Monday Morning Coffee

January 16th, 2017

Sometimes business and money outweigh everything else.  Just ask Donald Sterling.  Now you can ask Dean Spanos, who ripped the Chargers from San Diego last week, and moved them to Los Angeles.  Congratulations Dean, you are now the most irrelevant team in the Los Angeles sports landscape.  You are the unwanted house guest that is crashing on the couch, drinking the hosts beer, and slamming food in the fridge that isn’t yours.  Then there’s the disaster that was the team logo.  In a matter of hours, the Bolts had a new logo, that looked like it cost about 50 cents to make.  It looked like the Dodgers logo had sex with an electrical cord.  Then, just a few hours later after being destroyed on social media for the logo, Dean Spanos did damage control on local radio stations by saying this was just a temporary logo for marketing purposes.  Good one Dean.  The logo itself alienated the remaining San Diego fans, and was simultaneously rejected by LA fans.  If you think the logo is bad, wait until you see how bad the team is on the field.  The Chargers added insult to their own injury by hiring a running back coach in Anthony Lynn, just a few hours later.  LA barely has interest in supporting one lousy NFL team.  We definitely don’t need two.  This was a poor desperation move by the Spanos family, who could have easily spent money on a stadium in San Diego instead of a relocation fee, while combining that with the NFL’s contribution.  The irony of it all is that the most popular team in Los Angeles is the Raiders, and we all know they are headed to Vegas.

Speaking of coaching, the Rams have named Sean McVay their new head coach.  McVay is the youngest head coach in the NFL history at 30 years old.  This guy is so young to be a head coach, nobody is actually sure if he’s going to need a permission slip from his mother to go on road trips.  In all seriousness though, its a bold and out-of-the-box hire that is worth a try.  McVay did wonders developing Kirk Cousins the last few years as an offensive coordinator with the Redskins.  At 30 years old, he can probably do a much better job relating to guys like Jared Goff and Todd Gurley, than a guy in his 40’s or 50’s can.  Despite all the big names you heard, we knew the Rams weren’t going to get one.  However, this was a good alternative plan that could payoff in the long run.  I’m still surprised though that nobody wanted to wait for Kyle Shanahan, who has done a great job as Atlanta’s offensive coordinator this year.

I think it’s safe to say The Legion of Boom was blown up the the Falcons over the weekend.  Devonta Freeman was breaking ankles and Matt Ryan was racking up some big numbers.  The Falcons defense doesn’t look that good, but it hasn’t mattered yet, and might not next week either.  The Seahawks just aren’t the same without Marshawn Lynch.  Thomas Rawls clearly did not eat his Skittles the way Lynch did, and his performance has suffered.  Russell Wilson also suffered on Saturday.  If I didn’t know better, I would say it was Grayson Allen who was playing offensive line for the Seahawks, who ended up tripping him…..

In New England, Brock Osweiler was in a very giving mood, throwing three interceptions, as the Patriots routed the Texans.   Osweiler has become the greatest $72 million thief in history.  The Pats didn’t play that well, but handled the Texans easily.  They didn’t even need deflated footballs to take care of business either.

Then there were the good games.  Aaron Rogers proved he’s definitely the best quarterback in football after he single handedly led the Packers past the Cowboys in Dallas.  It feels like if I gave Rogers a couple of homeless wide receivers off the street to play on his team, he’d still be able to throw for 300 yards.  Now that Hillary Clinton and the Cowboys both lost their big games this year while being the favorite, blue must be the official color of choking.  The Cowboys have a very good young team, but their defense has more holes than a Packers cheese hat.  The over/under on the Packers-Falcons NFC title game must be 1,000 points.

The Steelers got by the Chiefs 18-6.  It got even worse for Chiefs Coach Andy Reid after the game, when he found out all the local BBQ joints in K.C. were closed.  Steelers Running Back Le’Veon Bell ran wild again, and is living proof that smoking weed makes you a more patient runner.  Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce just didn’t have it yesterday against the Steelers D.  I fee like Kelce is trying to be Rob Gronkowski the same way that Bon Jovi is trying to be Bruce Springsteen.  Kelce was very displeased with the officiating as well.  Sorry Travis, but you probably could overcome the officiating if you didn’t have a critical drop and a penalty in that game.  Somebody get that man a tissue.

Looking back at the National Championship Game from last week, that was a great finish to the college football season with Clemson getting by Alabama in the final seconds.  That game was very boring early on, and lasted longer than a Kim Kardashian marriage.  However, the Tigers were simply the beneficiary of getting the last opportunity to score, and they took advantage of it.  They also benefitted from Alabama Running Back Bo Scarborough breaking his leg.  It was great for college football that Clemson knocked off the team that was viewed as a dynasty in Alabama.  Knowing Lane Kiffin though, he probably was happy as hell his former employer lost, since Sark replaced him as offensive coordinator for that game.  Sark called a pretty good game, however, the Crimson Tide defense couldn’t keep the ball long enough to keep their defense off the field and rested.  I’m sure Sark also filled the Gatorade bottles with some vodka to take the edge off.  The loss wasn’t a big deal for him since he planned on getting drunk anyway when it was over.

To the NBA, where the Lakers fell to the Pistons last night at Staples, but the more intriguing stories are off the court as we’ve reached the halfway point of the season.  The Lake Show were reportedly interested in acquiring Atlanta Hawks Power Forward Paul Milsap or the 76ers Center Nerlens Noel. Milsap is an all-star player, but acquiring him makes little sense for a team as far away from contending for a title as the Lakers.  He’s off the trade block for now, but hopefully the Lakers don’t pull the trigger on that trade.  As good as Milsap is, he’s really an elite complimentary player on a team.  He’s a B+ player that doesn’t get this team to the playoffs, he’d cost at least a couple of the teams best young players in a trade, and he’s going to be due for a very expensive $140 million contract extension when the season ends.  As for Noel, his shot blocking ability would be a great fit in the front court for this young Laker team.  If the Lakers could find a way to make that trade without trading Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, or Jordan Clarkson, they should do it.  Perhaps a Lou Williams for Nerlens Noel trade might make sense considering the 76ers need backcourt help.  Forget the playoff pipe dream that most of you had early on in the season.  The Lakers are on pace to win almost 30 games, and before the season started, most of us thought that would be major progress.

As for the Clippers, they’ve won six straight and stabilized things after going through a rough stretch.  Blake Griffin is also due back soon, and they’ll need him to see where they stack up.  Beginning at the end of this month, they’ll face the Warriors three times, the Spurs, Raptors, and Celtics, in a four week stretch.  Keep in mind, Blake Griffin needs to play well for his own free agency.  Under the new NBA CBA, if Blake gets first, second, or third team All-NBA, he is eligible for a 5 year contract for over $200 million this summer.  The next closest another team could offer is 4 years and $124 million.  However, if Blake doesn’t get All-NBA honors, the Clippers could only offer 5 years and about $150 million, which would make it slightly easier to leave LA if he desired.  The other situation to keep an eye on is the rocky relationship between Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony in New York.  If Melo does become willing to waive his no-trade clause, the Clippers and Cavs are the only teams he would be willing to go to.  However, would the Clippers really make that trade if the Knicks asked for Blake Griffin? I have my doubts, even if Chris Paul is buddies with ‘Melo.

That was a great win by the UCLA basketball team on Saturday at Utah.  The Bruins rallied from a nine-point deficit in the second half despite their defense looking as soft as rigatoni.  The Bruins were out rebounded and allowed the Utes to shoot 54% from the field, but they made big shots down the stretch.  Coach Steve Alford actually did something right other than style his hair nicely during this game.  He even sat out his son Bryce on some key defensive possessions late in the game, allowing the Bruins to matchup better in certain situations.  The win was definitely character building for a team that hasn’t had many tests thus far this year.  They’ll get tested next week though as they take on Arizona and Arizona State.

As for the Trojans, they aren’t nearly as good as you thought a few weeks ago.  USC will probably fall out of the Top 25 after losing to Utah.  They also barely got by Colorado.  The Trojans are a combined 2-6 in higher elevation trips to Utah and Colorado since those teams joined the Pac 12 in 2011-2012.  At least they are enjoying the legalization of marijuana on these trips since they can’t seem to beat those schools, which they should.

Finally, we’re just beyond the halfway point of the NHL season, and I think it’s safe to say we can draw some conclusions about the Kings and Ducks.  The Kings score less than Steve Urkel did on Family Matters, and need some major help.  The good news for LA is that despite their scoring woes and the loss of starting goalie Jonathan Quick, they are currently hanging onto the last playoff spot in the West.  With the emergence of young defenseman like Derek Forbort and Kevin Gravel, the Kings can afford to trade a quality defenseman like Jake Muzzin for some offensive help by the trade deadline.  Then there’s the Ducks, who have grinded their way into 1st place in the Pacific Division at this point.  Anaheim has also done it with defense, despite not having veteran goal scorers pull their own weight offensively.  Unless Anaheim can find a taker for Ryan Getzlaf or Corey Perry, I doubt we’ll see much movement from them at the deadline.  The real question though is if these guys can actually do something in the playoffs, which remains to be seen.

Monday Morning Coffee

January 9th, 2017

Perhaps it wasn’t such a great idea for the Giants’ receivers to go on that boating trip to Miami.  Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepherd looked like they forgot to bring their hands back from the trip, as the Packers blew out the G-Men yesterday on Wild Card Weekend.  Odell’s hands were obviously still greasy from rubbing down all those men in Miami with sunscreen, as he dropped two touchdown passes while Aaron Rodgers was connecting on another Hail Mary touchdown pass.  The Packers are are on fire, and headed for an epic showdown with the Cowboys.  It was so cold in Green Bay yesterday that Eli Manning’s mom packed an extra thermos of hot chocolate for the quarterback.  Here’s Rodgers huge Hail Mary…..

Meanwhile in Pittsburgh, the Steelers dismantled the Dolphins.  That game was a bigger mismatch than Big Ben locked in a room full of sorority girls.  Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Browh put up monster numbers and looked like they were playing Tecmo Bowl.  Bell is the worst thing to happen to the “anti-drug” campaign.  That team looks so good at times, but so inconsistent at others.  Still, Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin is much more than just the “cheerleader” that Terry Bradshaw suggested he is.  In the last 10 years, this “cheerleader” has won 64% of his games, with 5 division titles, 2 Super Bowl appearances, and one of only 6 active head coaches that have won a Super Bowl.  Nice try Terry Bradshaw.  Congratulations to  Matt More, who made history yesterday.   Moore is the first quarterback to die, yet continue an NFL game……..

In Seattle, the Seahawks took care of the Lions.  This is definitely the worst thing to happen to Lions fans since they found out they actually live in Detroit.  Cheer up though guys, you can still buy pieces of property out there for about $10, so it’s not so bad.  Seattle was never going to lose that game playing at home, especially while Matt Stafford had a bad hand.  I think The Lions may be the only franchise to give up a one handed TD while getting face masked and a butt catch in the same game.

Then there’s the tragedy that was the Raiders, getting blown out by the Texans.  I was waiting for a Brock Osweiler implosion here, but it was the Raiders’ Connor Cook who was the disaster.  I had a better quarterback rating than Connor Cook on Saturday, and I haven’t played tackle football in 15 years.  It was so bad that the Raiders would have been better off playing Derek Carr with a broken leg than putting Cook out there.  That’s about as good as it’s going to get this year for the Texans, who should be demolished next weekend in New England.  The Patriots thought they get one bye week during this years playoffs, but it turns out it was really two.

