Category Archives: Morning Coffee

Monday Morning Coffee

July 18, 2022

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

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

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

.

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

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

Monday Morning Coffee

Image

July 11, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

Monday Morning Coffee

July 4, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday Morning Coffee

July 27, 2022

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

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

Image

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

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

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

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

Monday Morning Coffee

June 20, 2022

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

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


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

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

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

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

Monday Morning Coffee

June 13, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday Morning Coffee

June 6, 2022

James Worthy is really acting like the “get off my lawn” old man these days. He came out recently and said NBA players have no fundamentals or life experience and that all they want to do “is practice threes, lift weights, get tattoos, tweet and go on social media. That’s it.” Ok the lack of fundamentals and life experience is fair, and that it can hurt both the college and pro game. However, if players do put the work in, you can argue that today they have to be more skilled to stay in the league than before, since everybody has to be a three-point threat these days. He also said that the Lakers refuse to build like other teams, and develop players like Memphis, Boston, and Milwaukee. I think James is forgetting that all those really nice players all those teams have has only resulted in one title. The Lakers mortgaged the future to win now, and they got their title. I would argue the Bucks title came because they got the best player in the league, Giannis. It’s a little bit prisoner of the moment thinking by the Hall of Famer, but a different way of doing things than the rest of the league because the Lakers are in the biggest, best, and most glamorous basketball market. Also, congratulations to Lebron James who’s net worth has exceeded $1 billion. This story also goes to show you how people just don’t understand money though. I love all the people on Twitter who are saying that Lebron is worth more than Jeanie Buss. The Lakers are worth $4 billion according to Forbes, so people should check their math. There’s also the people saying Lebron could pay for the Lakers payroll for a whole year and not feel it. If I stripped you of 10% of your net worth, I’m pretty sure you would feel it people. In any case, amusing nonetheless.

As for the NBA Finals, the Warriors really turned it around last night to tie the series at 1-1 against the Celtics. Jordan Poole came to life just in time to save the Warriors season. I’m really not sure what happened in game 1 in the 4th quarter. Al Horford turned into Reggie Miller, and Steve Kerr thought he was playing a preseason game at the MGM Grand by playing his reserves a little too long. In game 2 it was a different story though. I have no problem with the referees not giving Draymond a 2nd technical foul early in the game for his altercation with Jaylen Brown. As much as I criticize referees for being completely inconsistent with their calls, they were aware that ejecting Draymond would have been a greater compromise on the integrity of the outcome of the game. That’s a lot bigger than just ejecting him for the sake of being consistent. For now, Laker fans can breathe a sigh of relief since the series is tied, but I’m still awfully nervous that this could be a seven game series, and the Warriors could get dominated on the road in Boston.

To baseball, where the Dodgers just ended a brutal 31 game in 30 day stretch by splitting a series with the Mets at home. The split with the Mets is ok all things considered. Sure those east coast homers are going to say the Mets were without Scherzer and DeGrom, but the Dodgers were without Clayton Kershaw, Dustin May, Blake Treinen, and Max Muncy. That’s not just a wash, it’s actually a slight advantage for the Mets. In any case, a 19-12 record in that stretch is pretty good, and the best part is they don’t have to play the Pirates again this year, who have owned the Boys in Blue in the first few months. Where I am concerned though is about the lack of power from Freddie Freeman. He’s on pace for about 12 home runs, despite the fact his average is decent. Walker Buehler also has some things to figure out as well with his mechanics, but I’m confident he will get it right. I still think the Dodgers need another starter to beef up their rotation come playoff time, but there is plenty of time for that. I don’t think anybody would have imagined Tyler Anderson would ever put together 26 straight shutout innings. Andrew Friedman’s computer won that round. However, I’m not sure you can count on that come October. All things considered, the Dodgers are still in a good place.

As for the Angels, they have lost 11 in a row, and fans are about to put on a suicide vest the next game they watch. How does a team with Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout lose 11 in a row? Their pitching has regressed toward the mean, with the starters getting dominated of late. Entering Sunday, the starters were 0-5 with an era of 7.96 in the previous 9 games, and the games they didn’t pitch like garbage, the bullpen imploded. That was the case yesterday. On top of that, Mike Trout is 0 for his last 26 at bats, and is apparently a terrible fantasy baseball commissioner on top of that. Ohtani hasn’t exactly been killing it at the plate either, so it’s really the perfect storm of disaster. If this keeps up, the Angels are going to be forced to move to Palmdale instead of Long Beach. If the Angels don’t turn it around soon, Joe Maddon may also end up taking the fall.

