making these big free agency splashes, which we know will never come to fruition.  Jeanie Buss appeared on ESPN last week and claimed she was excited about the young players, but blew some smoke at us by saying this summers free agent signings were exactly what was needed to get back on top.  Just tell us it’s a process Jeannie.  Obviously we’re good with it.  What we aren’t good with is the discord in the front office between you and your brother.  Fix it!

Then there’s the completely laughable Blake Griffin trade rumors to the Boston Celtics.  Who makes up this crap? NBA journalism has resorted to writers coming up with ideal trade suggestions for one team, without actually using their brains to figure out whether or not the trade makes sense for both sides.  The Clippers aren’t trading Blake Griffin for Rudy Gay people, or some deal that gives them a bunch of spare parts.  Doc Rivers is completely delusional and thinks the Clippers are a championship contender.  He’s not breaking up his Blake-CP3-DJ trio until he is forced to.  The signings of Mo Speights and Brandon Bass add some nice depth, but it’s going to be the same storyline for another season with the Clippers, and their inability to make a run in the playoffs.

We’re just over a month away from the start of College Football, and the media has already made their picks.  The Trojans were picked to finish 2nd in the Pac 12 South, mostly due to their brutal schedule.  The real question that needs to be answered is about Max Browne, and whether or not he can be the elite QB he was advertised to be.  Is Browne nothing more than a game manager? Is he better than Code Kessler? I hope so for the sake of Trojans fans because Kessler was hot garbage.  It actually sounds like Sam Darnold has a lot more upside in both throwing and running ability, but I doubt Clay Helton will hand the reigns over to a freshman on such a difficult schedule.  The schedule, the defensive line questions, and Max Browne will have the Trojans lucky to be 2-2 to start the season.  The South will likely come down to the matchup against UCLA at the Rose Bowl though.

Speaking of UCLA, they were picked to win the Pac 12 South by the media, and that has to be attributed to their schedule.  The Bruins avoid Oregon and Washington, and then they’ll host Stanford and SC at the Rose Bowl.  They also have one of the most promising quarterbacks in the country in Josh Rosen.  The question for UCLA will be whether or not they can avoid their typical late season collapse and disappointments they’ve experienced the last few years.  Their talent level is near the top of the conference, and even pretty solid nationally.  They also have13 returning starters, which was even higher last season, but its hard to imagine them suffering nearly as many injuries as they did then.  The Bruins and Trojans will likely battle it out for the South, but the conference is Stanford’s to lose.

The Dodgers started the 2nd half of the season on a horrible note, losing two of three games at Arizona.  LA has been struggling to score runs all season, then Chris Taylor comes up from the minors and explodes for 3 hits and 6 RBI on Friday.  Apparently the front office has never heard of “riding the hot hand”, because they benched Taylor on Saturday, and went back to not being able to score runs for the rest of the weekend.  This is what happens when your front office actually dictates to your manager what moves need to be made in the lineup, and makes those moves based on matchups.  I’m also not sure why the Dodgers haven’t figured out how to manufacture more runs given their issues scoring them.  It doesn’t really take a computer to figure out how important that is.  Then again, the computer is probably telling the front office how great of an on-base percentage the team has, even though they stranded 15 runners in Saturday’s loss.  No matter how talented your team is, everybody knows getting hot in the postseason is about riding the momentum of players that are performing well.  That’s something that will never happen with Andrew Friedman and his band of numbers geeks in charge.

Somebody break up the Halos.  They swept the White Sox at the Big A over the weekend, to kick off the 2nd half of the season.  All of a sudden, Hector Santiago and Matt Shoemaker look like pretty nice trade pieces for a contending team, which could definitely give the Angels a nice return and help rebuild their farm system.  The Boston Red Sox just gave up one of the top 15 prospects in baseball for a career .500 pitcher, who is having a decent year.  I’m sure Billy Eppler’s argument against this is that he’ll need Santiago and Shoemaker in the rotation next season, plus add more since the team will probably be without Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney, while losing Jared Weaver and CJ Wilson in free agency.  However, how competitive is the team going to be next season without their top two pitchers, and no impact players on the free agent market? In other words, the Angels don’t want to give up on 2017 yet, but they’ll probably end up just as bad even if they don’t give up on it now.  Mike Trout is still under contract for four more years, so giving up on 2017 now can only make you competitive in your last several years of his contract.

I’ve never been a big fan of the ESPY’s.  It’s completely manufactured television that ESPN tries to shove down our throats on a night that is typically the most boring night of the year of TV.  Nothing says sports like having the host of the show be a fake wrestling champion.  With that being said however, I like the efforts of the bannanna boat crew (Lebron, CP3, Melo, and Wade) speaking out against police brutality and the recent violent responses.  There is never really a good time to discuss this, but having the conversations and making people more aware is important if we want things to improve.