To the NBA, where the Lakers are still searching for some consistency.  That’s typical of a young team, however, there’s some trade opportunities out there for the team to consider.  Specifically, Chicago Bulls all-star swingman, Jimmy Butler.  According to Ric Bucher, the Bulls are shopping Butler.  Considering the new CBA is going to keep most all-star players with their current teams, when a player like Butler becomes available, it’s worth considering whether or not you should deal for him.  You can be sure a conversation with the Bulls will actually take place, but Chicago would likely ask for two players among, Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, and Julius Randle, with one of the two being Russell or Randle.  Butler is a very good player with a team friendly contract, and I had to ask myself this question a few times before deciding that the Lakers should keep the kids and not make a trade like that.  I’ve seen what a team looks like with Jimmy Butler as its best player, and it’s not only not a championship team, it might not even be a playoff team.  However, we don’t know what this Laker team is going to look like in the next 2-3 years, but it should at least be a playoff team with the development we’ve seen thus far.  You just have to have patience, which nobody seems to have.

As for the Clippers, they have turned things around winning four straight.  Chris Paul made an emphatic return with on Friday night with an efficient game, and then followed it up with an 18 assist game yesterday.  The bigger issue though is that the Clipps whine more than a room full of pre-schoolers.  They’ve been charged with 34 technical fouls this season, 3rd most in the league.  At this point, even Doc Rivers knows his team is a bunch of cry babies, and has told them to pipe down because the officials are targeting them.  More than anything though, this type of complaining is so symbolic of the Clippers lack of discipline in the last five years in big games, and a big reason why they will come up short again in the playoffs.

Russell Westbrook amazes me.  The man is averaging a triple double, which nobody in the NBA has done in the last 55 years, yet he’s getting criticized for his selfishness.  Ironically, Westbrook is one of the few elite players who decided to stay with his current team by signing an extension, which he should be lauded for.  Instead, after Westbrook and the Thunder lost to James Harden and the Rockets earlier in the week, the media was suggesting that Harden was more unselfish than Westbrook.  Harden is definitely having an MVP caliber season, but people who cover the NBA have very short memories.  Harden is the same guy who quit on his teammates last season.  Westbrook is still a better defender, and more explosive than Harden  Nobody that averages a triple double is selfish.  Just because you don’t like the way Westbrook executes at the end of games doesn’t mean he can’t change that.  The same way Harden became a better teammate this season.  If Westbrook averages a triple double for the year, he should definitely be the MVP.  Knowing the media though, they’ll probably give it to Harden.

To college hoops, where the Bruins picked up a couple of wins against Cal and Stanford the last few days.  UCLA will likely move up a spot in the AP poll, probably #3, after #1 Villanova lost earlier in the week.  Lonzo Ball is doing it all, and he might not even be the best Ball brother that’s going to be playing at UCLA in the next four years.  Apparently, their father has had them working on all kinds of crazy things in practice over the years, including regularly shooting half-court shots.  That probably explains why you see this from him all the time…..

Then there’s USC, who’s starting to look like the mid-major I thought they might be about a week ago.  The Trojans lost a close one at home to Cal last night, which is already their second loss in Pac 12 Play.  That game between the Bears and Trojans may have been exciting last night, but USC looks like nothing more than a middle of the road Pac 12 team, and nothing like the team we saw last year.

The Rams coaching search is still in full effect.  Last week’s interviews were headlined by Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels, Bills Interim Coach Anthony Lynn, and Jacksonville Interim Coach Doug Marrone. Falcons Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan will likely be this week.  The “hot candidate” seems to be Shanahan.  However, I don’t ever recall “the hot candidate” ever being all that great in recent memory.  Mike McCoy was “the hot candidate” a couple of years ago with the Chargers and now he’s out.  Josh McDaniels was “the hot candidate” a few years earlier with the Broncos, then ran Jay Cutler out of town, and then was run out of town after that.  All the big names we heard a few weeks ago like Jim Harbaugh and Jon Gruden won’t even interview, so I fully expect to be underwhelmed when a new coach is announced.

Is Lane Kiffin one of the most disliked people on the planet? He must be.  A pretty good sign that people don’t like you is when you are asked not to call plays in the National Championship game when you’ve been doing it all year long, and then your replacement is a recovering alcoholic.  My favorite part of this was when Kiffin thought we were all dumb enough to believe that this was a mutual agreement between him and Nick Saban.  Saban just wants him gone after he accepted a job with Florida Atlantic.  I’m taking Alabama tonight over Clemson in the National Championship game.  Nobody can stop the Crimson Tide and all the money they are paying their players.

 

Monday Morning Coffee

January 2nd, 2017

Happy New Year everybody! Let’s kick off the first edition of MMC in 2017 with some Laker talk, and more specifically, what the breakup of Jeanie Buss and Phil Jackson means.  First and foremost, it means that most guys have been feverishly checking Match.Com, Bumble, E-Harmony, and Tinder to see if Jeanie has posted a new profile since she’s single now.  I think it’s safe to say she likes older men, so if you are in your 70’s, you’ve got a good shot, which is bad news for many of us who thought we had a shot.  Knowing Phil, their breakup was probably caused by the fact that Jeanie didn’t want to run the triangle offense at dinner time.  I don’t think Phil ever really wanted to get married, because who takes a job they don’t need on the other side of the country when they are engaged?  More than anything though, the breakup should put an end to the rumors that Jeanie is going to bring Phil back at the end of the season to replace her brother, Jim, in the front office.  That should give Laker fans some peace of mind on the direction of the franchise, because bringing Phil back was a horrible idea.  It may not save Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak though.  Their fate will be decided at season’s end.  If the Lakers were to replace either one of them, I’m sure there would be a number of great executives lining up for the role, who are more qualified than both Phil and Jim Buss.  As for the team, their record is much closer to being the worst team in the league, than to a playoff spot.  With a top 3 protected pick, it’s probably time to start cheering for some more losses so the team can hang on to that pick and collect another valuable asset.

As for the Clippers, it was just a couple of weeks ago that everyone was raving about how much depth the team had, and how they were championship contenders that might be able to knock off the Warriors in the playoffs.  That so-called “depth” has come up short  of late, as the Clipps have lost six straight, and fallen all the way to seventh in the Western Conference.  Aside from the fact that Blake Griffin and Chris Paul are becoming more and more fragile as they age, the Clippers defense has been non-existent over the last few weeks.  I’m not foolish enough to believe the Clipp Show is going to miss the playoffs, but a slide down to even fourth in the West would likely lead to a second round matchup with Golden State, or even settling for the 6th seed would probably result in a matchup with the upstart Houston Rockets.  That means all those celebrity bandwagon Clipper fans will be searching for the receipts on their Blake Griffin jerseys and returning them back to the Team LA store.

Are you ready for the Rose Bowl? That’s right folks, we might actually get a good football game this afternoon, instead of that watered down, glorified, consolation game crap we’ve been witnessing for the last two weeks, as well as the boring semifinal playoff games.  Neither USC nor Penn State is going to be able to run the ball against each other, so I expect Trace McSorely and Sam Darnold to be chucking the ball around like they are playing in the backyard.  However, the Trojans have the better quarterback, and Darnold’s mobility should be able to neutralize Penn State’s solid pass rush.  I think USC pulls away late and wins by two touchdowns.  The irony of all this is that the Trojans beat Colorado and Washington, and it seems like the punishment  for those two teams was getting embarrassed by much better opponents in their respective bowl games.  The Trojans on the other hand get a nice matchup with Penn State in the Rose Bowl, which all of their fans and players would be thrilled to play in and win.  If you’re going to the game, hopefully you left yesterday, because it’s the Rose Bowl, which means it will take a Christopher Columbus like journey to get there and get in your seats by game time.

Let’s go the NFL, where mercifully, the Rams season has come to an end.  It concluded yesterday with a 44-6 beating they took from Arizona.  How did this team start 3-1? The offense was scoring less than Steve Urkel on New Years Eve.  Jared Goff took so many hits that Chris Brown is interested in dating him.  The honeymoon is over and the team needs to fix things quickly, or else they will lose buzz even before heading into their expensive new stadium in 2019.  The first order of business is hiring a coach with a good offensive mind, and drafting some solid offensive lineman.  Only then will we know whether Todd Gurley and Jared Goff are decent NFL players are not.  It doesn’t take very long to turn things around in the NFL, unless you are the Cleveland Browns.  The right coach and the right draft picks go a very long way to your success.  I guess the Rams haven’t figured this out though because they’ve had 13 consecutive seasons at .500 or worse.

Elsewhere around week 17 of the NFL, the Chargers gave their remaining San Diego fans something memorable by losing to the Chiefs, then immediately firing Coach Mike McCoy afterward.  In a few weeks from now, they will have fired the city of San Diego too.  You think things looked bad for the Raiders last week? They are down to their 3rd string quarterback heading into the playoffs after losing to the Broncos.  The Redskins had a chance to clinch a playoff spot, and instead they clinched a comfortable spot on their couch next week for Wild Card Weekend, after losing to the Giants.  The Browns lost to the Steelers, securing the #1 overall draft pick.  In related news that is likely to follow in the coming days, every draft eligible player is planning on returning to school.  Mark Sanchez showed he still has it yesterday, throwing a couple of interceptions in the Cowboys loss to Philly.  The Patriots should crush everyone in the AFC like a grape.  The Cowboys have been great, but the Seahawks, Falcons, and Giants are all capable of knocking them off on the road.  The Bills were in a very giving mood yesterday, allowing the Jets to score on a free touchdown on a kickoff in their loss to New York.

That was funny.  However, not nearly as shocking as seeing Clemson lineman Christian Wilkins grab Ohio State running back Curtis Samuel somewhere he’s not exactly supposed to after this play ended……

On to College Basketball, and UCLA hoops.  Did you know that in 1994-95, the Bruins went undefeated in non-conference play, lost their conference opening game at Oregon, then went on to win the national championship.  Sure enough, this is the first time they went undefeated in non-conference play since then, and on Wednesday, they lost a heart breaker to Oregon in the final seconds.  I’m not saying history repeats itself here, but it was good for the Bruins to lose a game to see how they would respond, and they responded well by beating Oregon State on Friday.  I would have loved nothing more than to see a final shot by the Bruins beat the buzzer after those idiot Oregon fans ran onto the court prematurely.  Nevertheless, UCLA will get its chance to beat Oregon again, and their first loss of the season does nothing more than help them build character and guts. Who would have thought I could be so positive about the Bruins after where they were a year ago?

Then there’s the Trojan basketball team, that came crashing back to earth on Friday.  USC suffered its first loss of the season against Oregon, who blew them off the floor by a score of 84-61.  As nice of a season as USC has had, the way they lost can’t sit well with them because it was the first ranked team they have played.  It definitely makes you wonder if they’ve been fooling us all along with their powder puff non-conference schedule.  A longer and more athletic team like Oregon gave them problems.  If that’s the case, with so many quality ranked opponents in the Pac 12, the Trojans are going down faster than a Bill Cosby victim.