To the NFL, where the Rams still have not come to a deal with Aaron Donald, and he is making noise about it. Donald said last week that he is at peace if ended up retiring and doesn’t come to a new contract agreement with the team. I love the fact that AD says it’s not about the money, it’s about winning, but football is still a business. Good one AD, we get it, you want to get paid, and you deserve it. Just don’t tell me it’s only about winning for you right now. There is definitely some risky business even paying somebody like Aaron Donald $28 million a year in a salary cap league when he’s 30 years old. However, AD is talking like a guy who isn’t going to play another 5 years in the league. It certainly would make a guy like Les Snead think about what he could do with an extra $28 million of cap room, however, in the end, I still think they will get a deal done.

Finally, UCLA Basketball got some tough news last week, which was that Jules Bernard has played his last game as a Bruin. It appears as though Bernard is going to put everything into pursuing an NBA career, even if it means playing in the G-League next year. I once again think Bernard is getting bad advice here, as he’s not ready. That leaves Tiger Campbell, Amari Bailey, Jaylen Clarke, Jaime Jacques, Adam Bona, and a bench of David Singleton, Will McCkeldon, Marc Etienne, and David Nwuba. That’s a nice starting five, but a much thinner bench than Mick Cronin probably thought he was going to be operating with. Here come the Bruins looking into the transfer portal for more help.

Monday Morning Coffee

May 30, 2022

Happy Memorial Day everyone! The Lakers finally stopped messing around and hired Darvin Ham as their Head Coach over the weekend. They also finally adjusted to what they had not done previously: gave their head coach a 4-year deal and let him hire his own staff. The coaching market wasn’t exactly littered with big names, but this was way better than hiring some re-tread and hoping for the best. Ham is more than qualified to be a head coach with his tenure as an assistant. It also puts an end to the ridiculous idea that they could hire Doc Rivers, which would have been a disaster. Now if they can just fix the roster. All this talk about not wanting to move a first round pick in order to move Russell Westbrook is ridiculous. If the Lakers aren’t willing to move a 1st rounder that is 5 years from now, they might as well start rebuilding now. The Lakers need able bodied wing players, and moving Westbrook with that pick might be the only way to get them, even if it means taking on additional years of salary. Besides, there are no super star free agents available in the next couple of off-seasons that they should be trying to maintain their flexibility for. Can we stop it with the Zach Lavine rumors too? Yes, I realize that even he is interested in playing for the Lakers, but apparently his agent hasn’t explained to him how the salary cap works.

As for the NBA Finals, this is every Laker and Lebron fans worst nightmare: Celtics vs Warriors. It’s the Bay Area organic snobs vs the Clam Chowder snobs. Make no mistake about it, if you’re a Laker fan, there’s no way the Celtics win this series, and if they do you are jumping off the Santa Monica pier because they have more championships than LA at that point. As great as Steph Curry’s legacy is if he wins this series, it’s still not better than Lebron’s, who has been compared to the greatest player of all-time. Nobody is comparing Steph to that. I did come away very impressed with the Miami Heat though, even though they lost in 7. Not sure how they made it as close as they did with a hobbled Jimmy Butler, and no reliable 2nd scorer. This was all guts and grit, and they almost pulled it off, had Butler made that 3-pointer in the final seconds.

To baseball where complaining about the Dodgers right now is like complaining that the red wine isn’t as good as the white wine. Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman are basically like Shaq and Kobe, just dominating every game they play. Betts suddenly looks like an MVP candidate after a slow start, and the pitching staff has been the best in baseball so far. Of course you can complain about the ups and downs of Justin Turner (who is up right now), Cody Bellinger, and Max Muncy (who is injured and down right now). However, when the lineup is this deep, not everybody needs to be hot at one time, and you can afford to have those ups and downs. There’s also these wild rumors about the Dodgers trading for Juan Soto. This is purely a fantasy baseball idea. There’s no need for the Dodgers to add another power hitting outfielder to their lineup. It’s overkill. It’s adding a Ferrari to your garage when you already have 5 of them. If the Dodgers should add anything at the trade deadline, it’s pitching. Unfortunately, there really are no elite pitchers to be had at the deadline like last year. More than anything, they just need a healthy Clayton Kershaw to hold up in October.