When the top sports story is Henrik Stenson winning the Open Championship, you know we desperately need football to come back.  Just think, we are only 8 weeks away from the following:

We're only 8 weeks from

Meanwhile, Tom Brady’s phone has been blowing up since he decided to give up on DelfateGate.  Take a look…..

Brady's Phone

Finally, congratulations to Tim Duncan, who quietly retired from the NBA last week.  The Association is definitely losing an entire era of greatness between Kobe, Duncan, and now possibly Kevin Garnett retiring this offseason.  Duncan was the greatest power forward of all-time, and if I made him a center, would even be one of the top 5 centers ever.  However, I’d take Kobe over Duncan on the all-time list.  They are both in the top 10, but Kobe dominated Tim when they met in the playoffs, while Duncan has something that Kobe will never have: a bronze medal.

Monday Morning Coffee

Russell Westbrook image

July 11th, 2016

The Lakers are going to have a decision to make in the next few weeks, and possibly months.  Do they trade for Russell Westbrook or not? Now that Kevin Durant has signed with Golden State, with Westbrook’s free agency looming in 2017, you can be sure the Thunder are going to move him prior to next summer, so they don’t risk losing him for nothing.  The Lakers have five attractive young players the Thunder would be interested in, along with several cap friendly contracts.  They could put together an offer more attractive than most others, but why would they?  For that matter, why would anyone put together a major package without an assurance that Westbrook would stick around beyond 2017?  Even if Westbrook did commit to LA long term, it’s unlikely the Lakers could build a championship team around him during his prime, especially without any cap space and 4 of the top 15 NBA players playing in Golden State.  If Westbrook wants to play for the Lakers, LA’s best bet is to try to win 30-40 games, then convince him to sign with them in the summer.  By the time the young guys develop in 2-3 years, the cyclone in Golden State would have died down, and the Lebron era would have ended.

I was pretty sure Nick Young was an idiot.  However, in case you weren’t sure, we now have video confirmation that he is.  Young nearly blew his hand off while holding a firework on the 4th of July.  I love how Luke Walton rolled his eyes when he had to answer questions last week about Young’s stupidity.  I’d say I want this guy off the team immediately, but since he only has 1 year left on his contract, I’d rather they not pay it over the next couple of seasons.  Here’s your visual confirmation of this stupidity…..

I hate putting a lot of stock in summer league games, but it’s nice to see D’Angelo Russell playing well, and some flashes of excellence from some of the other Laker young players.  Most will probably say the competition isn’t that great, however, the Lakers young players didn’t play well against that competition last year.  It’s nice to see D-LO showing some progress…..

D-Lo played that game like he’s trying desparately not to get traded to OKC.  Maybe next time he should remember that he’s on TV though……..

I have no problem with Kevin Durant joining the Golden State Warriors to try and form a team that can become an NBA dynasty.  There’s definitely a business and marketing piece to this that was important to KD changing teams.  However, that doesn’t mean I can’t be of the opinion that he looks like a total front runner making that move.  Even his ex is ripping on him claiming that he’s “easily influenced by other people”.  Either way, it should be illegal to play with the Warriors in NBA 2K17.  The owners better not bitch when the Collective Bargaining Agreement expires.  Their entire objective back in 2011 was to create a CBA to prevent the Lakers from being good.  I guess they forgot about the whole competitive balance thing.  Even though it’s a two team league, everyone is talking about the NBA, and it’ still good for the game.  Elsewhere around the association, James Harden signed a new contract extension with the Rockets, and makes over $3,000 per day.  So even when not playing defense, he gets paid, making it no different than usual.  Pat Riley is cold, but made the smart business move not re-signing Dwayne Wade.  His 34 year old knees should be a great upgrade over Derek Rose’s 27 year old knees for Chicago.  I’m not sure whether the Bulls or Knicks will be a bigger disaster.  I think Allen Crabbe probably took out a $75 million loan to match the Nets offer sheet, just so he wouldn’t have to go to Brooklyn, and rather stay with Portland on a pro bono contract.

The MLB All-Stars were announced last week, and we’ve finished the first half of the season.  The game might as well be the Cubs vs the Astros.  Doesn’t seem like the NL will be claiming home field advantage in the World Series come Tuesday night, since Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg, Madison Bumgarner, and Noah Syndergaard are all going to be missing the game.  It’s nice to see Corey Seager grab an All-Star spot, and also participate in the home run derby.  If Seager were smart he would bring Joe Blanton to pitch to him, which would assure him of a victory.  I can’t really say that I’m too excited about the field though, especially without Mike Trout.  Giancarlo Stanton is exciting, but Todd Frazier? Adam Duvall? Will Myers? Ugh…….Major League Baseball has never heard of the idea of “marketing your stars”.

