Monthly Archives: August 2013

Too Many Mai Tais


August 30th, 2013

Happy College Football season everyone!  I’m not so sure how happy last night’s win over Hawaii was for Trojans fans though.  It was uninspired and unimpressive at times, but the Trojans defeated the Rainbow Warriors 30-13 on Thursday night in Honolulu.  The best news for USC is that they are 1-0, which is probably the most important fact for them at this point.  But there’s still much to be concerned about.

Midway through the 2nd quarter, the Trojans were so underwhelming, I was definitely wondering if USC athletic director Pat Haden would allow coach Lane Kiffin to return to the main land on the team flight after the game.  This team must have spent too much time at the beach, because they were losing by a score of 5-3 halfway through the 2nd quarter.  This was a game in which USC was a 23 point favorite coming in.  Fortunately, the Trojan defense helped break the game open, as Josh Shaw intercepted a pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown.

The quarterback situation was easily the most concerning issue for Southern Cal.  Cody Kessler started, played the entire first half and the first series of the 2nd half.  He was a pedestrian 10-19 for 95 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.  Early on, he looked more shaky than Dwight Howard at the free throw line, but redeemed himself slightly, with a 19-yard TD pass to Nelson Agholor .  Meanwhile, Max Wittek took most of the snaps in the 2nd half, and wasn’t much better.  Wittek was just 5-10 for 77 yards, and was sacked twice.  The Trojans went three and out on two straight series before he started to move the ball late in the 3rd quarter.  In the 4th quarter, he led one drive that ended in a field goal, and another that ended on a 3 yard run touchdown run by Justin Davis.

The good news for USC is that the defense looks very good.  The Trojans intercepted four passes, including Shaw’s pick 6.  The defensive line was excellent, getting consistent pressure on Hawaii quarterback Taylor Graham, while limiting the Rainbow Warriors offense to just 23 yards rushing and a total of 231 yards.  The Trojans will have to rely on this unit early on this season, until Lane Kiffin figures things out on the offensive side of the ball.

There were some bright spots on the offensive though.  Sophomore Tre Maddon rushed for 109 yards on 18 carries, and freshman Justin Davis ran for another 74 yards on 14 carries, to go along with his 4th quarter TD.  The great Marqise Lee caught 8 balls for 109 yards, although he did drop a couple of passes early on that stalled drives, and fumbled as well.

More than anything, the offense just looked completely disorganized and lacking chemistry.  The offensive line looked unsure of many of their blocking schemes, causing some running backs to run into their own tackles.  Outside of Lee, there wasn’t another receiver that really appeared to be emerging as a solid number 2 threat.  The Trojans also took 9 penalties that cost them 75 yards. If Taylor Graham hadn’t had one of the worst performance by a division 1 quarterback I have ever seen, the Trojans might have suffered an embarrassing loss.

It’s becoming clear now: two quarterbacks equals no quarterbacks.  The USC offense needs leadership in order to develop chemistry, and it can’t do that with their QB situation in flux.  Although neither Kessler nor Wittek look great, their lackluster performances can partially be attributed to being in limbo.  It seems like Kiffin might be leaning toward giving the job to Kessler, who completed his final 4 passes and played slightly more than Wittek.  However, Kiffin said “Neither of them separated themselves”, which makes you think we’re going to see both quarterbacks next week against Washington State.  In any case, the Trojans better iron out some of these issues over the next 9 days, because they are going to start facing some real competition next Saturday at the Coliseum.


Monday Morning Coffee


Hanley Blast

August 26th, 2013

It was quite a run for the Dodgers.   After dropping two out of three to the Red Sox over the weekend, the Boys in Blue lost their first series since mid-June.  LA went 14-0-4 in that stretch before those clam chowder eating, terrible driving, “wicked” accent speaking Boston Red Sox beat them up at Chavez Ravine.  This could have very well been a potential World Series preview, however, fear not Dodger fans, this team is still in great shape.  The team didn’t pitch their top two starters in this series, and Hyun-Jin Ryu took the mound with the flu on Saturday night.  The Dodgers still have a 9.5 game lead over 2nd place Arizona in the NL West.  Besides, did you really expect LA to keep winning those games that Chris Capuano kept getting his ass kicked in every five days?