Are the Dodgers ever going to make a deal with the Twins for Brian Dozier?  It feels like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump could agree on what to order for lunch before these two teams could make a deal.  The fact that the Dodgers haven’t signed Chase Utley, or some other cheap alternative at second base, tells me that they still think they have a chance to acquire the Twins power hitting second baseman.  I know LA is holding out hope that they can make the deal by only including pitching prospect Jose DeLeon, but these types of deals for stud players with team friendly contracts usually require 2-3 prospects.  As long as it doesn’t require a player better than DeLeon (Julio Urias, Cody Bellinger, etc), the Dodgers should make the trade.

It’s a good thing the LA Kings beat the Sharks on Saturday to get back in the win column.  It has felt like the Sharks have owned the Kings for the last year or so.  Those two teams have always played close games for the last 5 seasons, but up until last year, LA had a huge mental edge.  After all those years of Shark jokes the hockey gods are striking back with a vengeance, and now San Jose has that edge.  Of greater concern is the fact that Anze Kopitar might never score again, given that he has just three goals on the entire season, and the same goes for his aging teammate, Marian Gaborik.  The Kings are going to be in a battle just to make the playoffs with the way Edmonton and Calgary are playing.  As for the Ducks, they have their own expensive players not scoring goals like Ryan Getzlaf, but they are still winning games and staying in the playoff race.  They have talent, but watching them feels like you’re looking at that girl who was really hot in high school for the first couple of years, but by your senior year, her stock isn’t quite as high as it once was because new hotter girls (in this case Edmonton and San Jose), have transferred in and garnered more attention.

Well 2016 is in the books, but frankly, the year was just a jerk.  On the LA sports front, we said goodbye to legends like Vin Scully, and Kobe Bryant, even though the Mamba gave us a nice memory with his 60 point finale.  The Rams were garbage, the Lakers are struggling, the Clippers are still the Clippers, the Dodgers still can’t win in October, and the Angels stink.  At least UCLA basketball gave us a small taste of what it could be in 2017, as did USC football.  Here’s to hoping 2017 will be better for our SoCal sports team.  Let’s hope we don’t lose as many celebrities either.  To lose Prince, Mohamed Ali, Alan Thicke, Carrie Fisher, George Michael, and others, really hurt for those of us who identified with these celebrities as we grew up.  They were a part of my childhood.  I guess 2016 also couldn’t end without killing the career of Ronda Rousey as well.  She went Hollywood, and then had too much time away from the octagon.  Time to walk away.

Monday Morning Coffee

December 26th, 2016

Yesterday was a Christmas miracle! The Lakers got back in the win column on Christmas day after losing 11 of their last 12 games.  Yes it took injuries to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin for this to happen, but let’s not be picky Laker fans.  You’ll take wins any way they come right now.  The last two weeks have definitely wrecked the Lake Show’s playoff hopes, however, things aren’t as bad as they seem. Many of the troubles the team has had in recent weeks can be attributed to injuries to very important players.  When a young team like this has those types of key pieces in and out of the lineup, consistency is going to be an issue.  On top of that, everyone forgot that the core of this team is still in their early 20’s, learning to play defense and share the ball consistently.  They aren’t quite as good as you thought in the early going, but they still aren’t nearly as bad as you think they are right now.  Even Jim Buss is encouraged, because he’s now publicly saying that if the team shows progress, here won’t be stepping aside like he promised he would.  I’m not so sure that Jeanie Buss will feel the same way come this summer, but it would be a big mistake if she let Phil Jackson back in the fold just to tie her personal and professional life together.   I wonder if D’Angelo Russell got this phone case in his stocking……

As for the Clippers, the injuries are beginning to pile up.  First Blake Griffin goes down for a few weeks, then Chris Paul and J.J. Redick get injured too.  The Clipps are a distant third in the league to the Cavs and Warriors, and maybe an even further distant fourth to San Antonio if they are injured.  It’s a talented bunch, but one that has come together at the wrong time.  Even when Doc Rivers continues to keep Blake, CP3, and the rest of the core together, they will simply continue to age and further minimize their chances of winning.  Then again, Doc Rivers probably doesn’t care because he wouldn’t want to coach the team if they had to rebuild.  Looking back at their game from against the Spurs a few days ago, the Clippers should be eliminated from the playoffs just for this ridiculous sequence……

Elsewhere around the Association on Christmas Day, great game between the Warriors and Cavs.  Kevin Durant is probably going to demand a trade to Cleveland after his Warriors lost.  Kyrie Irving is clutch, and it’s starting to feel like he has Steph Curry’s number.  Did you know that Richard Jefferson is the first Civil War Veteran in NBA history to dunk twice in the same game? Lebron totally got away with hanging on the rim for about 90 seconds after his monster dunk late in the game.  Meanwhile in New York, Carmelo Anthony’s teammates one wish for Christmas was that he would waive his no-trade clause and leave the Knicks.  New York got beat by Boston.  Then there’s Russell Westbrook who’s Thunder beat the T-Wolves, but the real story was Westbrook denying that he was yelling out of excitement when Kyrie hit that last second shot to beat Durant and the Warriors.  Too bad we have visual and audio evidence of his excitement.  The guy clearly is still bitter about Durant leaving the Thunder.  Check it the evidence right here…..

Has anybody checked out the new NBA CBA? You can be almost assured that no elite players are going to be leaving their current teams when they reach free agency.  The new labor agreement has included a rule where any player who earns MVP, All-NBA, or Defensive Player of the Year honors is eligible to make $76 million more by staying with their teams.  That means Karl Anthony Towns and Anthony Davis better get comfortable, because they will be spending their entire careers in Minnesota and New Orleans, respectively.  It also means teams like the Knicks and Heat are screwed because they were counting on free agency to reload their teams, and instead they will be forced to build through the draft from here on out.  The Lakers may not have gotten any big time free agents of late, but at least they were fortunate enough to have drafted five high potential players in the last three years.

What a pathetic show put on by the Rams on Christmas Eve.  LA just gave the 49ers their only two wins of the season.  Somehow, Jared Goff is finding a way to get worse with every week that goes by.  Whatever new coach comes in is going to have to alter his throwing mechanics completely because he missed a lot of open throws.  Tavon Austin should look like Tyreek Hill of Kansas City.  Instead, he’s $44 million more expensive, and not nearly as consistent.  Tickets were going for $30 at the Coliseum on Saturday.  That sounds a lot like football in LA right before the Rams left for St. Louis.  As for the Jon Gruden rumors, I don’t understand how people think he’s a real candidate for the Rams head coaching job.  Gruden is the Jeff Van Gundy of the NFL.  He hasn’t even coached in the last 8 years, and would be a huge risk with this group of players.  Does anybody even know if he can still do it? I sure don’t.

Elsewhere around Week 16 of the NFL, I guess Jesus doesn’t love Philip Rivers that much, because the Chargers lost to the lowly Browns.  Amazing that Cleveland won, and they didn’t even need an Xbox to do so.  I think I even heard Browns fans chanting ‘We Want ‘Bama” when it was over.  Horrible news about Derek Carr breaking his leg for the Raiders.  I was secretly hoping for a Cowboys-Raiders “return to glory” Super Bowl, but it will probably be New England-Seattle now.  Speaking of the Patriots, they dismantled the Jets.  The Texans clinched the AFC South for the fourth time in six years.  Seeing them get eliminated in the 1st round of the playoffs is an NFL tradition unlike any other.  The Chiefs look damn good after beating up on the Broncos.  Andy Reid hasn’t been this happy since he first discovered BBQ’d ribs.  John Elway is about to call Tim Tebow.  Eli Manning was about as accurate as Helen Keller from the free throw line in the Giants loss to the Eagles.

It’s bowl time in College Football, but did you even notice?  I don’t blame players like Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette for sitting out these meaningless games.  Other than the top 4 playoff teams, all the other bowl games are just glorified consolation games.  Why should these players risk injury when millions of dollars are on the line at the next level? I’m sure their teammates would agree with their decision to sit out as well.  However, I do think that this is a great opportunity to increase the number of teams in the playoffs.  If these players had even a small chance of making it to the National Championship game, they would play in these postseason games.

Has anybody seen the Michael Floyd video of him getting arrested for a DUI? I’m sure Notre Dame officials are cringing at the fact he’s sporting an Irish beanie while being arrested.  I’m shocked the Patriots actually signed him after the Cardinals released him.  Apparently Floyd’s BAC was .217 when he was arrested.  This makes sense because he’s played the last 16 weeks like he’s been drunk on the football field.

UCLA men’s basketball just finished non-conference play with a blowout win over Western Michigan. That is the first time in over two decades that the team has been undefeated in non-conference play. There’s definitely going to be some tough teams in Pac 12 play, but it’s going to be much needed for the Bruins RPI, which isn’t as they would like at #24.  I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how they handle matchups against Oregon, Arizona, and USC.

I usually find it difficult to hate any kid playing college sports, but Duke’s Grayson Allen is a total punk.  I’m not sure why the guy finds it necessary to trip his opponents, let alone from super small schools like Elon.  Allen is basically the high school villain in every 1980’s movie.  I can’t imagine that Coach K would be willing to put up with this any longer.  This is basically how you act when your dad doesn’t get you a Mercedes for Christmas…..

I still think Christmas is the best holiday.  Yes, it’s usually a lot more expensive than Thanksgiving due to the gift giving.  However, it’s a season, it’s not just a day, and you can’t beat the feelings leading up to the day.  Hope you all enjoyed it.

Monday Morning Coffee

goff-taken-downDecember 19, 2016

The Rams looked just as bad after Jeff Fisher got fired, as they did before he got fired.  It was only a matter of time before their luck against Seattle ran out, and that’s exactly what happened in that ugly loss on Thursday Night Football.  It was so bad, the FBI is planning on using the game tape as a new torture method when interrogating terrorists.  There were actually a few moments though where Todd Gurley made me remember that he was a decent running back, who was just running behind a horrible offensive line all season.  However, it looked about as bad as you would think for a team that has no coach, and only four days to come up with a game plan.  Expect much of the same in the last two games, which will be an even more pointless exercise after Jared Goff got blown up by Richard Sherman.  Goff apparently doesn’t know which direction the sun rises, nor how to not take punishment while running with the football.  Dude clearly has a lot to learn after this shot…..

As for the coaching search, this is looking more and more like an offensive coordinator’s first job, as opposed to a big name.  That’s definitely not what Rams fans want to here, nor Stan Kroenke, but that’s the cold hard truth.  Jon Gruden will never leave the broadcasting booth.  Jim Harbaugh isn’t ready to leave Michigan yet and would probably want the Bears job if he did.  Also, the idea that Pete Carroll is going to leave Seattle for the Rams job is laughable.  One guy that could be attainable is the Saints Sean Payton, who New Orleans looks ready to part with.  Goff isn’t exactly Drew Brees, but Payton is a better offensive mind than the Rams have had in years.