As for the Angels, the last week has been hell for them. They’ve lost 5 in a row, and are now 3 games back of the Astros in the AL West. Apparently the concession stand registers weren’t working the other night at The Big A, so they were giving away some food. I didn’t realize though that the malfunctioning of the registers meant giving away baseball games as well. This is a $90 million bullpen that is pitching like a 9 cent bullpen. How do you lose a game in which Ohtani homers twice, while Taylor Ward and Max Stassi drive in a total of 7 runs? I’d complain about the durability of Anthony Rendon, but he can’t pitch anyway. Not sure there are any immediate answers for that group other than to just hope they pitch better in high leverage situations, especially with the Yankees looming this week. Then there’s the Anaheim Stadium sale corruption scandal, which forced the resignation of the Mayor of Anaheim, Harry Sidhu. This makes you wonder whether the Angels will really stay in Anaheim for the next decade, or if there is still a possibility they end up in Long Beach. Not that Arte Moreno did anything wrong here, but is anyone really surprised that this happened while Moreno owned the team? It was going to be a sweet-heart deal for the Angels, which Arte has to have to be able to afford to stay in Anaheim.

So Colin Kapernick was invited to workout for the Raiders last week, and supposedly it went “really well”. Weird, because I’ve been looking everywhere for the “Colin Kapernick signs with the Raiders” news and can’t find it anywhere. It must be somewhere right? Nope. This was nothing but a publicity stunt by Mark Davis. Stop wasting our time with this Kapernick thing. It’s been six years since he’s been in the league. The guy isn’t coming back, and when he started his whole BLM movement, he was already a backup QB in the league. At that point, nobody wants a backup QB on their team who is going to make a lot of noise about anything (even if you think it’s a worthy cause). They also don’t want one that has been out of the league for 6 years either. I credit Kapernick for the efforts he’s made on racial injustice, but let’s stop pretending like he’s coming back to football.

Finally, “Top Gun: Maverick” just posted the biggest opening movie weekend of Tom Cruise’s career. It did $156 million. Although it’s not the forever pop culture icon that first one was, it’s still a really good movie that is very entertaining. It was also released with brilliant timing. Memorial Day Weekend, and a movie that didn’t have anything political thrown out at you. Even though I’m not a fan of sequels, this one was actually worth seeing.

Monday Morning Coffee

T.

May 23, 2022

The Lakers have reportedly narrowed down their coaching search to three finalists: Darwin Ham, Terry Stotts, and Kenny Atkinson. Those reports also indicated that Ham is the frontrunner, and that is Lebron’s preferred choice. Knowing how the Lakers coaching searches have gone in recent years, that probably means they will hire Mike Dunleavy. In all seriousness, I wish they would hurry up and hire Ham so that they don’t overthink it and do anything stupid. Then there’s the wild Zach Lavine rumors Lavar Ball started, suggesting he wants to be a Laker this summer. Not only would this be extremely difficult from a salary cap perspective (which Eric Pincus can tell you all about), but it’s not even a good idea. Lavine has consistently missed a chunk of games the last few years with a knee issue. The Lakers don’t need another $30+ million player who is going to be hurt all the time. They need effective 3 and D role players that can surround Lebron and AD. This is also something they shouldn’t overthink.

Elsewhere around the NBA Playoffs, ESPN should be embarrassed. They spent the entire Celtics-Heat game 3 post game talking about how “depleted” the Celtics were. Are you joking? The Heat are losing players left and right, including their best player, Jimmy Butler, and it’s the Celtics that are depleted? I’m convinced that both Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart just crapped their pants, and weren’t really injured. Andrew Wiggins just murdered Luka Doncic and put him on a poster last night in game 3 of the West Finals. The Warriors are basically a lock to go to the Finals, and we all should have known when Charles Barkley predicted the Mavs would win in 7.