Meanwhile, I think it’s time for the Dodgers to at least pick up the option on the final year of manager Don Mattingly’s contract next year.  Mattingly has definitely earned his keep.  He’s taken the Dodgers from the 4th worst team in baseball, to the 2nd best record in two months.  He’s done this while dealing with a ton of injuries to the club throughout the year.  He’s also successfully managed two different teams:  A completely stripped down Dodger team at the end of the Frank McCourt era, and a team with much more star power in this years Dodger team.  The players like him, he’s managed the egos well, and he’s a huge part of LA building great clubhouse chemistry.  I’m sure the Dodgers have been keeping an eye on Mike Scioscia, but why mess with success?  You don’t need an organization made up of stars in every role.  LA should also think about that this winter before they start replacing Mark Ellis and AJ Ellis with free agents Robinson Canoe and Brian McCann.

Speaking of Mike Scioscia, he denied there is a rift between himself and general manager Jerry Dipoto.  This was a rather predictable move by the Halos skipper.  However, since these two are really “on the same page”, I’d hate to see how bad this team would be if they weren’t on the same page.  Scioscia claimed that their only real public dispute was when hitting coach Mickey Hatcher was fired last year.  “The one thing that I publicly disagreed with Jerry about, and we’ve talked about it too, is when he let Mickey go.  And that’s been it.”  Scioscia also also said “our  philosophies are right in line with anything we’ve ever done here.”

That couldn’t be further from the truth, but what can you expect him to say when he knows his job could be in jeopardy?  Scioscia and Dipoto have both said they want to focus on improving the pitching staff this off-season.  Have they talked with their boss Arte Moreno yet?  Because he’s probably going to want to waste another $200 million instead on signing Robinson Canoe.

Every baseball fan should be thrilled to know that Dodgers announcer Vin Scully is coming back to call games in 2014.  It will be Scully’s 65th season as the Dodgers announcer, which is remarkable for a man who is 85 years old.  Scully could probably read a phone book, and make it interesting for his listeners.  LA sports fans have been so fortunate over the years to have 3 legendary, hall of fame, announcers in their city:  Scully, Bob Miller of the LA Kings, and the late Chick Hearn of the Lakers.


Why can’t Lane Kiffin just pick a starting quarterback for the Trojans already?  This guy is more indecisive than a 17 year old girl right now.  Kiffin said that “ideally” they don’t want to have a two quarterback system.  Then he decides that both Max Wittek and Cody Kessler will play in the season opener at Hawaii on Thursday night.  SC hasn’t used two quarterbacks since the 1995 season, when Brad Otton and Kyle Wachholtz shared the role.  USC did win the Pac-10 title that year, but these types of systems don’t usually lend themselves to effective chemistry building.  Rumor has it that Kiffin was informed that if Wittek doesn’t win the starting job, he will end up transferring, which could ultimately force him to make a decision, rather than use two quarterbacks.  I’m sure right about now many USC fans are wishing that the Trojans would use two coaches as well.

After hearing reports that Lamar Odom has been missing for 3 days, there were many things that were going through my mind.  I know many of you are expecting me to cue up the jokes on this one, and even though there are probably a multitude of them I can throw in here, it just isn’t the time.  TMZ reported over the weekend that Odom has been battling a drug problem for two years, and that he could be addicted to crack cocaine or Oxycontin or Ambien.  His family reportedly tried to stage a drug intervention, but he refused, then took off.  Nobody has been able to contact him, and his family is speculating he could be on a huge drug binge.  I’m shocked that once the news came out that he was missing, few people reporting on it took it seriously.  Sadly, this is probably because his is married to Khloe Kardashian, who people just associate with fake drama.  On Sunday evening, a rep for Lamar confirmed he was fine, yet would not discuss his whereabouts.