Elsewhere around week 15, that definitely looked much more like a Raider home game in San Diego yesterday, as Oakland beat the Bolts.  Raiders are in the playoffs for the first time in 14 years.  The Bills beat the Browns, moving Cleveland closer to fulfilling my dream for them to go 0-16.  Aaron Rogers should change his last name to “Hail Mary” after coming up with a clutch long pass late when the Packers beat the Bears.  The Chiefs couldn’t close the door on the Titans, who rallied to beat K.C. with a late field goal.  The Texans got by the Jags, but they now realize that throwing $72 million in the sewer would be better than giving it to Brock Osweiler.  The Ravens edged the Eagles and can still win the division.  The Steelers will probably have something to say about that after they beat the Bengals.  The Lions got shutdown by the Giants.  Adrian Peterson came back just in time to see the Vikings eliminated from the playoffs, as Minnesota got slammed by the Colts.  Drew Brees remembered how to play, and the Saints outlasted the Cardinals.  Falcons destroyed the 49ers, Patriots kept cruising along by beating the Broncos, and  Dak Prescott shutdown the Tony Romo supporters as the Cowboys beat the Bucs.  I loved Zeke Elliot’s TD celebration by jumping in the Salvation Army donation bucket, but of course the NFL didn’t because they are a bunch of hypocrites.  The Dolphins also crushed the Jets on Saturday Night Football, in a game the NFL didn’t want you to know actually happened.  This was actually ruled a catch?
odell-no-catch
The Lakers are in the midst of a brutal 7 game road trip.  They finally got back in the win column on Friday, but their season has been torpedoed over the last two weeks.  They got everyone healthy again, but the damage has been done.  I do find it very convenient though that everyone is playing “revisionist history” and criticizing the Lakers for not taking Kristaps Porzingas in the 2015 draft.  At the time, nobody in their right mind would have drafted Porzingas in the top 3 picks, including all 30 NBA General Managers.  The Knicks didn’t even want him, and tried to trade out of that slot, but we’re stuck with him.  The Lakers still got a pretty good player in D’Angelo Russell, so you definitely can’t say they made the wrong selection.

Then there’s the Clippers, who got some bad news after their four game road trip.  Blake Griffin is going to need a minor knee surgery, and will be out until the middle of January.  This feels strangely similar to last year, and the year before that, and the year before that.  Maybe now we’ll see DeAndre Jordan go into beast mode getting some 20 point and 20 rebound games with Blake sidelined, since he won’t be occupying as much space in the paint.  DJ is a very good modern day center, but Hassan Whiteside doesn’t think so.   He says DJ just “catches lobs”.  Whiteside does have the more consistent offensive game,  but DJ isn’t the head case Whiteside is.  Most people around the NBA would probably agree with that.  Besides, that’s probably something Whiteside should have only said to his boys and not in the media, especially when your team is a pile of lottery garbage.

Very sad news to hear about the passing of TNT reporter, Craig Sager.   Sager lost a battle with cancer, but fought very hard for the last year, and even continued to work while getting treatment.  He was very well liked by everyone, and I will always remember his great sideline interviews with coaches and players, especially when they would give him a hard time.  Sager was always such a good sport about it, and just shrugged it off, and that’s what allowed him to command respect from everyone.  RIP Craig Sager.

UCLA Bruin Basketball is so good, I don’t even know what to say about them anymore.  They didn’t even play that well on Saturday, yet improved to 12-0 after beating Ohio State by double digits.  I’m almost thinking they should probably lose a game or two before March.  As long as they win the conference and get a #1 seed, there would actually be less pressure on a group that wasn’t undefeated heading into the tournament.   As the legend of Lonzo Ball grows, I suddenly mind Steve Alford a lot less.  Whether Alford becomes a hindrance com tournament time though remains to be seen.

Do USC fans actually know they have a basketball team? Better yet, do they realize that their basketball team is 10-0 and ranked #24 in the nation? The Trojans are by no means a college basketball powerhouse, or a team that can win the national championship, but they are extremely underrated.  Andy Enfield is finally recruiting the kids he needs to implement his uptempo style in a successful manner. Their most impressive win was probably against Texas A&M, and they should be able to contend in the Pac 12, as well as make some noise come tournament time.

How lucky are the Dodgers?  Kenley Jansen was offered more money by both Washington and Florida, yet he instructed his agent to get a deal done with LA.  Justin Turner wanted to stay in LA, and the market for his services didn’t work out too well.  Thus, they both were willing to take less money than they were worth on the open market, in order to stay with the Dodgers.  In addition to the market, baseball’s new luxury tax penalties will be gradually phased into the game over the next couple of seasons.  In other words, Andrew Friedman got the perfect storm, enabling him to re-sign two key members of the Dodgers.  Now if he can somehow trade for Brian Dozier, i’ll be impressed.

Monday Morning Coffee

fisher-and-goff

December 12th, 2016

I’ve gotta hand it to the Rams.  They know they stink on the field, but they are finding a way to keep us amused with all their drama off the field.  Nobody should be surprised they got destroyed by the Falcons yesterday.  Atlanta scored more touchdowns in LA than the Rams have all season.  Jeff Fisher was probably trying to figure out how to stop Andre Rison and Jamal Anderson all week.  Remember when the Rams had one of the toughest defenses in the league? That defense is about as soft as Charmin toilet paper now after getting run over by the Atlanta offense.  Jared Goff hasn’t exactly looked all that promising since his first start, and when I watch the offense, I get about as bored as Michael Vick would be at a PETA meeting.  Off the field, there’s the rumored dysfunction between Fisher and GM Les Snead.  Both deny that there is a rift between the two of them, but given how long it took to actually get Goff on the field, as well as the fact that several sources have reported on this rumored front office tension, there must be some element of truth to it.  Even though both guys were given contract extensions, if LA is an embarrassment  over the last three games, like they were yesterday, either one or both could still be fired.  Stan Kroenke isn’t going to run out of money anytime soon, and will do what he needs to do.  Now there’s rumblings that Jim Harbaugh could leave Michigan for the Rams.  For the love of god, make this happen Stan! I don’t care if Harbaugh is a jerk.  He’s been successful everywhere he’s gone.  That shouldn’t be any different here.

Elsewhere around Week 14, the Chargers got blown out by the Panthers, and all their fans want for Christmas is to actually beat the Browns.  The Titans got by the Broncos.  Le’veon Bell and the Steelers dismantled the Bills.  Buffalo’s field looked like Johnny Manziel’s hotel room after Saturday night’s Heisman Trophy ceremony.  Carson Palmer ruined the lives of his Cardinal teammates and fantasy football owners, as Arizona got beat by Miami.  Remember when everyone thought RGIII was better than Kirk Cousins? That’s laughable now.  Cousins has been dominating and the Redskins topped the Eagles.   Every time I see the Colts and Texans play, I can’t help but think how far those teams have fallen.  Houston outlasted Indy.  The Vikings gave themselves hope they’ll get Adrian Peterson back this season by beating the Jaguars.  Only the Lions would nearly let Matt Barkley beat them, but they just got by an undermanned Chicago team.  Russell Wilson threw as many interceptions yesterday as he did all season, as the Packers throttled the Seahawks.  The Saints can suddenly play defense, but they also forgot how to score, and they lost a tight one to Tampa.  The Jets beat the 49ers in OT, in a game that should be been moved to PBS at 3 am.  The Raiders had a costly loss to the Chiefs on Thursday  Night Football.  Andy Reid has so much fat on his body, there’s no way that guy ever gets cold during those KC winters.  Tony Romo can’t be blamed for last night’s Cowboys loss.  Here come 12 weeks of good jokes about the ‘Boys.  The Bengals took down the Browns.  Here is a recap of Browns football this season……

A few weeks ago I said if the Lakers can get to mid December around .500, and manage the injury bug, they would have a real shot at the playoffs.  Well so much for that.  The Lakers have lost six straight, and they’ve lost contact with the top eight playoff teams in the West, now trailing the Blazers by a couple of games for the 8th spot.  D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young were back from injury, but Russell sure looked rusty.  A couple of games behind Portland might not sound like a lot, however, when healthy the Lakers are about a .500 team, and they’d need to be slightly better than that to make the playoffs.  Just to get back to .500, they will need to reel off six or seven wins in a row, or a streak like 10 out of 12.  Even though this team is improving, they aren’t that good yet.  More than anything though, the Lakers still haven’t figured out how to play consistent defense.  They compete hard on most nights, but they just need to play smarter.  Given how far Luke Walton has taken these guys to this point, I suspect that will come eventually.

As for the Clippers, you didn’t actually get fooled into thinking they were championship contenders did you?  The Clipps got dismantled by the Warriors last week, and like the late Dennis Green would say, “they are who we thought they were”.  The Warriors didn’t even play that well, yet they showed why they are so much better.  As good as CP3 and Blake Griffin are, Golden State is better at a number of positions.  In fact, they are better individually and collectively in the backcourt, infinitely better at small forward, and maybe even better at power forward.  It doesn’t matter if DeAndre Jordan is better than the Warriors starting center, because Jordan isn’t skilled enough offensively to exploit today’s small ball.  Neither is any center in today’s game for that matter.  All the Clippers can hope for is that Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and Klay Thompson slip on banana peels and get injured, and even then I’m still not sure they would find a way to get it done.  That’s because they are the Clippers.

Russell Westbrook is averaging a triple double.  I repeat, AVERAGING A TRIPLE DOUBLE.  The only player to ever do that was Oscar Robertson, during the 1961-1962 season.  Despite that, Mark Cuban claims that Westbrook is not a superstar.  By Cuban’s definition, a superstar leads his team to 50 wins and to the playoffs.  That is by far the dumbest thing said by one of the smartest people of all time.  Besides, how would Mark Cuban know what a superstar is anyway? He hasn’t been able to sign one in the last 5 years of free agency.  Then there’s Phil Jackson, who still thinks it’s 1998.  After pissing off Lebron James with his careless comments, Jackson is now taking shots at his superstar, Carmelo Anthony, claiming that he hangs on to the ball too long at times.  Usually there is a method to Phil’s madness, and a reason why he says what he does.  However, he’s failed to realize that the game is totally different as an executive than as a coach.  He’s alienated his superstar, he’s alienating other superstars around the league who will probably never consider his team in free agency, and he’s forcing an antiquated offensive system on his players.  When you are winning, you can get away with this.  Phil isn’t winning as an executive, so it doesn’t fly.  Apparently nobody has told him that.

It’s only a matter of time before the inevitable happens: the Dodgers losing Kenley Jansen in free agency to Florida or Washington.  That may even happen with Justin Turner as well, and it would serve Andrew Friedman and his 30 general managers right for screwing around with them.  Friedman is no genius at all, and every time I hear somebody say that he is, I want to slam my head into a wall.  The Dodgers stellar farm system is not the product of his work, but rather the product of Ned Colleti’s.  The team has had no greater success under him than under Colletti.  In fact, now that the Dodgers actually have to cut payroll, they can’t re-sign two of their most critical players because of the horrible contracts Friedman’s front office gave to Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy.  Sooner or later, the Dodgers are going to fall back to being a mediocre team under Friedman, as he continues to strip the roster of talent.  You can also be sure that he’s not going to pay big money for Clayton Kershaw when he opts out in 2018.

A for the Angels, I really like the trade for Danny Espinosa from the Nationals.  There’s not many 2nd baseman in baseball who can give you 20 home run power, and play decent defensively, which the Halos just got.  The Angels also didn’t give up anything of real value from their farm system either, which speaks to the resourcefulness of the trade.  You can be sure that they’ll be very strong up the middle defensively, it’s just a matter of whether their pitching can rebound and stay healthy compared to the disaster that was last season.