The Dodgers had their 7-game win streak snapped yesterday in Philadelphia. Things are still going well, but not exactly for Max Muncy. He can’t hit right now, and he also can’t seem to field either, committing an error yesterday that cost the Dodgers the game. At this point, Edwin Rios and Will Smith should be in the 4th and 5th spot in the lineup everyday. Rios has 4 homers in his last 21 at bats, and on average homers every 9 plate appearances. However, I don’t hear anybody complaining about Mookie Betts and his contract anymore. All those idiots said he was the worst contract in baseball after seeing like 3 weeks of the season. Instead, he’s now reminding people why he’s one of the best players in baseball. The Boys in Blue are off to Washington today.

As for the Angels, they bounced back by taking 2 of 3 against the A’s over the weekend. That came after getting swept by Rangers. The Angels are right there with the Astros, but if there’s one thing that’s cost them so far it’s Joe Maddon’s super weird decisions. For instance, why is Jared Walsh not in the lineup everyday? Also, what is the guy’s obsession with Matt Duffy, who is hitting just .229 on the year? A month ago we saw him pinch hitting with the bases loaded for a guy who hit a grand slam earlier in the day. Then when it comes to Jo Adell, feels like he would rather play with 8 guys then put him in the lineup, which explains why Adell got sent to the minors. At this point, it’s not the pitching or anything in the lineup that would worry me. It’s Maddon’s decision making.

In the NFL, the Rams are still trying to work things out with Aaron Donald on a new contract. I also like how Donald’s camp is still floating rumors that he might retire if he doesn’t get the deal he wants. This is no doubt this is nothing but a leverage play to get the deal he wants from them. We’re now hearing something in the neighborhood of $28 million a year, which sounds nuts, but the guy is arguably one of the best defensive players of all-time. With the way Les Snead does salary cap gymnastics, I’m sure he will find a way to figure this out.

The LA Kings are reportedly going to give GM Rob Blake a 3-year extension. One of the things I make a point of here on Jock Talk LA is that when I am wrong (and let’s be honest, that doesn’t happen very often) I own it. I was super critical of Blake for his rebuild that has been as slow as molasses, his poor coaching choices, and what I felt were questionable trades. However, he has really proved me wrong, and I’m happy to see it. He made the best free agent acquisition last year by signing Philip Danault, his patience with the prospects is starting to pay off, and he actually made a great trade by acquiring Trevor Moore and Sean Durzi. His 3-year extension is well deserved, and the Kings may be competing for Stanley Cups again sooner than we think.

Finally, Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher went at each other last week over NIL and it was quite amusing. Saban says Texas A&M bought every player on their team to get the #1 recruiting class, and Fisher fired back by basically saying the GOAT is a cheater. Saban is a total hypocrite here because let’s be real, no way Alabama (or at least through back channels), hasn’t paid off players to build the dynasty they have in the last 15 years. Just because now that there is some legal component to it where A&M is benefitting (and others) Saban doesn’t like it. Saban also said that without NIL, there is more parity in College Football. Are you kidding Nick? College Football is the biggest waste of time the last twenty years because you’re team has dominated, along with Clemson. Maybe NIL might actually bring parity back into the game!

Monday Morning Coffee

Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (32) and teammates watch as Edmonton Oilers celebrate.

May 16, 2022

I almost forgot how horrible game 7’s are until the Kings played on Saturday night against the Oilers, and we’re eliminated. If you’re invested, it’s miserable. You’ve been spoiled by the fact that they’ve dominated game 7’s for the last decade. That was not the case with a different and younger Kings team over the weekend. The fact the Kings made it this far is impressive. Nobody expected them to make the playoffs, and they took the Oilers to 7, while missing two of their best players. Still, it doesn’t make it any less disappointing knowing the series was winnable, and that they could have closed it out in 6. However, the Kings have some huge opportunities in front of them. They have plenty of young talent, draft capital, and cap space to go improve their team. They badly need more scoring. They also need a better power play. Jonathan Quick is still amazing, but he can’t play forever, and at some point they will need another elite goalie. Cal Peterson isn’t that guy. They probably also need a #1 center, because Anze Kopitar is still great, but getting a little long in the tooth. Big salute to Dustin Brown, who played his last game, but had an amazing career. Now that Florida is playing Tampa, and Edmonton is playing Calgary, you have the battle of Florida, and the battle of Canadian Florida going on simultaneously.