The Lakers and Clippers had both reached out to Odom weeks ago to gauge his interest in playing for them.  However, now it’s clear why he hasn’t signed with either.  Both teams are concerned about his drug abuse.  According to the TMZ report, Odom went to drug rehab for three weeks last August.  He stayed clean while playing for the Clippers, but then began using hardcore recreational drugs when the Clippers season ended a few months ago.    Hopefully LO is ok, can turn his life around, and this story does not have an unfortunate ending.

And finally, Breaking Bad had another riveting episode last night.  Spoiler Alert for those of you who have it on DVR, and have yet to watch it.  In classic Breaking Bad fashion, just when Walter White gets away with something, another thing far worse happens to him.  In this episode, Walter gets the upper hand on his brother-in-law, Hank Schrader, when he makes a video tape confessing his criminal activity, but simultaneously makes Hank the patsy.  This was another brilliant move by Walter, especially considering that his confession brings up the fact he paid for Hank’s medical bills, which Hank had no idea about until seeing the video.  This ends the threat of Hank telling his friends at the DEA about Walter’s criminal activity.

However, a new threat appears to be emerging for Walt, and that is his former business partner Jesse Pinkman, who is angered by the discovery that Walt poisoned the little boy Brock.  Jesse is so angry, that he storms into Walt’s house, and starts pouring gasoline all over the place, presumably to light the house on fire.  I guess we won’t know until next week because that’s when the episode ended.

Several other key themes seemed to emerge from this episode.  Walt has become very good at manipulating people emotionally.  He has done it repeatedly to Jesse, and he even did it to his son, to prevent him from going to visit the Schraders.  The writers of the show also seem to be focused on colors and what they symbolize.  For example, during the meeting between the Whites and Schraders,  Marie wears black to symbolize her mourning for the family she thought she had, while Hank wears purple to atone for upsetting his wife.  In the previous episode, the writers tried to create symbolism by focusing on the colors of Lydia’s shoes.  Speaking of Lydia, her new business partners may be an additional new adversary for Walter.  That is not entirely clear after seeing the opening scene of last night’s episode, but it must have some significance.

The real question moving forward is whether or not Walter would kill Jesse to save himself.  For almost 5 seasons, the show has been built on the emotional relationship between these two.  Now it appears as though it’s ending will be very much revolving around this relationship.  As horrible of a person Walt has transformed into, I still can’t see him killing Jesse.  Walt came very close to getting caught by his brother in law, yet refused to kill him because he was family.  Jesse seems just as important to Walt as Hank is, so I can’t see him killing him, even if it means not saving himself.



Not So Heavenly


August 23rd, 2013

Someone is getting fired in Anaheim very soon.  Now that Angels nightmare season is essentially over, details are emerging about how bad things are in Anaheim.  Success in any organization starts at the top, and the rift at the top of the Halos organization seems about as wide as the Grand Canyon at the moment.

Fox Sports ‘ John Morosi is reporting that there are “philosophical differences” between Angels GM Jerry Dipoto, and skipper Mike Scioscia, and that retaining both of them is “not tenable”.  This would explain owner Arte Moreno’s refusal to comment this week on the futures of both men with his ball club.  It’s also clear that this rift dates well back to last season, when the LA Times reported that Scioscia disagreed with Dipoto’s firing of hitting coach Mickey Hatcher.  A few months later, Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported Scioscia disliked Dipoto’s staff reliance on statistical data.

As I’ve been saying for months now, this rift has been a huge part of the Angels failures on the field.  Jerry Dipoto has constructed a ball club that does not fit Mike Scioscia’s style of baseball  (doesn’t this sound familiar Laker fans?).  Mike Scioscia’s teams have been built on pitching, defense, small ball, and aggressive base running.  Instead, Dipoto has crapped all over Scioscia’s style by torturing numbers, which somehow told him guys like Joe Blanton, Tommy Hansen, and Ryan Madsen will be great pitchers.  Arte Moreno has also screwed up Scioscia ball by impulsively demanding his GM sign aging sluggers Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.  More on Moreno’s screw ups in a moment…..