As for the Dodgers, they hit the break in firm control of the NL Wild Card race.  However, this team has more question marks than the Riddler, yet Andrew Friedman will find a way to avoid adding the necessary pieces to make this team a World Series contender.  I’m sure by the end of the month you will hear him say that the return of currently injured Andre Ethier, Joc Pederson, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Brandon McCarthy is like a series of major trades the team made.  Even though most Dodger fans can’t see their games, we are smart enough to know that those players made up the team that wasn’t good enough to win a World Series last year.  Even more concerning is the fact that Clayton Kershaw probably won’t be ready to come off the disabled list when he’s eligible on Friday.  You can make an argument that the Dodgers need help virtually everywhere….on the field and off the field.

Meanwhile, the Angels hit the break in last place in the AL West.  There’s really no good options for the Halos.  They would be better off trying to trade Yunel Escobar and Kole Calhoun to help their farm system, however, replacing those two in the offseason would probably be more costly to their payroll, and their would be fewer good options.  Joe Smith, Fernando Salas, and Geovany Soto could be traded, but since they would be half-season rentals, they probably wouldn’t yield much value.  They’ll have an extra $50 million to play with this offseason, but that money won’t do them much good when the free agent class is about as good as Bartolo Colon’s cholesterol.  How long do the Halos continue to remain in denial about the big picture? The longer they do, the more painful it’s going to be when they finally do.

To the ice, where the Ducks acquired former Kings goaltender Jonathan Bernier in a trade with with Maple Leafs.  It’s good to see that the Kings goaltending pipeline is thriving in Southern California.  That pipeline includes current Kings Jonathan Quick and Jeff Zatkoff, Martin Jones in San Jose, as well as Bernier.  Would the Ducks have made that move had Bernier not played for the Kings? I have my doubts.  It’s another weird move in a super weird offseason for Anaheim.

Finally, it would be extremely shortsighted of me to not address the events that took place in Dallas last week.  Several weeks ago, I made it a point to mention the OJ Simpson documentary, and there was a reason for that.  The reason was related to the question I posed, which was whether or not race relations have improved today because OJ Simpson was acquitted of murder in the mid 1990’s.  I think the events of last week are a reminder that the answer is a resounding “no”.  We have a major problem in this country.  Black people who are pulled over by cops should be fearful of their safety and livelihood.  It’s so wrong, but institutionalized violence and police brutality is an issue that we have never completely addressed.  The events that took place in Dallas are horrific and not the answer, but they are also an act of desperation.  So what is the answer?  More conversations about race.  It’s obviously not that simple, but it’s a very important start since most people seem uncomfortable talking about race.  Many of those conversations need to take place between law enforcement and black communities, so they don’t have these fears.  There’s a number of people who aren’t even aware of their own prejudices, law enforcement included, and their behavior that results from them.  Only these conversations can help begin to make people aware of them.   Even if there is only 1% of law enforcement that is dangerous to black people, that is an unjust number that shouldn’t exist.  There also needs to be more accountability for those police officers who do committ these acts of brutality, which is only further straining relationships with the black community for law enforcement.  There are no easy answers, but communication and conversation is a good start.

Monday Morning Coffee

July 4th, 2016

Back in 2010, Blake Griffin “Mozgoved” Timofey Mozgov.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out the video above.  On Thursday Night when free agency opened, it was the Lakers who were “Mozgoved” by Timofey Mozgov.  Mozgov was signed to a 4 year $64 million contract, just 30 minutes after free agency began.  That tells you how bad things are in Lakerland.  The Lakers not only couldn’t get a meeting with Kevin Durant, but they were fearful that they weren’t going to get anybody to come play for them.  They threw a horrible deal at a decent role player.  I hate the money, but I hate the length of contract even more.  The Luol Deng contract was almost as bad.  Both of these guys are already in decline, but the Lakers were desperate to put adults in the locker room, to help their young players mature.  I’d rather have nobody than be saddled with those two contracts.  The Lakers should be committed to rebuilding through the draft, and developing players.  However, just because every team is making bad decisions doesn’t mean the Lakers need to as well, which eliminates their future financial flexibility.  The Lakers are suddenly acting like a small market team.  Thanks to Jim and Jeanie’s bickering, ESPN analysts were literally laughing at the Lakers on Friday.  They are going to regret it even more next summer when thy have no cap space, and Lebron, Curry, Durant, Westbrook, CP3, and Blake Griffin are all going to free agents.  That’s 4 top 5 players, and 6 of the top 10.  Free agency is a lousy way to build when you have Jim Buss, and you don’t think things through.  However, another year of player development and no Jim Buss, which is going to happen now, and it could be a different story.  Here’s to another 25 win season.  I guess Kobe wasn’t the problem.