To the college hoops where the Bruins continue to roll.  UCLA took down Michigan on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion to improve to 10-0.  That was the Bruins first sellout at home in four years! That tells you how long its been since UCLA put an exciting product on the floor.  This team is looking like the college version of the Golden State Warriors, showing the ability to blow games open with their outside shooting, while playing an exciting uptempo style.  They even find a way to sprinkle in some defense when they want to, an unusual occurrence for a Steve Alford team.  UCLA would have moved up to #1 in the nation, but Villanova rallied to beat Notre Dame and remain undefeated.  It hasn’t felt this cool to be a part of UCLA basketball since the mid 1990’s.  Hopefully they can keep it going heading into Pac 12 play.

Congratulations to Lamar Jackson on winning the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night.  Jackson was easily the most explosive and exciting player in college football this season.  Since Papa John loves Louisville football so much, you can be sure Jackson is going to get a huge endorsement deal from him when he turns pro.  That is if Papa John isn’t already paying him a salary.  Too bad OJ Simpson didn’t Skype in from prison with thoughts on the ceremony, since all the former Heisman winners were in attendance.  Johnny Manziel probably sold his Heisman Trophy for an eight ball of cocaine.  Watching these two polar opposite guys stand next to each is pretty funny…..

manziel-and-tebow

Do the LA Kings ever play anymore? They’ve played four less games than Calgary and one game less than Edmonton.  I still can’t understand why Darryl Sutter refuses to play goalie Jeff Zatkoff.  Peter Budaj is 34 years old, and is going to wear out from all the hockey he is playing.  Zatkoff was brought in to provide some support if Jonathan Quick got hurt, and that’s exactly what happened.  The Kings have some other issues though, like their top guys Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik not providing much offense.  They’ll have to rectify that as they head out on a nine game road trip.  As for the Ducks, they’ve won 3 straight after beating up on the Senators.  Anaheim is playing faster and better slowly but surely.  They are now in 1st place in the Pacific as they head out on a six game road trip.

Finally, the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead went down on AMC last night.  Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see it, so read no further if you plan on watching it later.  This episode had me losing my mind again because you knew people were going to die, and sure enough that’s what happened.  Amazingly enough, when it was over, it turned out to be a feel good moment for everybody.  Rick was like the dad who comes home from a long trip to find out that his kids just burned down the house.  I’m not sure whether Rick should be more angry at his his kid, who really caused all this, or Negan.  I’m sure most of us were celebrating the fact that Spencer was killed by Negan.  It turns out that Spencer hated Rick so much that it actually got him killed.  No guts, no glory, and Spencer clearly had neither when it was over.  You know Rick is about to go crazy and start fighting back again because his beard is growing.  I’m sure many of us were shocked and felt it was unnecessary for Darryl to kill fat Joey during his escape.  Think of it this way though: Had Darryl not killed him, a heart attack would have.  Eight episodes and Carol and Morgan still don’t know about Glenn and Abraham.  If they did, I’m sure they would go straight to war, let alone knowing that Darryl was captured by Negan.  Am I the only one that found it absolutely hilarious that Negan left a seat at the dinner table for Lucille?  That’s what makes him an amazing bad guy.  I also love when Enid asked Maggie if she wanted a plate for her apple pie, and she said no and just shoved it in her mouth.  Don’t we all have a friend like that? (Whether or not they are pregnant).  Any guess who that mysterious figure was, whose boots we saw after Rick and Aaron loaded the truck, and at the very end of the episode? My guess is it’s the shows next villain, the leader of the Whisperers.  Don’t act like you didn’t cry during that Rick and Darryl hug.  That was a great episode, and a good ending to a somewhat slow season.  I’m really bummed we have to wait two months, but the show figures to have a promising 2017.  Best bro hug ever.

twd-bro-hug

Monday Morning Coffee

goff-struggles

December 5th, 2016

Let’s start with the comedy show that is the Rams.  After getting blown out in New England yesterday, the Rams are an ugly 4-8, and dealing with some obnoxious off the field issues at the same time.  Jared Goff and Todd Gurley were pretty pathetic, as was the entire defense as the Pats dismantled LA.  This outcome was fairly predictable though, as Jeff Fisher was probably watching game tape on Drew Bledsoe in preparation for this matchup.  Fisher couldn’t even identify who the Patriots running backs were heading into the game, so how could he stand any chance against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady? If that’s not bad enough, we found out yesterday that Jeff Fisher and General Manager, Les Snead, were given contract extensions.  That’s like rewarding your child with a new car for getting C’s in school.  Fisher also got caught lying to the media earlier this week during the Eric Dickerson drama as well, in which he claimed he was welcome around the team, while he really told the Rams legendary running back he didn’t really want him around the team.  The Rams have no idea what being in the LA market means both on and off the field, and they are learning about it the hard way.  Looks like we’re going to see some mediocre NFL football in LA for a while.  Jeff Fisher can’t even find his challenge flag……

Elsewhere around the NFL, the Chargers lost another close game after leading in the 4th, and their fans are probably numb to it by now.  Pretty soon LA is going to have two mediocre football teams.  The Seahawks had a good laugh on Sunday Night Football against the Panthers, until Earl Thomas broke his leg and is now considering retirement.  Eric Berry looked like Deion Sanders, and the Chiefs got by the Falcons.  The Lions beat the Saints, then trolled all the ESPN analysts on Twitter for picking against them.  Blake Bortles isn’t very good at football, and the Jaguars got handled by the Broncos.  The Packers aren’t dead just yet after beating the Texans.  The Eagles are getting Philly fans ready for a long 76ers season by losing their third straight to the Bengals.  Those are the Miami Dolphins I know! They got pounded by the Ravens.  Is Chip Kelly ready to go back to college football yet? His 49ers got blasted by the Bears.  The Raiders came back from the dead and beat the  Bills.  The Steelers remembered how to play football again and beat the Giants.  The Redskins played more like the foreskins, as they got beat by the Cardinals.  The Cowboys beat the Vikings on Thursday Night Football, and the Chargers will move to LA by the time the Vikings offense ever scores another touchdown.

On to the college ranks, where after all the drama, the Trojans are going to the Rose Bowl.  In just a matter of two months, USC went from having a dumpster fire of a football program that wanted its coach ejected from the universe, to having one of the elite programs in the country.  The Trojans are playing as well as almost any of the playoff teams, and you could still make a case for them to be in the playoff with 3 losses.  However,  It’s almost better that USC is going to the Rose Bowl instead of the playoff, so they don’t get their brains beat in by Alabama, as Washington will on New Years eve.  With huge victories against Washington, Colorado, as well as against rivals UCLA and Notre Dame, USC should feel like they have rightfully earned their place in the Rose Bowl.  They’ve also brought the program back to where USC football probably should be.

As for the rest of the college football playoff, Alabama clinched a spot in the playoff after beating Florida 54-16, and Nick Saban probably chewed out his kids for giving up 16 points.  They might as as well request a promotion to the NFC South so they can actually have a challenge in the playoffs.  Ohio State and Clemson deserve to be in there, but I was hoping to see some new teams.  Washington is sure to get embarrassed by Alabama, which is basically a punishment for winning the Pac 12.  I think it’s safe to say that Penn State just got “Sanduskied” by the playoff committee.  Urban Meyer once said if you win your conference you shouldn’t play for a National Championship.  I’m still not sure how Ohio State is in under that logic, and why Michigan even got consideration.

Let’s talk college hoops, where UCLA basketball is back! The Bruins just had their biggest road win in about a decade, as they upset #1 Kentucky on Saturday.  John Calipari is outraged because he isn’t paying his kids millions of dollars to lose games like this in December.  As punishment, he’s going to take away all of the cell phones and cars he gifted his players.  In all seriousness though, Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf are playing so well,  their talent has actually allowed many other Bruins to  settle into more effective roles on the team.  Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton are perfect examples of this.  More than anything though, the Bruin defense is beyond impressive.  Never did I think a Steve Alford coached team could challenge so many shots at that end of the floor.  There’s still a long way to go, and Pac 12 play won’t be easy, but UCLA has a shot to be the #1 seed out West, and has the talent win a National Championship.

To the NBA, where the Laker injuries are starting to catch up with them.  The Lake Show got crushed in Toronto, and lost a very disappointing game to Memphis on Saturday.  This is an absolutely brutal stretch, where its starting to feel like that playoff seeding is starting to slip away.  There’s not too many teams that can win when losing their starting backcourt, and the Lakers have done pretty well just to get this far.  It doesn’t help though that LA is letting guys like Troy Daniels (yea I’ve never heard of him either) drop 31 points on him.  We’re starting to see more instances of lackluster defense, more isolation basketball, and silly turnovers, which is very characteristic of a young team.  Hopefully the Lakers can correct that to stay in the race.

As for the Clippers, I’m still not buying what they are selling.  Yes, they went on the road and beat up Cleveland.  However, Lebron looked about as relaxed as he does when he goes Banana boating with Chris Paul in the summer, and the Cavs didn’t seem to care.  The Clipps have lost four of their last six games including last night’s loss to Indiana, and they still look a lot more like the team we’ve seen the last 5 years.  They’ve also slipped to third in the West, and here come the mighty Warriors to Staples Center on Wednesday.  This is one showdown I can’t wait to see, but fully expect Golden State to handle business.

I completely forgot about Tiger Woods, and he’s back.  Although he finished 15th out of 17 at the Hero World Challenge.  As sad as it is to say, that’s a major accomplishment for him these days.  I’m not sure how that gets him to move up 248 spots in the world rankings, but apparently it’s likely to happen.  We are far from the days of Tiger’s dominance, however, hopefully he can win a major this year and has a tournament or two win in him.  That would definitely bring some excitement back to the PGA, because the current names just don’t bring it.

Finally, a creepy episode of The Walking Dead went down last night on AMC.  Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see it, so read no further if you plan on watching it later.  This episode was 90 minutes of Negan toying with Carl.  If Carl was supposedly on this suicide mission to kill Negan, then why didn’t he just pull the trigger and shoot him and everybody else when he had the chance?  He has a lot of guts, but also has a lot of stupidity.  So does Michonne, who suddenly thinks she can take out Negan by herself.  Who does she think Negan is, the Governor? He makes the Governor look like Mr Rogers.   I think Negan spent more quality time with Judith in that episode than Rick has over the course of the entire series.  I love that slap Olivia gave Negan, but there’s gotta be a small part of her that would think about sleeping with him like he offered.  I mean, she probably doesn’t get laid much in the real world, let alone with the apocalyptic world.  Negan is clearly Hugh Heffner in the apocalyptic world.  This was definitely not the episode to be ironing your laundry while watching.  If Negan was really intent on punishing Carl, he would have given him a haircut.  This was definitely an “eye-opening” episode.  I can’t believe we’re already at the mid-season finale next week!  For once, I don’t think we’re going to get an all out war between Rick’s group and the opposition during the mid-season finale.  When did Gabriel become so damn likable on this show?  That war feels like several episodes away.  If there’s one character that I would bet wouldn’t make it to through the next episode, it’s Spencer.  Looking forward to seeing how it all goes down next week!

carl-and-negan

 

Monday Morning Coffee

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November 28th, 2016

The Rams took a beating from the Saints yesterday in New Orleans, and coach Jeff Fisher was right.  He’s not going 7-9, or 8-8, or 9-7, or 10-6 for that matter.  He’s going to go 5-11.  The Rams defense that’s been so good all year long was nowhere to be found.  The Saints don’t exactly have the 1985 Chicago Bears defense, but Jared Goff helped the Rams offense put up more points than the Rams have scored in a month.  The Goff situation is making Fisher look really bad.  Everyone is wondering why he was sitting on the bench for the first 10 weeks of the season.  Had Goff been terrible, everyone would want to burn Fisher and Les Snead at the stake for trading so much for an inept quarterback.  At least it appears the Rams have a QB they can build around, but if we’ve learned anything from the Dallas Cowboys, it’s that elite NFL teams are built with great offensive lines as their foundation.  The Rams don’t have anything close to that, which makes both Goff and Todd Gurley look like scrubs at at times.  This is just how I remember the NFL in LA when I was a kid.