If the Angels fire Mike Scioscia, they will have to eat the remaining 5 years on his contract, which includes a total of $12 million in 2017 and 2018.    Moreno would probably look foolish for firing Scioscia too, because he would be unemployed for about 5 minutes with his hometown Phillies, and possibly even the Dodgers lining up for his services.  This might off-set the cost of firing him slightly, however, Dipoto is only signed through 2014.  One the other hand, removing Scioscia might allow Moreno to hire a much cheaper skipper.

As for Moreno, this mess starts with him.  Scott Miller of CBS Sports is reporting that in January of 2011, the Angels owner demanded that then general manager Tony Reagins trade for Toronto slugger Vernon Wells in 24 hours, or be fired.  Moreno’s anger was triggered when the Angels were unable to sign Carl Crawford or Adrian Beltre in free agency, which resulted in a disastrous chain of events, including trading slugger Mike Napoli.  The impulsiveness of Moreno did not stop there, which explains the $240 million he gave Pujols, and the $125 million he gave Hamilton.

These decisions not only have resulted in a terrible performance on the field, as the Halos clubhouse has been very dysfunctional.  Miller reported that during a team meeting in August of last season, outfielder Torii Hunter had to be physically retrained from punching Albert Pujols.  This followed two bad losses to the Tampa Bay Rays.  During the loss on August 17th of that season, Jered Weaver was pitching, and he yelled at one of his infielders for being unable to come up with a ground ball.  The next night, when CJ Wilson was on the mound, several players told CBS Sports that they were tired of his chirping in the dugout, including giving advice to hitters.  Hunter even told Wilson to “pipe down” and the two exchanged words.

Following that game, veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins called for a players only meeting.  However, the players couldn’t even agree on the format of the meeting.  Pujols insisted that Scioscia and other management attend the meeting, which other players were against.  During the meeting Pujols called out Weaver for yelling at his teammate one night earlier, and also yelled at Hunter for going at it with Wilson.  Hunter and Wilson had apparently already made amends, which annoyed Hunter, and prompted a confrontation between Hunter and Pujols.  Hunter had to be retrained several times from fighting Pujols at that point.  This might also explain why Hunter is no longer and Angel.

At this point, it’s become clear: Arte Moreno knows business, and he knows money.  He does not know baseball.  He needs to leave the baseball decisions to the baseball people.  Since he began his first full year as owner in 2004, he has fired 40 people, and sources told CBS Sports that he often maintains “a skeletal front office staff”.   Typically when someone is fired, he rarely replaces them, and he’s also reportedly been gouging hours from his low paid employees.

Imagine if the Angels still had Kendry Morales, Jean Segura, and Patrick Corbin?  This organization would probably look a lot different now, and would be headed in a different direction.  The Angels are headed for trouble.  They’ve got two really good young players in Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo, but they might not have the money to retain them in a few years.  The farm system is depleted, and the team has no pitching.  However, if the Halos are going to turn things around, it starts at the top.  Regardless of who this teams GM and Manager are moving forward, Arte needs to re-evaluate his own way of doing things.  Otherwise, this team is going to have some ugly years ahead of them.


Monday Morning Coffee

August 19th, 2013

The Dodgers lost a game?  What do you mean they lost?  They never lose!  I thought they were supposed to go win every game the rest of the season?  Well, I suppose I can forgive them for losing the series finale to the Phillies yesterday by a score of 3-2, even after Hanley Ramirez made 2 errors in the 9th inning,  The Boys in Blue have still won 10 of their last 11 games, are 25-4 since the all-star break, and are a historical 42-9 in their last 51 games.  Do you realize how good this stretch is?  Going into Friday, the Dodgers had more wins in their last 48 games, than the Houston Astros had in their last 118 games!