To the NBA, where most Laker fans are breathing a sigh of relief. The Sixers want Doc Rivers back as their coach. You can keep him Philly, as well as that lazy lard butt James Harden. I’m still a little nervous, because Doc hasn’t committed to coming back knowing that Harden is still there, and clearly doesn’t like him. It’s not out of the question Doc backs out, especially if he knows he has another job lined up. For now, it may have been accidental, but the Lakers dodged a bullet if Doc is staying. Now they will likely go with Darwin Ham, Terry Stotts, or Quinn Snyder. Ham is the obvious choice here, and not a complete re-tread, unlike the other two choices. As for Lebron, if you’re watching the NBA playoffs, you have to ask yourself whether or not it’s a good idea to extend a 37-year-old player more than one year at a time. Chris Paul’s ability seemed to deteriorate in a matter of a week. He’s got about $90 million left on his contract and he’s 37. Lebron is already missing games, which has been a problem in 3 of the past 4 seasons. With that being said, I still have a feeling that both the Lakers and Lebron will talk themselves into doing this deal come August. It’s how both sides tend to do business. Apparently Laker coaching candidates have been asked how they would use Russell Westbrook if they were to get the job. Hopefully their answers are “as trade bait”.

I think it’s pretty obvious at this point that the Rams want to bring OBJ back and OBJ wants to be back with the Rams. This feels like all it really takes is carving out just a little bit of cap space, and a nice sit down at Nobu between OBJ, Les Snead, and Sean McVay. McVay just came out and said that he wants OBJ back. OBJ said that he wants to be back with the Rams. That should be enough motivation for both sides to get something done.

I’m not sure what in the hell happened to the Dodger pitching over the weekend. The Dodgers made the Phillies look like the ’27 Yankees with the way they were giving up runs. Apparently the Dodgers only lose to crummy teams like the Pirates and Phillies, otherwise they have been pretty solid. I’d say they should feel good about Arizona coming in next, but Arizona stinks too, which means they could give the Boys in Blue more problems! I still can’t believe we have to hear more criticism about these Dave Roberts in-game decisions. After all these years you people really still think it’s Dave Roberts who is pulling the strings here with the pitching and lineup decisions? You guys must think it’s still 1995, and have never heard of artificial intelligence or analytics. Roberts is just reading the next move off of line 54 of the spreadsheet, for all intents and purposes. Losing Clayton Kershaw to the IL hurts as well, however, at least it’s not an arm injury. I also think Kershaw could probably use the rest anyway. I’m sure this makes some of you even more annoyed that he was pulled from the perfect game to protect him, yet he still got hurt. However, think of it this way: he might have suffered an even more serious injury if he wasn’t taken out of that game.

The Angels might not be the best baseball team in LA, or the most popular by any stretch of the imagination. However, they appear to be the most fun team to watch right now. Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, and some decent pitching this year has put them in 1st place in the AL West. They’ve won 7 of their past 10 games, and have a +57 run differential, which is 2nd best in the AL. Were it not for those pesky Houston Astros who have caught fire, they would be in sole possession of 1st place in the West right now. Instead they are sharing it, which is still pretty good for the Halos. As sad as this is to say, this is probably what Arte Moreno wants. He wants to win and all, but probably cares more about having an entertaining product that will sell tickets and merchandise. For the time being he has that, so in his mind, being stingy is perfectly justified.

Finally, if you think the NIL model is shaking up College Sports you haven’t seen anything yet. There’s a new bill in the CA legislature that will be discussed this week, which would potentially force Universities to revenue share with athletes. If that happens, you can completely kiss the NCAA goodbye, and they can start posting their resume on LinkedIn. This is going to take collegiate sports to the next level, and at this point, it’s probably the most sensible and just thing to do for those that are actually making the money. It might even make collegiate sports better, because kids could stay in school longer since they are making money, and develop longer. That means by the time they get to be pros, the quality of their game will be that much better, and they’ll be more mature as well. That benefits the professional leagues too. What a concept!