Meanwhile, the Clippers struck out in their attempt to sign Kevin Durant.  KD informed them he wasn’t coming, despite the fact some Clipper sources claimed he was “blown away” by their presentation.  He was probably blown away when Steve Ballmer started crying when his Windows 10 froze up in the middle of his presentation.  KD had to bail him out after that by pulling out his MacBook Pro.  Doc Rivers then proceeded to do what he does best, which is make bad decisions.  He overpaid his son, Austin, Wesley Johnson, and further overpaid 36 year old Jamal Crawford on a 3 year deal.  All this to keep together his precious squad that has never made it out of the second round of the playoffs, and they still don’t even have a decent small forward.  Doc’s delusions and nepotism know no bounds.

Bernie Sanders is going to have a real problem with all these NBA contracts that are being handed out.  So are all the NFL players, who are wondering why the hell they picked the sport with the worst collective bargaining agreement.  I don’t begrudge NBA players for making this kind of money since they are among the top 1% in the world in their profession.  However, the owners better not complain  about their stupidity the next time they negotiate a collective bargaining agreement.  Mike Conley is the highest paid player in NBA history.  The league has lots its damn mind.  I love how everyone is acting like Al Horford is the second coming of Bill Russell for the Celtics.  The Hawks gave Dwight Howard $70 million for 3 years.  Stabbing yourself in the eye with a fork would have been a better idea.  Al Horford didn’t wan’t to play with Dwight.  Not many do anymore.  Matt Barnes only got $12 million from Sacramento, so he might as well be on welfare.  The Knicks will find a way to be a disaster.  You think the Lakers have trouble signing free agents? The Mavs have wasted the last 5 years of Dirk’s career unsuccessfully chasing free agents.  At least the Lakers signed Jordan Clarkson to a relative bargain at 4 years and $50 million.  Here’s a summary of NBA free agency…..

Joker Money Burning

The Dodgers are fortunate they’ve played a bunch of garbage teams since Clayton Kershaw went down with a back injury.  However, when the Dodgers start to collapse in the standings, maybe Andrew Friedman will realize the problem with prioritizing quantity over quality, and ultimately refusing to pay for high-end talent.  Betting on Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson, and Hyun-Jin Ryu to stay healthy is like betting on the Power Ball.  The lineup is trash too, and the bullpen isn’t nearly as trustworthy as they seem on the stat sheet.  There’s been rumors the Dodgers may try to acquire Jay Bruce at the trade deadline, but why would they give up any of their beloved prospects they’ve protected up until this point? At best, you’ll get more garbage like Bud Norris.  Don’t worry Dodger fans.  Now that Kershaw is hurt, you won’t be able to not watch him pitch on TV.

As for the Angels, I think General Manager Billy Eppler is slowly developing a sense of denial about the Angels team he has inherited.  He says that “it’s not in this team’s DNA to rebuild”.  I guess nobody has told him that Andrew Heaney, his #2 starter, is out for the rest of this season, and probably all of next season.  Garrett Richards is likely to be out for that period as well, despite his efforts to delay the inevitable.  With their top two pitchers futures in doubt, their first baseman aging and killing their payroll, along with major holes in left field and 2nd base, it’s obvious the Angels need to detonate and start over.  Farm systems take years to rebuild, and the Halos have no way of rebuilding that without rebuilding their major league club since they have no money.  Eppler claims that the Halos might have some money this summer for players that might improve the team, but none of those are front line starting pitchers, or big bats that can change the Angels fortunes.  The Angels bet on the wrong guys at the wrong time, and it’s going to cost them dearly for years to come.

Let’s go to the ice, where there’s been a free agent frenzy in the NHL as well.  Unfortunately, the Kings and Ducks haven’t been able to do much about it because they both have salary cap issues.  All things considered, Kings GM Dean Lombardi did pretty well, adding a top 6 forward in Ted Purcell, a backup goalie with Stanley Cup experience in Jeff Zatkoff, and some defensive depth with Tom Gilbert.  Lombardi was giving out more one year deals than 24 Hour Fitness on New Years Day.  As for the Ducks, after trading goaltender Frederik Anderson for draft picks, they’ve continued efforts to try and re-sign some of their own free agents.