Even with a 7.5 game lead though, yesterday’s loss did raise a few questions as LA aims for it’s first World Series title since the Jerry Curl was in.  Will Hanley Ramirez’ defense be an issue when it really matters?  Will Yasiel Puig’s aggressive style of play cost the Dodgers in the late stages of a critical game?  It sure did yesterday, as his failure to hit the cut off man led to the Phillies tying up the game.  Will Matt Kemp ever be healthy and effective, and how will he fit in when he returns?  And will the Dodgers bullpen continue to be effective despite a very heavy workload?  For all of these issues, only time will tell, but at this point, Dodger fans should be enjoying the ride.

Meanwhile, Angel fans aren’t enjoying much right now.  I had the misfortune of actually seeing this disaster in person on Friday night at the Big A, which was when the Angels lost their first of two games this weekend to the lowly Astros.  I’m not even sure the Astros are actually trying to win games right now, but it seems like every time these guys come to town, they give the Halos a beating.  Can anyone actually name 3 players on the Astros team?  1/5th of all of their wins this season have come against the Angels.  It’s clear that the Halos have already packed it in, and the hamstring injury to Mike Trout yesterday just pours a little more salt in the wound.

The only question now is what will be the fate of skipper Mike Scioscia and General Manager Jerry Dipoto.  On Friday night, the LA Times tried to get a comment from owner Arte Moreno regarding the job security of both these men, but Arte declined to speak on the topic.  This fact alone makes it clear that a change of some kind is probably coming at season’s end.  Nevertheless, regardless of who the new GM and manager are, turning this club around any time soon will be tough.

How awkward is this A-Rod situation?  Everyone knows the guy is an expensive, lying, cheating, phony, who’s teammates don’t want him around.  Still, he continues to show up to work, and is actually playing pretty well.  Yankees GM Brian Cashman even said yesterday that he isn’t really comfortable talking to A-Rod “because we feel we are in a litigious environment.”  It must suck to show up to work when nobody wants you there, even when you are doing your job well.

It’s that time of year again: fantasy football draft time!  I had my first of 4 drafts yesterday, and as most fantasy football participants know, it’s usually a celebrated event.  At the same time, the annual complaining from women I’ve dated comes hand in hand with this tradition.  “So let me get this straight.  You are spending the next 5 hours putting together a ‘fantasy’ team?  You know how ridiculous that is? You’re going to spend the next 5 months yelling at your phone, getting disappointed, and then yelling at me for no apparent reason!”  It’s true.  How many times do we end up yelling at our loved ones, or even our dogs, when it’s Philip Rivers we should be yelling at?  Then there’s those weekends when you end up yelling at your TV set like a mad man because your team got beat when the Bears defense scored 17 points to come back and beat you.  Then your foreign born neighbors are wondering what the hell you’re screaming about, then you have to actually explain the concept of fantasy football to them.  At that point, your neighbors walk away acting sympathetic towards you, but in the end, they are filing this one away as another reason they made a mistake in moving to this fast declining country.

Yesterday, via Twitter, we found out that Wayne Gretzky’s infamous daughter, Paulina, is now engaged to pro golfer Dustin Johnson.  I think the question most people are wondering is:  does this mean Paulina will stop posting provocative pictures of herself on the internet?  I’m sure the Great One hopes that is the case, while many other guys don’t.

After Usain Bolt helped Jamaica win the 4×100 meter relay yesterday in the world championships, he tied former US sprinter Carl Lewis with his 10th career medal.  Bolt won 3 gold medals this past weekend, also taking the 100 and the 200 meter races.  I hope this guy enjoys his fame while it lasts, because it’s only a matter of time before we find out he is on PED’s.  You can certainly compare pictures of Bolt when he was younger and see how he’s bulked up in a way that could only be achieved through PED’s.  Even more ridiculous are the world record times he’s been running, obliterating previous marks.  The Jamaicans are known to be pretty lax in their drug testing programs, and as someone who ran and coached track and field, I have a hard time believing someone with the lanky build of Bolt could run that fast.