Elsewhere around week 12 in the NFL, you thought for a second the Chargers were going to find a way to blow another 4th quarter lead, but then you realized they were playing against the $72 million bust Brock Osweiler, so they hung on to beat the Texans.  Only the Cleveland Browns could throw a pick six to a guy with only 8 fingers.  Giants took down the Browns and sent them closer to 0-16.  The Ravens topped the Bengals.  Justin Tucker is like Steph Curry from three, while Mike Nugent is like DeAndre Jordan from the free throw line.  The Falcons beat the Cardinals, got a big performance from Taylor Gabriel, and then trolled the Browns on Twitter by thanking them for releasing him earlier in the season.  The Bills beat the Jaguars, who just aren’t very good at football.  Where did the Dolphins come from? They are now 7-4 after beating the 49ers.  I guess the better question is where Jay Ajayi came from.  Matt Barkley threw his first three career touchdown passes in the Bears loss to the Titans.  He’s been in the league since 2013!  The Raiders got by the Panthers for their 9th win of the season, which is funny because Derek Carr probably has only nine fingers left.  Tom Brady got his 200th win as the Pats edged the Jets.  It would take the Browns 200 years to get that many wins.  Russell Wilson didn’t bring his bag of magic tricks this time, and the Bucs handled the Seahawks.      That was one wild Sunday night game, as the Chiefs rallied to beat the Broncos in OT.  I guess the Broncos can shutdown Tom Brady and Aaron Rogers, but can’t find a way to contain Alex Smith.  As for the Thanksgiving day games, Sam Bradford should have been forced to eat Spam for Thanksgiving after the Vikings lost to the Lions.  Thanksgiving just didn’t feel the same without Tony Romo turnovers, but seeing Josh Norman and Dez Bryant talk trash in the Cowboys win over the Redskins made up for it.  There was also Antonio Brown breaking defenders ankles in the Steelers win over the Colts….

To College Football where the Trojans kept rolling on Saturday, this time beating Notre Dame 45-27.  Before I get to the disaster that was my alma matter, let’s talk about USC.  The Trojans just looked like the team that was oozing with talent, and poured it on with some huge plays from Adoree Jackson and Ronald Jones, to go along with another solid performance from Sam Darnold.  Unfortunately for the Trojans, they won’t win the Pac 12 because Colorado defeated Utah, so they won’t even get to play in the Pac 12 Championship game.  That leads to some major “what if” questions we often ask ourselves when talking about College Football.  There’s still a chance USC could play in the Rose Bowl if Washington goes to the College Football Playoff.  Most will say that loss to Utah is what really hurt but even if the Trojans won that game, who is to say they don’t end up having a let down in another conference game?  Ultimately though, USC is arguably playing like the 2nd best team in the country to Alabama (who would still crush them again), but they could certainly beat any of the other College Football Playoff teams.  Frankly, since the committee takes into account injuries to certain teams in their rankings, you could make the argument that they should be in the playoff because they would provide the most competitive games now that they have Sam Darnold under center.  These never ending arguments will only come to an end when they do the right thing and expand the playoff to more than four teams.  I do expect that USC will be playing in one of the six major New Year bowl games though.

As for my Irish, their lackluster performance against USC was predictable, and just the final blow to a a horrendous season on Brian Kelly’s watch.  The Irish have talent on both sides of the ball, but their defensive fundamentals and discipline were absolutely atrocious all season long, which has to fall at the feet of the coaching staff.   Notre Dame defensive tackle  Jerry Tillery made a completely classless move as well, kicking Cedric Ware in the helmet, and then stomping on Zach Banner’s foot.  I was happy to see Kelly chewing him out for that.  While I’m totally disappointed with Kelly’s football product this year, I am still not a believer that he should be fired.  There’s simply nobody out there who can presently be an upgrade over him.  In one year from now, if the Irish struggle, that may not be the case.  Notice that I haven’t even mentioned any of the stupid NCAA rulings that were made earlier in the week, in which the Irish had been asked to vacate their wins from the 2012 and 2013 season.  Ok no problem NCAA.  We’ll just pretend like that embarrassment against Alabama in the championship game from that season never actually happened.  For the most part, Notre Dame hands down way more discipline for its players stupidity than all the other Universities in those football loving, red neck filled towns.  Here’s Kelly chewing out Tillery…..

Some of you may have forgotten that UCLA was still playing football over the weekend as well.  Then again, after seeing that game against Cal, it made me realize that they stopped playing football weeks ago.  Mike Fafaul definitely looked like a walk-on quarterback in this game, and looked more and more like that since his decent first couple of starts.  For years we’ve heard that UCLA has all this talent, and we’ve just heard excuse after excuse during that time.  The Bruins have already said goodbye to their offensive coordinator, Kennedy Polamalu.  Now for the next six months, Jim Mora will consider whether or not he wants to stick with a pro style offense, which usually takes a year before it looks the way you want it, or go another route.  Since Josh Rosen got hurt running that offense with little protection, it makes you wonder what the right decision is.  Either way, Rosen will be on to his third offensive coordinator in three years, which can’t be easy to build consistency with.

That Michigan-Ohio State game was a great finish, but now the playoff polls are really screwed up.  The two best teams in the Big 10 are not only not going to win the Big 10, but not even play for the Big 10 Championship.  A Michigan vs USC Cotton Bowl would be a pretty intriguing matchup.  Alabama is still Alabama.  Clemson looks good, but is likely to get bounced again in the semi-finals.  Very tough loss for Nebraska against Iowa.  To be fair though, nobody that lives in Nebraska or Iowa is a winner.  This guy really wanted to spend some quality time with Miss Arizona…..

Thank god the Lakers got some relief in their schedule yesterday, by playing the Atlanta Hawks, a team without a real franchise player.  The schedule has been unbelievably brutal of late, and the injuries have been piling up at the worst time.  However, somehow LA is still sporting a .500 record.  That’s a tribute to Luke Walton and all the minutes he’s been handing out throughout the roster.  There’s a reason why Thomas Robinson and Jose Calderon can step into the starting lineup in the absence of Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell.  It’s because Luke Walton has given them enough playing time to make sure they are ready.  If the Lakers can get through this horrible part of their schedule by mid-December at around .500, then the playoffs are a realistic goal.  However, Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell need to come back soon, or else those playoff chances will evaporate quickly.  I’m also getting annoyed hearing the ridiculous Phil Jackson rumors again, and about him potentially joining the Laker front office at the end of the season.  The Lakers are finally beginning to turn it around because they have let go of their past, and now they want to cling to it again? Given how out of touch PJ is with modern day basketball since he became an executive, this story needs to die immediately.

Then there’s the Clippers, who have suddenly dropped two straight.  The Clipps have become that guy who tells you every year that he’s going to show up to your party, yet when that party comes he never shows.  This year, everyone seems to be convinced that your friend is coming to the party, because everyone is convinced that the Clippers are at least going to the Western Conference Finals.  However, slowly, the Clippers have been surpassed in the standings by the Warriors and Spurs.  They are reverting back to the same team we’ve seen the last few years that is inconsistent at the defensive end, and a bench that can only rely upon the firepower of Jamal Crawford.  Call me when your friend actually shows up to the party.

To College Hoops where the Bruins put together an impressive performance in the Wooden Legacy Tournament over the holiday weekend.  UCLA put together three wins in four days, including victories over Nebraska and Texas A&M to win the tournament.  Bryce Alford looks much better without the ball in his hands, while Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf continue to make their mark.  The Bruins haven’t been this much fun to watch in years.  However, the most impressive part of the last two wins was the fact UCLA defended and played a slower, grind it out, type of game.  They’ll need that versatility as they continue to play better teams.  Those better teams are coming up with matchups against Kentucky and Michigan over the next two weeks.  The Bruins haven’t been this much fun to watch in years, and according to Lonzo Ball’s dad, they are going to win the National Championship.

The Dodgers have been ordered to reduce their debt by Major League Baseball.  MLB rules state that after an ownership change, a team must comply with the debt service rules within 5 years.  Those rules are that a teams debt must be no more than 12 times annual revenue, minus expenses.  This brings up a few important points.  First of all, it’s going to make it that much more difficult to re-sign Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner this winter.  Second of all, it’s a reminder to all you whiny babies who complain that the team was “too greedy” when it put together its TV deal, when it was just trying to be competitive, while some of you were just too lazy to change your cable provider.  Thirdly, why can’t the MLB order the Dodgers not to blow money on scrubs like Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, and Brett Anderson? Had Friedman and his band of nerds not screwed up there, then maybe the Dodgers would be more like the Cubs, who have no such debt problems and nicely supplemented their youth with quality veterans.  Sure enough it was the Cubs who handled the Dodgers in the postseason, and went on to win the World Series.

Here come the LA Kings.  LA has won 5 in a row, and now they are getting some of their injured players back like Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik.  LA’s defense has been so good, they have made Peter Budaj, a questionable NHL goaltender, look like a very good NHL goaltender.  This team may not be as good as the 2012 team that won the Stanley Cup, but once they get Jonathan Quick back, they are going to be a lot better than we expected.  Then there’s the Ducks who have lost three of their last four.  Ryan Getzlaf actually scored on Saturday to help end their skid.  Getzlaf still scores goals? He’s scored less this season than most married guys do.

Finally, another episode of The Walking Dead went down on AMC last night.  Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see it, so read no further if you plan on watching it later.  Did anybody actually remember that Tara and Heath left the group to go on a supply run?  Also, did anybody really care, or care if they got killed in the process? This episode was ok, but it seems to create an unnecessary additional story arc.  Now we have another community in Oceanside, that was terrorized by the Saviors at one point, and got away after the Saviors killed all their men.  The last five episodes have now created five different arcs in five different communities: The Kingdom, The Saviors, Alexandria, Hilltop, and Oceanside.  That’s a lot of communities, but I fully expect the next two episodes, and potentially the rest of this season, to connect all of these different communities.  I’m one that has said most people are unnecessarily complaining about the show, but for this episode the complaint is valid.  Tara just isn’t interesting enough to make an entire episode about her and Oceanside.  These stories should all be intertwined much earlier within each episode.  This feels somewhat lazy on the part of the writers.  Also, why is Tara so cool regarding Heath’s whereabouts? Doesn’t it seems like he was kidnapped?  Despite this disappointing episode, I’m still looking forward to the final two episodes in 2016.

tara

Monday Morning Coffee

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November 21st, 2016

The Jared Goff era began yesterday at the Coliseum but the Rams still couldn’t get back in the win column.  If you like offense, then you probably didn’t like watching this game.  The Rams didn’t exactly look a whole lot better on offense with their rookie QB, but Goff was steady, and showed some signs of potential.  I wish Jeff Fisher would have opened up the playbook and let him throw the ball down the field, rather than spoon feeding him the playbook.  If anything, this game was a reminder of just how inept LA’s offense line and receivers are, and how much work they need to be able to actually become a good team.  That’s really a shame though because the defense is damn good, and defensive tackle Aaron Donald is arguably the best player in football right now.  The Rams  aren’t totally out of the NFC Wild Card chase, but the rest of their schedule is a death trap, starting with road games against the Saints and Patriots.  Knowing this team though, they’ll probably end up beating New England and Seattle while losing all the other games that seem winnable.