I’m thinking the only thing that will make the IOC move the Olympics from Rio at this point would be if a meteor crushes the city prior to August 5th.  It doesn’t matter how much violence occurs, or how much water pollution there is, or how many body parts wash up on the beaches.  The IOC gets paid one way or the other so they don’t give a crap.  Fortunately, I temporarily forgot about my frustration with the IOC while watching the US Olympic Trials over the weekend.  Michael Phelps is simply amazing.  He might not repeat his total dominance in 2008, but I think he’s going to be even better than 2012, which was still amazing.  His 100 m butterfly over the weekend was a thing of beauty.  Missy Franklin was pretty nervous that she was going to miss the Olympics all together with her swimming performance, but pulled through over the weekend in a couple of events.  Then in Track and Field, Allyson Felix, Justin Gatlin, and LaShawn Merritt look poised to take the American Track team back to respectability, after the embarrassment of 2012.

UCLA incoming freshman guard Kobe Parras has withdrawn from the university because he failed to meet certain academic requirements.  Parras was a three star recruit.  I suspect if he were a four or five star recruit they would have let him stay.  Lonzo Ball is more prepared for UCLA’s academics than Parras, who went to Cathedral High? Seems unlikely.

How many legendary figures are we going to lose this year? Now Pat Summitt?  She was the John Wooden of women’s basketball.  She was much more than that though.  She empowered women, advanced women’s athletics, and was an inspiration to many.

Finally, Cowboys Owner, Jerry Jones, claimed that it is “absurd” to think that there is a link between, CTE, brain trauma, and football.  This resulted in former NFL Quarterback, Jake Plummer, ripping Jones for his comments.  Even though Plummer apologized later on, it’s clear that Jones’ has an agenda.  I find it “absurd” not to think there’s a link between CTE, brain trauma, and football.  Jones looks like a man who is protecting the investment of the 31 other NFL owners.  The way things are going, nobody really knows if the NFL is going to be around in 50 years from now.  Players are getting bigger, stronger, and faster, to the point where it might only be a matter of time before someone actually dies from a hit on the football field.  The players may be accepting risk to make their millions, but the owners don’t provide the players with nearly enough health benefits, especially when their careers are over.  The owner have plenty of resources to do this, but all they care about is protecting their investment and their streams of revenue for as long as they can.

 

 

Monday Morning Coffee

Brandon Ingram walking up

June 27th, 2016

The Lakers didn’t screw up the draft.  They didn’t overthink it, and took what the 76ers didn’t take, which was Brandon Ingram.  Ingram is arguably the best player in this years draft, and easily the best fit for the Lakers.  More importantly, the Lake Show is finally developing an identity.  That is defined by uptempo, position-less basketball.  Ingram can play 3 positions.  So can Julius Randle, while Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell can play both guard spots.  If you are ok with building around youth and assuming you’re doing it with the right guys, the Lakers are off to a great start.  As for free agency, I find it strange that the Lakers don’t have a meeting scheduled with Kevin Durant, even if the odds of Blake Lively becoming my girlfriend are greater than him signing in LA.  Maybe Mitch Kupchak is going to try to lock down another veteran or two, and then attempt to secure a meeting with Durant.  Otherwise, there isn’t going to be much to pitch to Durant, other than how nice the beach is in Southern California.  For a team that’s been so superstar hungry the last few years, its hard to believe that Kupchak doesn’t have a plan.  He has one, and regardless of how effective it’s going to be, he knows how to operate with the secrecy of the FBI.

As for D’Angelo Russell, his Foot Locker commercial where he poked fun of his cell phone incident was very well done.  No matter how much you hate Russell for breaking “the man code”, he’s owning up to what he did, and it’s part of the maturation process for a teenager that is new to the NBA.  Then there’s Nick Young, and I don’t think there’s any way that those two can be teammates again, after D-Lo essentially monetized the incident with the commercial.  I don’t think anybody really cares though, because ultimately, Nick Young was the one who cheated on his girlfriend, and nobody wants him on the Lakers anymore.  Actually, the biggest trade of the NBA offseason so far has been Swaggy trading his classic Impala back to Iggy Azalea, in exchange for his engagement ring.  In case you haven’t seen Russell’s Foot Locker commercial, here it is…..

Meanwhile, the Clippers actually had a first round pick this year.  Doc Rivers made a solid, but predictable 1st round draft choice with Brice Johnson.  Johnson might end up being a useful player off the bench, however, Doc Rivers General Manager playbook continues as follows: draft players out of the ACC, and acquire players who played well against you, played for you in Boston, or are related to you.  This type of cookie-cutter operation should keep the Clippers in 2nd round purgatory indefinitely.