14th IAAF World Athletics Championships Moscow 2013 - Day Nine

Finally, last night’s episode of Breaking Bad continued the wild ride for its fans.  It’s amazing how the last 6 episodes of the series appear to be a showdown amongst family members.  Spoiler alert for those of you who have it on DVR.  That showdown appears to be between Hank Schrader and his wife Marie, who are facing off against her sister Skyler, and the infamous Walter White.  Alliances are forming, which I have a feeling will be setting the stage for a shocking betrayal.  Will Walt kill his own wife Skyler?  Will he kill his brother in law Hank?  It appears not, after Walt immediately shot down his slimy attorney Saul’s idea to kill off his brother in law.  One also has to wonder whether or not Jesse Pinkman and Walt will turn on each other, even after Walt was almost a father figure for Jesse in previous seasons.  Remember though: Walter White has slowly transformed from a nerdy chemistry teacher, into a monstrous criminal master mind.  Along the way, he has blown up a nursing home, poisoned a child, and run over drug dealers in the streets to protect himself.  So when a family member is willing to put him in jail, I believe when push comes to shove, he will do whatever is necessary to protect himself.





Do The Dodgers Have To Trade Somebody?

Ethier swing

August 15th, 2013

In life, there are certain advantages that having more money gives you.  No, I’m not talking about rich Republicans using it to their advantage.  I’m talking about the Dodgers, and the advantage of their $220 million payroll.  LA is currently paying 4 outfielders a total of $55 million this year.  Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, and Yasiel Puig.  Conveniently enough, all 4 have never been healthy enough to play at the same time.  So having 4 quality outfielders hasn’t been a problem……yet.

When Kemp gets healthy in the next two weeks, having this depth will be a luxury.  A perfect example was last night, when Don Mattingly summoned Andre Ethier off his bench to pinch-hit in the bottom of the 9th inning, and Ethier delivered a game tying 2-run homer.  In a few weeks, one of these stud outfielders will be coming off the bench and playing less.  However, if the Dodgers keep winning, everyone will remain happy.

But what about after this season?  Should the Dodgers keep all 4 of these guys or consider trading one?  Puig is already a superstar on a very affordable contract, so he can’t be traded.  Matt Kemp has the most trade value, but he’s only 28, and was playing like an MVP just one year ago.  Carl Crawford is still a useful leadoff hitter for LA, and his contract would be expensive for many other clubs.  Andre Ethier’s numbers have been down this year, and probably wouldn’t return much in a trade.  Why not keep all 4?

Trading the likes of Ethier or Crawford would probably bring back nothing more than an expensive, underachieving, veteran pitcher in return.  That is something the Dodgers don’t need.  What they will need in the winter is a 3rd baseman.  That’s why they need to teach Ethier to play 3rd.  Puig’s arm is to good to move from the outfield.  Kemp is still a gold glove center fielder.  And Crawford is a bit fragile at this stage of his career to play the hot corner.  That leaves Ethier, who has the arm and the athleticism to learn the position in the off-season.

All 4 of these outfielders are getting paid great money for the next several years, so keeping them happy shouldn’t be hard.  As long as the team continues to win, why not give a great lineup a chance to be even greater?  Moving Ethier to 3rd would mean an everyday lineup of Crawford-Puig-Kemp-Ramirez-Gonzales-Ethier, which would be the new “Murderer’s Row”.

When you can afford a $220 million payroll, you can afford to have 4 expensive outfielders.  The Dodgers should make every effort to keep all 4 of them, and give them every opportunity to succeed together.  Ethier at 3rd not only allows all of them to play everyday, but provides great depth and flexibility for the Boys in Blue if one of their outfielders get hurt.  In that case, Ethier could move right back to the outfield.  In the meantime, this situation seems to be working itself out because the Dodgers are rolling,



Monday Morning Coffee


August 12th, 2013

How many more amazing things can I say about the Dodgers?  They looked like they were in for a tough week going up against the Cardinals and Rays, but knocked both of those teams around like Walter White was in the garage last night (more on that shortly).  After sweeping Tampa and taking 3 of 4 from the Cardinals, the Boys in Blue have won 37 of their last 45 games, which means they’ve played .800 baseball for more than a quarter of the season!  They haven’t had a stretch this good since the 50’s, or when most of your mothers were sporting poodle skirts.  What an amazing comeback win on Friday night after being down 6-0.   LA looks like they might even hunt down the Braves for home field advantage in the NL Playoffs, but does it even matter?  They’ve won 17 of their last 18 games on the road.