Elsewhere around Week 11, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks are elite again, while the Eagles are mediocre again, as Seattle beat dismantled Philly.  No Gronk, but no problem for the Patriots, as they took care of the 49ers.  The Redskins were all over the Packers, and Kirk Cousins is way better at football than most of you thought.  The Steelers beat up on the Browns, and Cleveland is working on asking the NFL if they can forfeit the rest of their games.  The Lions took down the Jaguars and Calvin Johnson is somewhere wondering why Detroit decided to start winning after he retired.  Carson Palmer must think it’s playoff time because he threw a 100 yard pick 6, as the Vikings beat the Cardinals.  The Cowboys won against the Ravens and Tony Romo didn’t get injured.  That’s always an excellent weekend for Dallas.  The Colts were so desperate to beat the Titans that they actually resorted to using the wild cat.  It worked, but I thought that scheme died after Tim Tebow left the NFL.  The Bills topped the Bengals, and AJ Green is now out for the season with a hamstring tear, which virtually ends the Bengal’s season.  The Giants took down the Bears, and now Kristin Cavallari can’t talk shit anymore on everybody that’s talking shit on her husband, Jay Cutler.  The Bucs surprised the Chiefs, and it’s gotta be tough for K.C. to win when their best player is their kicker.  The Saints beat the Panthers on TNF, in a game that couldn’t go five minutes without a player getting injured.  There were five misses on extra points yesterday.  It’s like Blair Walsh was kicking for every team.  This sound guy definitely picked the wrong time to run by the Vikings tunnel….

The Bruins put up a spirited effort against the Trojans on Saturday night, but that lasted about as long as Hillary Clinton’s chances on election night.  USC got another big game from Sam Darnold, and handled UCLA 36-14 at the Rose Bowl.  Despite the early struggles in this game, USC is back to playing like one of the best programs in the country.  In fact, they are playing so well that it would be a shame if Colorado wins next week, and goes to the Pac 12 title game instead of them.  A Rose Bowl appearance against a team like Ohio State or Michigan would be an amazing feat for a program that appeared to be shattered less than two months ago.  As for the Bruins, most will point to having Mike FaFaul, a walk-on, start this game.  Let’s not pretend though like Josh Rosen would have made all the difference in the world.  UCLA still couldn’t run the ball, and their receivers don’t scare anybody.  What happened to all those big physical lineman they were going to recruit?  Last year the excuse was the injuries on defense, and this year it’s Rosen.  Where was the defense on Saturday night? It let them down, just as much as Jim Mora has at the end of every season.  Once again, the Bruins lose their final home game of the season, as they have the last couple of years.  The last few years it seems like the Bruin football program’s self-worth has been defined by that game.  That’s pathetic because the talent has been there to do so much better on a national level.  Jim Mora has turn this group into a bunch of annual underachievers.

Notre Dame is now 4-7, and they’ve managed to do it without playing a single team that is currently ranked in the AP Poll.  That’s not easy to achieve so congrats to my Irish.  The Irish should play the Cleveland Browns in the Waffle House Flag Football Iron Bowl.  Also, Brian Kelly is now 15-14 in his last 29 games.  Coincidentally, Charlie Strong was 15-14 in his final 29 games at Texas, before he was fired yesterday.  Strong had no chance from the moment he took that job, since he was their fallback plan to Nick Saban.  Louisville players definitely picked the wrong week to complain about not being in the Top 4 of the College Football Playoff, because they got wacked by Houston.  Next week’s top 4 will probably consist of Alabama, Alabama, Alabama, and Alabama.  Even with Washington’s loss to USC, they can still make it into the playoff by winning out, and winning the Pac 12 Title game.  It’s only been a couple of seasons and we already need this playoff to get to 8 or even 16 teams to make it more fair.  It’s not like college kids are doing anything in December anyway over Christmas break.

To the NBA, where the Lakers are getting better, but they reminded us how much work they still have to do the last couple of games.  San Antonio executed at a much higher level, which is a level the young Lakers just aren’t at yet.  The same can be said for Chicago, who rode on the coattails of Jimmy Butler to beat the Lake Show last night.  In all these games the Lakers have lost, they still need to learn to beat the elite teams in the 4th quarter, and play smarter.  That’s why I’m not sold yet that they can make the playoffs, especially when you consider the schedule over the next few weeks.    As for D’Angelo Russell, he was definitely favoring the knee last night, and if it’s an issue, the Lakers should shut him down until he is right.  In case you haven’t realized how good Julius Randle has been,  he’s one of seven players in the Association that are averaging at least 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists.  The other 6? Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Lebron James, and Giannis Antetokounmpo.  That feels like just the start of players on this team that can develop into excellent NBA players.

Then there’s the Clippers who are still rolling.  The Clipps are 12-2 and Blake Griffin has scored 20+ points in 7 straight games, and he’s been killing people inside the paint.  I’ve always thought that Chris Paul would have a much steeper decline in performance by 31 years of age, but he really hasn’t.  In fact, he’s shooting a career high percentage from three point land, and is averaging a career high in steals per game.  The bench has been nice too, but can we just get to the point where we get to see the Warriors facing the Clippers? We’re still a little over a week away from these two Western Conference powerhouses meeting, but I’m not so convinced the Clippers can beat them, especially not in a 7 game series.

Phil Jackson is arguably the greatest coach in American team sports.  However, as a front office executive, he is completely out of touch with how to handle himself.  His latest blunder as an exec came when he claimed Lebron James requires special treatment, and that when James was with Miami, he and his “posse” wanted to spend an extra night in Cleveland.  Of course James took offense to this.  Obviously Phil Jackson isn’t racist, but he has a history of making crude, ridiculous, and obnoxious comments about players (sometimes his own) through the media.  When you have Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neil on your team and you are winning championships, you can get away with it.  However, as an exec without them, you can’t.  Phil is now trying to run an outdated offense modern day players don’t want to run, and now he’s going to have free agents questioning him prior to joining the Knicks.  This is the guy some of you Laker fans want to be a part of the teams front office? Phil the coach is legendary.  Phil the executive is far from it.

It’s nice to see UCLA basketball taking care of business against the opponents they should be blowing out of the gym.  This may not seem like a big deal, but last night’s blow out win against Long Beach State is the type of game we’ve seen the Bruins lose at home over the last few years, even with elite talent.  TJ Leaf and Lonzo Ball have looked great, and the Bruins are on track to be undefeated come their showdown with Kentucky in two weeks.  I still don’t understand why Steve Alford can’t trust a couple of more players to add to his regular rotation.  If he wants to play this up and down style, he needs bodies, especially if he wants to keep the intensity at the defensive end.  I haven’t seen the Bruins look this good so early in five years, but I’m reserving my excitement until I see them play some real teams.

It’s been a very rough first twenty games of the season for the LA Kings, but somehow, they are tied for first place in the Pacific Division after beating the Ducks last night 3-2.  It’s pretty hard to win when you don’t have your starting goaltender, two of your top 6 forwards, and one top four defenseman.  However, the Kings are finding young players like Nic Dowd and Kevin Gravel to pick up the slack, and develop in the process.  I have officially jumped on the “I have a man crush on Nic Dowd bandwagon”.    Not only are these young players how the Kings are going to get through this  stretch without their key players, but it’s how they will better contend for a cup, as they become more reliable when everyone is completely healthy.  As for Anaheim, even after last nights loss they are still part of that three way tie for first in the Pacific, winning 6 of their last 10.  I’d still be a little concerned about Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf though.  Getzlaf has just 1 goal in his first 15 games, while Perry has four in 18 games.  As these guys are aging, their production is coming further into question.

Congratulations to Dave Roberts for winning the NL Manager of the Year.  Roberts did a great job managing a team that lost its only reliable starting pitcher for the majority of the season, and dealing with a bunch of injuries since his GM signed a bunch of guys made out of glass.  Unfortunately for Dodger fans, the team has raised ticket prices on all seats for next seats. I have no problem if a good team wants to raise ticket prices because they are contending for a World Series Championship.  The Dodgers aren’t fooling anybody, thinking they actually are going to assemble a team that is going to truly contend.  Under Andrew Friedman, they are lowering payroll, and looking for “cost-effective options” at every opportunity, as opposed to trying to supplement their great farm system with quality pieces that can put them over the top.  We’re likely to see this play out when Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner sign with new teams in the next few weeks.  If the Dodgers want to raise ticket prices, they should be raising their payroll, rather than lowering it.  The Dodgers have been in the playoffs for 6 of the past 8 years, and they still have no World Series title for the past 28 years.  Not sure how anybody can look at this new front office as any kind of success compared to the previous front office.

Congrats to Mike Trout as well for winning the AL MVP award.  It’s his second career MVP, and a reminder that he is on his way to becoming one of the best players in the history of the game.  That’s also a reminder of why the Angels wouldn’t dare trade him, no matter how bad the team gets.  Also, in case you missed it, Kate Upton, who is engaged to Tigers Pitcher Justin Verlander, went off on Twitter after losing the Cy Young award to Rick Porcello.  This woman has no chill……

Finally, another episode of The Walking Dead went down on AMC last night.  Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see it so read no further if that is the case.  This episode was a little slow, taking us back to the Hilltop, where Maggie slowly gets her health back.  The Saviors visit Hilltop and bully Gregory for a little bit.  The only real suspenseful moment was whether or not Gregory was going to rat out Sasha and Maggie to the Saviors for staying with the Hilltop, even after saving them from Walkers the night before.  Gregory is nothing more than a figurehead at Hilltop, and by the end of the episode, Maggie has basically positioned herself as the leader of the community.  You might as well add him to the “characters that are for sure going to die” list.  Anybody that cares about their own life more than others in this show is toast, and that’s exactly what he does.  Both Maggie and Sasha are looking more and more bad ass by the minute, and the deaths of Glenn and Abraham are pushing them toward any revenge they can get.  What the hell is Carl thinking?  He goes on a rollerblading date with Enid, and suddenly thinks it’s a good idea to jump in the back of the Saviors truck to go exact some type of revenge. My guess is that Negan is just going to toy with him and not actually kill him.   Sounds more reckless to me than anything else, but then again, Sasha’s request that Jesus do the same is just as ridiculous.  Jesus is one loyal dude though.  Enid had Hershel’s watch. Does everybody get a turn with Hershel’s watch?  That thing has been passed around more than the Kardashian sisters during NBA All-Star weekend.  We’ve got several strong characters developing quickly in this season, but I’m curious to see how it’s going to come together in an attempt to take down the Saviors.  It’s probably the women that lead the charge: Maggie, Sasha, and Michonne, who ultimately lead the war against Negan.

carl-episode-5-twd

Monday Morning Coffee

ingram-v-pelicans

November 14th, 2016

There is much to get to in this edition of Monday Morning Coffee, so let’s start with the Lakers.  Taking two out of three on their latest road trip isn’t too bad and after 11 games, a 6-5 record is a very pleasant surprise.  I’m going to overlook the fact that Andrew Wiggins looked like Dominique Wilkins last night, and the Lake Show was blown out of the building.  Instead I’ll focus on the positive.  Luke Walton is playing with a 10 man rotation, with each one playing between 20-25 minutes a night, and closing with the group of players that are playing the best.  There’s a ton of mistakes being made, but there’s energy, there’s effort on defense, and there’s accountability.  On any given night, I’m actually starting to believe that this team can beat anybody that they play.  On the other hand though, if the Lakers are gonna play .500 ball, the playoffs are a realistic goal. If that’s the case then they can’t afford to lose games to Minnesota and Dallas like they did last week.  This is definitely a fun team to watch, and one that Laker fans can really get excited about.  Let’s hope they get back in the win column against Brooklyn on Tuesday before the schedule gets tougher again.