On to baseball, where the Dodgers have found a way to fall further and further behind the Giants in the NL West.  I guess Clayton Kershaw must be washed up since he gave up 4 runs last night to the Pirates.  Keep in mind, LA is falling further and further behind after a stretch where prior to their series against Pittsburgh, they played their best baseball of the season, which still hasn’t been good enough.  They are barely hanging on in the wild card race, and some of you seem to think this is ok given the youth on the team.  As far as I’m concerned, this has been unacceptable.  When Andrew Friedman took over the team, the Dodgers had a roster that was a World Series contender.  Now they likely won’t even make the playoffs.  Even if they did, I don’t care what the statistics say, I wouldn’t trust any Dodger starters not named Clayton Kershaw in a playoff game.  Frankly, the Dodgers are a lot closer to being trade deadline sellers than buyers, and watching them continues to be aggravating.

For the Angels, despite yesterday’s win, they have now lost 6 of 7 games, and are quickly sinking to the bottom of the American League standings.  Only the Minnesota Twins have a worse record in the AL, and they aren’t even trying to win games.  The Halos are on pace to lose 95 games, their worst under Mike Scioscia.  The worst part about it is that the injuries that have ravaged the team are probably masking the real issues: the starting pitching isn’t that good, and the lineup is fundamentally flawed.  They are still getting underwhelming production out of left field, the middle of their infield, and there is very little to no help on the way in their farm system.  Even putting aside the disaster that is this season, Billy Eppler is going to have to get really creative to improve this team in the coming seasons.

To the ice, where it’s been an interesting last week of the offseason for the Kings and Ducks.  Of course the year the Kings don’t win the Stanley Cup, their star players finally get recognized for awards.  Drew Doughty won the Norris Trophy last week as the league’s best defenseman, and Anze Kopitar won the Selke Trophy, as the league’s best defensive forward.  It’s nice to finally see the voters have actually subscribed to cable, and stayed up past their bed times to do their jobs and cover the games.  The Kings also made a very smart move in letting scoring left wing Milan Lucic go, while signing Trevor Lewis to a long term deal.  Players like Lewis win championships, while Lucic is simply a luxury for a team in cap hell.  On the other hand, I’m not sure why the Ducks traded goaltender Frederik Anderson so damn soon.  They could have afforded to sign Anderson, then use him as an asset to trade much later.  Their offseason moves have been about as confusing as Hilary Clinton’s sexuality.

That Argentinian beat down of the USMNT in Copa America was a reminder that we still can’t hang when it comes to soccer.  It’s also a reminder that it’s probably time to remove Jurgen Klinsmann from his head coaching duties for someone who will actually trust his younger budding stars.  Klinsmann showed about as much trust in those younger players as Iggy Azalea has for Nick Young.  At least this tournament tells us now that we can’t hang with the best, instead of waiting for another year or two on an even bigger stage to let us know that.

Not only was I super pumped for Game of Thrones last night (more on that in a moment), but also, Shark Week on Discovery.  This year it has come about a month earlier than usual.  I definitely appreciate the focus on more scientific talk about Sharks, rather than scaring me about the next time I’m in the ocean.  That more scientific talk includes a discussion on Shark sex, which doesn’t exactly go down with your typical love making music in the background, and is much more analogous to an even more aggressive form of Fifty Shades of Grey.  Nevertheless, given the amount of sightings off the coast of our Southern California beaches, I have no desire to enter the ocean past my knees at this point.

Since Great Britain voted to leave the EU, we should all celebrate by drinking tea, canceling our next dentist appointment, and watching cricket.  It’s good to see that the financial markets didn’t overreact to the news on Friday or anything.  The US version of the Breexit we can look forward to is the Obama exit coming this fall.

Finally, a huge season finale of Game of Thrones went down on HBO last night.  Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see it, so read no further if that is the case.  There was more that happened in the first thirty minutes of that episode than in the entire season! The Red Wedding was like kindergarden, however, what Cersei did was college, when she took down Kings Landing with wildfire.  I suddenly went from feeling terribly bad for Cersei, to hating her guts once again when she kllled Margaery, one of my favorite characters, but you knew she was going to get her revenge.  For nearly a full season, we forgot just how evil the woman is, and how far she will go to stay in power.  I guess you could say she got her trial by combat when it was all said and done.  Then there’s Tommen, the biggest pansy there ever was for a King.  He really re-defined the phrase “Kings Landing” with his suicide.  He probably decided to jump when he realized that he and his mother were seeing the same barber.  In some ways, Cersei losing her son that way was poetic justice for what she and Jamie did to Bran.  So many people died at once, it was hard to come to grips with it.  The Gily and Sam story wasn’t all that necessary, other than reminding us that Sam actually grew some balls.