The amazing thing about the Dodgers run is that it’s coming without Matt Kemp and lately without Hanley Ramirez.  I still think they’ll need both of these guys healthy come October to put them over the top, but sometimes I think Kemp needs to be placed in bubble wrap to avoid injury.  He nearly injured his wrist shagging fly balls yesterday.  Nevertheless, things are only going to get better when LA adds Brian Wilson to their bullpen in the next week, which will only add to their tremendous pitching staff.

As for the Angels, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank former major leaguer and radio host Jack Clark for informing us this past week that Albert Pujols previously took steroids.  Thanks to Jack, this morning, I can write about the Halos and not focus on how much they suck, or how their bullpen is a pile of rally monkey crap for blowing another lead yesterday against the Indians.

Clark proclaimed on his radio show earlier in the week that he knew for a fact Pujols took steroids when he was with the Cardinals.  He claimed that his trainer told him he personally had injected Pujols with PED’s, but after Pujols threatened legal action, Clark was fired by the radio station.  I don’t blame Jack Clark one bit for what he did.  Radio is about ratings, and Clark gave his listeners some very intriguing insight into what he knows about PED’s, whether you agree with it or not.  He did nothing wrong, and if the station is worried about the potential legal action against him, it’s very shortsighted because Pujols has no chance of winning in court.

I don’t know whether or not Albert Pujols used PED’s or not.  However, the reality of it is that it’s not unreasonable to think he did before.  Here’s a guy whose age some of us aren’t entirely sure about, his numbers are in decline, and his body is starting to breakdown.  Sorry Albert, you may be a stand up guy and a great person, but since many of your peers are documented liars and cheaters, we have a right to be suspicious.  If you have a problem with that, then maybe it’s your peers you should be suing.

On to college football, where USC dodged a major bullet over the weekend.  All-American wide receiver Marqise Lee suffered a shoulder injury on Friday, and was seen leaving the practice field wearing a sling.  However, after X-Rays came back negative, it turned out to be just a bone bruise and Lee is listed as day-to-day.  Maybe this injury will make coach Lane Kiffin re-consider using Lee as a first, second, and third option on every play, which he did last season, so his star player doesn’t get run into the ground.

I’m really looking forward to college football starting so I don’t have to hear anything else about Johnny Football.  I’m about ready to throw my television set out of the window if I hear anything else about this kid.  With that being said, he should be suspended by the NCAA for being a selfish moron, and accepting $7,500 for signing memorabilia.  Even though the NCAA rules are more outdated than The Dead Sea Scrolls, players know what the rules are, and know not to break them.  What makes Johnny Manziel even dumber is that he didn’t need the money, and comes from a well to do family.

Speaking of football, I’m excited about the start of the NFL season and all, but some people can’t even keep it in their pants during the preseason.  I walked into the office this week and my co-workers had already created an office pool for preseason football games.  Nothing like betting on a bunch of guys who will probably not even make it in the NFL.  Even better was my co-workers analysis of the Chargers for the one offensive drive that the starters played on Thursday night.  “Did you see Philip Rivers last night?  He’s going to be the best quarterback in the league this year!  He looked amazing on those three passes he threw!  He’s a changed man!”  Chill out for a couple of more weeks guys.