As for the Clippers, they’ve got the best record in the NBA after 10 games, and they are off to their best start in franchise history.  However, nobody cares, and it’s not just because they are the red headed step child of LA sports teams.  It’s because they will be defined by whether or not they make it past the 2nd round of the playoffs, which they have never done.  I fully expect Golden State to get their act together and finish 1st in the West.  However, the Clipps best hopes of getting to the conference finals are to finish 1st so they can avoid what is likely to be the Warriors or Spurs in the 2nd round.  In that case, I guess I should say that nobody cares about the Clippers until the playoffs, but the Clippers should care about the regular season if they have hopes of making a real playoff run.  Between the Lakers and the Clippers, the NBA in LA is getting very fun to watch.

On to the NFL and the Rams.  Look people…our troops don’t defend our freedom in this country so we can watch Case Keenum vs Bryce Petty on Sundays.  That Rams-Jets game went exactly the way we thought it would, with neither team being able to do anything on offense.  The Rams may have come away with the ugly 9-6 win, but it’s nothing more than a game that one of two mediocre teams had to win.  As usual, Jeff Fisher didn’t put any blame on the quarterback, and gave us no reason to think he’s going to give Jared Goff a chance to start next week against Miami.  Since Case Keenum is easily the worst starting quarterback in the NFL, and Fisher insists on keeping Goff on the bench, I’ve subscribed  to a new theory.  The theory is that Fisher and General Manager Les Snead realize that Goff really isn’t that good, and that trading their first born child for him in the draft was a mistake.  That’s right folks, that means that Goff isn’t even better than the worst starting quarterback in the NFL right now.  Since Fisher and Snead know this, they won’t let Goff see the field or else everyone will realize how badly they screwed up, and they could lose their jobs.  In other words, keeping Goff on the bench actually increases their job security.  As if the quarterback situation isn’t bad enough, I’m beginning to wonder about Todd Gurley too, since he’s yet to have a 100 yard game this year.  Gurley might just be an average NFL running back, and not the all-pro we thought he was going to be last year.  In fact, Gurley might not even be the best back on the Rams, given how Benny  Cunningham looked yesterday.  Collectively, the offense is so bad, I can’t tell who is a stiff and who is actually a serviceable player.

Elsewhere around week 10 of the NFL, I don’t know how the Chargers do it.  They lost another game late in the 4th, this time on a Philip Rivers pick 6, at the hands of the Miami Dolphins.  The Bolts are now losing on and off the field.  More on that in a moment.  I’m surprised that Tony Romo wasn’t waiving one of those terrible towels yesterday, in hopes that Dak would screw up and he’d get his starting job back next week.  Sorry Tony, Cowboys got by the Steelers in a good one.  Jay Cutler is back to throwing interceptions, so everything in our country seems right again.  The Bucs beat up on the Bears.  The Packers defense has as many holes as the cheese that’s made in Wisconsin, and they got blown away by the Titans.   The Browns couldn’t even get a win in the same week that a reality TV star became President, as the Ravens beat up on Cleveland.  Carson Wentz got his game back and the Eagles took down the Falcons.  Saints fans are probably jumping in the bayou with the alligators after losing to the Broncos on a blocked PAT.  The Texans beat the Jaguars in a game that should have been aired on Comedy Central.  Sam Bradford has suddenly remembered that he’s only Sam Bradford, and the Vikings lost again, this time to the Redskins.  Cam Newton brought back the dab, but that wasn’t enough to get the Panthers to beat the Chiefs.  The Cardinals got by the lowly 49ers, who have nothing but Colin Kapernick’s political crusade to keep them relevant.  There’s always time for a selfie at an NFL game right?

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The city of San Diego voted against a hotel tax that would fund a stadium downtown for the Chargers.  That leaves the Chargers with very few good options.  They’ve been trying to get funding for a new stadium for 16 years, and the city just won’t do it.  Now it seems as though their only viable option for a new stadium is to go to LA, and share the new Inglewood stadium with the Rams.  That may be a smart monetary move for the Chargers, but they would become by far the most irrelevant team in the LA sports landscape.  The Bolts would have completely alienated all of their San Diego fans, while simultaneously struggling to  build a new fan base in a market that’s already dominated by the Rams.  It’s a crummy situation for the Chargers who are either going to lose money, or lose their fans.  It also means that we might be just a year away from having not 1, but 2 terrible NFL football teams in Los Angeles.

To college football, where the Trojans pulled off the big upset against #4 Washington on Saturday.  I wasn’t really sure, but now I am: USC is back, and Clay Helton is off the hot seat.  Helton has found a dynamic quarterback in Sam Darnold.  The kid takes chances, but he’s one of the best freshman quarterbacks we’ve seen at ‘SC in the last twenty years.  It’s not just Darnold’s greatness that’s putting the Trojans on this run.  The defense shut down one of the most dynamic offenses in the country, and the special teams play has been huge during their six game winning streak.  That streak is something that hasn’t been done by USC since the Pete Carroll era, which the Trojans have been desperately trying to replicate since his departure.  It would almost be a shame at this point if USC doesn’t get a chance to play Washington again in the Pac 12 Title game.  The Trojans still need to win against UCLA and hope for Utah and Colorado to lose another game for that to happen.  That’s a little bit of a long shot.  Looking back on it, losing to Utah and Alabama was understandable, but the Stanford loss is what really hurt.

It was nice to see the Bruins get back in the win column on the football field against Oregon State.  it was also good to see Mike Fafaul get himself a win as the Bruins starting quarterback.  However, it’s going to be blood bath next week when UCLA takes on USC at the Rose Bowl.  I have no idea how the Bruins are going to be able to move the ball considering that have no running game, and the Trojan secondary is going to be licking their chops at every pass Fafaul puts in the air.  This one could get ugly.

Elsewhere around college football, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame managed to avoid an embarrassment this weekend by beating Army.  That counts as something significant these days for the Irish, who have suffered mass amounts of humiliation this season.  Then there’s the chaos that is now the polls after Clemson, Michigan, and Washington lost.  I do hope this moves Louisville up in the ranks though, because they would probably give Alabama the best game in the playoffs.  Meanwhile, Alabama beat up on Mississippi State, clinching the SEC West title, and inspiring tons of inbred sex on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa.  There’s also UNLV’s backup punter who wasn’t really planning on playing, and instead wore his girlfriend’s Yoga pants to the game…..

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Is UCLA basketball back? Ok maybe not, but they look pretty damn exciting in their first two games.  Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf are already looking like super freshman, and the Bruins have depth.  I’m not going to lose my mind over a couple of wins against Northridge and Pacific, but we’ve seen UCLA have major let downs at home against those types of schools in recent years.  The Bruins should win their next four games and be undefeated going into their showdown against Kentucky.  That will be the first true test on the national stage.  This team is going to score, but as with any Steve Alford team, the question is whether or not they can play defense.  They have the athleticism to do so, it’s just a matter of being accountable on that end of the floor.  Also, now that Arizona appears to have lost it’s best player, the Bruins have an even better chance to win the Pac 12.

As for USC basketball, their off to two quick wins against easy opponents, but it’s like everyone completely forgot about their success last year.  They finished 6th in the Pac 12 last year, and were actually picked to finish 6th again, mostly due to a couple of players turning pro.  However, Andy Enfield’s recruiting has been a little bit underrated the last couple of years, and he has some players that can help make some noise in the conference, and be dangerous again come tournament time.  What isn’t going to help USC though is that they don’t have a single non-conference game against a ranked opponent.

To baseball, where I had a feeling Andrew Friedman was going to do something stupid.  Sure enough he did.  He traded Howie Kendrick to the Phillies for two useless minor leaguers.  Farhan Zaidi, Friedman’s “whipping boy”, explained that his was simply done to create payroll flexibility.  Thank god for that considering there are no good free agents out there.  The Dodgers have a good third baseman and a good closer, but they are about to give us a bunch of excuses about why they aren’t going to sign them, even after clearing $14 million with the trades of Kendrick and Carlos Ruiz.  I’m also going to lose my mind the next time I hear Zaidi or Friedman say they have starting pitching depth.  Apparently these guys didn’t watch the same NLCS that we did, when they had no starters beyond Clayton Kershaw who they could give the ball too.

I’ve been telling you for about a year now, but nobody was listening.  Donald Trump had a real shot to be the next President of the United States.  Now it’s finally happened, so I’m not surprised.  Now that we’re here though, people need to stop losing their minds.  Give the man a chance before you continue your protesting, complaining, and threats to move to Canada.  I can’t believe somebody hung the Nazi flag in San Francisco as a sign of protest.  Really people? So Donald Trump is Hitler? Apparently some people have zero historical perspective.  People complained about Ronald Regan when he was elected because he was an actor, yet he turned out to be one of our best Presidents ever.  Wait and see what happens before you start complaining.  As for Hillary, she foolishly failed to campaign extensively in the most critical states she needed, which she totally took for granted, just like many of Donald Trump’s opponents over the last year.

Finally, a 90 minute episode of The Walking Dead went down on AMC last night.  Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see it, so read no further if that is the case.  We finally get back to Alexandria and see how the group is doing, but the entire episode was Negan basically taunting Rick as his people raided the Alexandrian’s supplies.  Learning that Rick is aware that Judith isn’t really his daughter and is Shane’s, really didn’t have quite the effect on me as I thought it would.  Since Lori died four seasons ago when Judith was born, we are just so far removed for me to be really connected with it anymore.  However, I get the significance, which is that Rick is willing to endure these difficult situations like this, and still raise Judith like she is his own.  The fact that Rick didn’t smash Negan over the head with Lucille just goes to show you how much fight has been taken out of Rick.  The same can be said for Darryl, who didn’t even have the energy to convince Negan he wanted to stay in Alexandria.  It’s interesting that Negan doesn’t want to kill women, but it’s actually the women in this group that are probably the most dangerous to him: Michonne, Maggie, Sasha, and Rosita.  I suspect they will be the ones that are going to inspire the group to take down Negan.  I haven’t heard that much talk about guns since the Presidential election.  Negan is definitely not a guy you want to be “audited” by during the apocalypse.  Not a bad episode, but I’d say my least favorite of the first four we’ve seen this season.  Looking forward to seeing what’s up back at Hilltop next week.

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