Then there’s the Starks, who suddenly had the greatest comeback since the Beatles.  Arya’s revenge against Walder Frey made her “no name” nonsense totally worth the wait.  She’s now the “Frey Slayer”.  Something tells me Jamie Lannister isn’t so sad to see him go.  Funny how Lancel was stabbed once by a child, and couldn’t even move, while Arya was stabbed a bunch of times, yet managed to live and eventually take down her enemy like she was a Ninja Turtle.  If I were on my way home to Winterfell I’d wanna stop for food at McDonalds.  Arya decided to stop to kill somebody on her way home to Winterfell.  Sansa finally grew a brain, and decided not to trust Littlefinger.  After all this time, all she cares about is kicking ass, rather than being in power, which is exactly what she should be doing.  By the way….who knew that Sansa was actually much taller than Jon Snow? Of course we also learned that Jon’s mother is Lyanna Stark, which really makes him Ned Stark’s nephew.  Ned obviously lied because he knew the Lannisters would kill Jon if they knew he was a Targaryen.  It also explains the superpowers than Jon has, similar to Daenerys.  Speaking of Daenerys, she might as well be called the “Breaker of Hearts” instead of the “Mother of Dragons”.  When did Daario become as clingy as Ser Jorah?  Lady Mormont is one hell of a leader, and basically gave the Game of Thrones equivalent of a Ted Talk during that episode.  The only thing that would have made that episode better is if they somehow introduced Lady Stoneheart.  The last two episodes were maybe the two best of the entire series.  However, this is what happens when you realize you have to wait a whole year for the show to come back…..

 

Monday Morning Coffee

Lebron with Trophies June 20th, 2016

I think it’s safe to say Lebron James is still the best player in the world.  He cemented himself as not only the best player in the world, but in term of individual greatness, he’s easily in the top 5 all time.  It was simple, Lebron played out of his mind.  Steph and Klay were underwhelming, while Lebron got just enough support he needed from Kyrie Irving, JR Smith, and some other role players.  The Warriors are still a great team with two of the best shooters ever, but championships are still won for the most part with the same formula: dominant swing man or dominant big man (if you can find them).  None of the Lebron haters can say anything now.  As for the Warriors, they are still going to be contenders for a while, but they’ll need to ask themselves if they want to try some different role players, of it want to gut their depth and sign Kevin Durant.  Steph needed to control his wife Ayesha, and make her stop tweeting about conspiracy theories.  Ayesha probably just had her cooking show canceled because of that.  Nevertheless, the real winners last night were the strippers at the club JR Smith hit after the game.  Wait, since Cleveland actually won a championship, that must mean we all need to find a bomb shelter since the world is about to end.  Lebron’s block on Iggy in the final moments was savage….. Lebron block on Iggy As for the Lakers, the NBA draft is on Thursday, and some things have me very nervous.  Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield claims that he’s “very confident” the Lakers are going to select him with their #2 pick.  If that happens, I’m very confident I’m going to jump off the Santa Monica Pier.  I’m hoping this is nothing more than a smokescreen by Mitch Kupchak, otherwise this would make no sense.  The Lakers need help in the front court, at at the small forward position especially.  More importantly, this is a two man draft: Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram.  After that, there is a major drop off.  The draft will be interesting, but free agency just got a whole lot more interesting after yesterday’s Cavs win.  It may sound weird, but Lebron James has earned the right to go wherever he wants to, and according to ESPN’s Stephen A Smith, he would absolutely consider LA if other max level players.  Golden State is probably a lot more likely to pursue Kevin Durant, and if Durant leaves OKC, Harrison Barnes becomes attainable (and more affordable), and eventually, Russell Westbrook  will be available too.  It’s lining up to be a very interesting summer, and a very expensive one too.

Then there’s the Clippers, who are looking for a new TV deal.  What would Fox Sports do without the Clipps? After the Lakers and Dodgers departed a couple of years ago, everyone thought Fox was screwed.  However, the Clippers came up with a halfway decent product, while the Kings and Ducks were competitive and maintained their loyal viewership.  Now, Steve Ballmer is looking to cash in on the fact that his team is a major piece of broadcasting for Fox Sports, while also incorporating a piece of fancy new broadcasting technology.  Meanwhile, DeAndre Jordan should receive some serious consideration for the US Olympic Team.  The squad is short on players who want to play, and short on big men.  Considering DJ is First Team All NBA (and I use the phrase loosely), he would be a very good fit, assuming he wants to play, and very deserving of a selection.

To baseball, where the Dodgers may have won 3 of 4 from the Brewers, but they’ve already dug themselves too big of a hole to catch the Giants in the NL West.  It’s funny because everyone is talking about how the Dodgers should be trade deadline buyers.  However, the closer we get to the end of July, the Dodgers may really be sellers and more than 10 games out of first place.  Then again, with the stupidity of Andrew Friedman, you would think the Dodgers are “sellers” with every trade they make.  His latest blunder was trading pitcher Zach Lee to Seattle yesterday, for a utility infielder.   That’s right folks, the organizations minor league pitcher of the year last year, was traded for a pile of crap.  I guess Friedman thinks injury plagued guys like Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brandon McCarthy, and Brett Anderson are trustworthy, when in actuality, they won’t be able to stay healthy for 5 more minutes.  Apparently Friedman has never heard the phrase “you can never have enough pitching”.

Speaking of pitching, the Angels got a really nice performance from Tim Lincecum on Saturday, in his return to the big leagues.  Lincecum pitched six strong innings against Oakland, and all of a sudden the Halos are getting some really good pitching from their starters.  The only problem is it’s probably too little too late, given that they are already 13.5 games out of 1st place in the AL West.  Will Albert Pujols every hit over .250 again?  It would be nice if he could since he’s making $25 million per year.  The only entertainment the Halos will be able to provide this summer is Mike Trout.

What a weird coaching hire by the Anaheim Ducks.  They re-hired Randy Carlyle, who coached the Ducks prior to Bruce Boudreau, from 2005-2011.  He had the benefit of having a loaded team in 2007, when the Ducks won the Stanley Cup, but afterward his best players quite on him.  Those best players at the time, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, are still on the team.  His style is more of an outdated, rugged, “dump and chase”, and even in Toronto, his players quit on him as well.  The Ducks weren’t satisfied winning the division every year, and then getting bounced in the playoffs.  Carlyle is such a poor fit, now I’m wondering how they’ll feel missing the playoffs next year.

This Copa America thing is a very confusing to me.  I really need my soccer in World Cup form, every four years.  However, the US is giving us something to cheer about.  The problem with US Soccer is that any success they achieve, doesn’t seem to be sustainable.  Maybe by beating Argentina tomorrow, they can finally show us something sustainable.  The casual soccer fan can also start to figure out what all these other soccer tournaments are when they aren’t the World Cup. Congrats to Dustin Johnson for winning the US Open.  However, let’s be honest, we we’re all just stoked that we got to see Paulina Gretzky at the end of the tournament……. The OJ Simpson ESPN 30 for 30 was fantastic.  It was long but very fascinating, especially with the look at all the significant events between the black community and the LAPD prior to the trial.  I also love how former ESPN personality Roy Firestone was destroyed on Twitter earlier in the week for a chummy interview he had with Simpson in the early 90’s, after he had beaten up Nicole.  It’s really not fair to Firestone to criticize him with the benefit of hindsight.  You should be even more critical of Hertz and NBC, who completely ignored all the allegations of domestic abuse against Simpson.  Today, that would never fly.  Firestone owned up to it anyway, admitting he was way too chummy.  After watching the 30 for 30, my question for Johnny Cochran and all the black jurors who acquitted OJ to send a message about getting justice for black people: was it worth it? Is the relationship between black people and law enforcement that much better today because OJ was acquitted.  I don’t think so.  In fact, the potential nomination of Donald Trump for President tells me we might actually be going backwards when it comes to civil rights.

Finally, what a great episode of Game of Thrones last night on HBO! Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see it, so read no further if that is the case.  Finally, a win for the good guys! Jon Snow and his undermanned army defeated Ramsay Bolton.  Was I the only one who was yelling in excitement when Snow was beating the hell out of Bolton? I had a feeling Sansa had something up her sleeve, and it was getting more men (who were supplied by Littlefinger).  There’s also more evidence supporting my theory that Sansa is pregnant, when Ramsay suggested she couldn’t kill him because he is part of her.  The episode was totally about girl power though, with Daenery’s destroying the Masters with her dragons.  There was also her suggestion that she and Yara would be better off running Westeros with the two of them in charge.  The fighting scenes were epic.  Unfortunately we had to lose Rickon Stark, but Sansa told us that was going to happen anyway.  Ramsay’s death was poetic justice, and one of the few times in this show where the underhanded evil tactics of the bad guys didn’t work.  Looking forward to the season finale but unfortunately, I wouldn’t expect the feel good episodes for the good guys to continue. Battle of the Bastards