Friday marked the 25th anniversary of the Wayne Gretzky trade to the Los Angeles Kings.  This is usually a day of great self-reflection for me because Gretzky was my inspiration growing up, which not only resulted in me loving hockey, but loving sports.  As for the trade, I think it’s fair to say that both the Oilers and the Kings benefited a great deal from it.  The Oilers went on to win the Stanley Cup just two years later, while Gretzky created a new generation of hockey fans in non-traditional hockey cities, despite not winning a Stanley Cup in his 8 years in LA.  If anything, I think the NHL got the best of that trade.

NBC recently announced that Jay Leno will be retiring in February of 2014, and Jimmy Fallon will be taking over the Tonight Show at that point.  Wait a second, I’ve seen this movie before, and it ended when Leno stole back his late night show from Conan O’Brien a few years ago.  Leno is still the #1 late night talk show host, and I can’t imagine that he will be leaving television in just 6 months from now.  Fox could bring in Leno for a late night show, and that’s bad news for Fallon.  Not only would he have to replace a legend, but he would have to compete with him as well!

I can’t believe that SyFy’s Sharknado was actually shown in theaters in the past week.  This just goes to show you how badly things are going at the box office these days.  The mockbuster had a special midnight showing in 200 theaters across the nation and was sold out.  Even more amazing is the fact that the Sharknado sequel, which is coming out in 2014, will simply be called “The Second One”.  That has to be the movie equivalent of referring to yourself in the third person.

And finally, the season premier of Breaking Bad last night was phenomenal.  Spoiler alert coming for those of you who have it on DVR, but just when you think the show that could have ended, it finds a way to keep rolling.  I expected these final 8 episodes to start moving at the pace of a crawl and then end the series in explosive fashion.  Instead, the writers of the show created an incredible showdown at the end of the episode between Walter White (played by Brian Cranston) and his brother in law Hank Schrader (played by Dean Norris).  Hank punches Walter in the face in his own garage after confronting him about his transformation into criminal mastermind “Heisenberg”.  The show comes to a chilling close when Hank says “I don’t even know who I’m talking to”, and Walt replies “maybe your best course would be to tread lightly”.  This is just another example of how the show has done an amazing job developing a character who has transformed from a nerdy science teacher, into a brilliant criminal monster.  There are still many questions to be answered in the final 7 episodes, such as what Walt will do with the poisonous ricin vial he has, and why he has a machine gun.  The next 7 weeks should be some great TV.






Over Before It Starts

Pau shock

August 6th, 2013

When we look back at the 2013-2014 NBA season for the Lakers, and we try to remember when their season was over, the answer will emphatically be when the schedule came out.  The NBA released the schedule for the upcoming season, and it’s practically a mine field for the Lake Show.

LA opens the season on Tuesday, October 29th against the Clippers, followed by a trip to face the Warriors in Oakland the following night.  That will be the first set of 19 back-to-back games for the purple and gold.  To make matters worse, the Spurs will be rolling into Staples Center on Friday, November 1st, so the Lakers could easily be 0-3.

If you think the beginning is bad, wait until you hear about March and April.  Over an 8 day stretch in March, the Lakers will play the Clippers, Denver Oklahoma City twice, and San Antonio twice!  That’s a beat down down in a dark ally just waiting to happen.  Oh yea….and 5 of their last 6 games of the season are against playoff teams from last year, including a trip to San Antonio to finish the regular season.

Some of the other highlights (or maybe low-lights?) on the schedule include a trip to Houston on Thursday November 7th, where they’ll face former Laker Dwight Howard for the first time since his departure.  Howard and the Rockets will visit Staples Center for the first time on Wednesday February 19th.  I expect the boo birds to be in full effect for Dwight.

Then there’s also the annual Christmas day game, where this year, the Lakers will host the 2-time defending NBA Champion Miami Heat at Staples.  This year’s grammy trip will run from January 15th to January 26th, which will feature visits to Phoenix, Boston, Toronto, Chicago, Miami, Orlando, and New York.

I guess David Stern is so excited to see the Lakers get crushed this year that he will be putting them on national TV 29 times, which is more than any other team.  The real question though is if the team gets off to a rough start, will Mike D’Antoni be fired before the season ends?  Laker fans can only hope.


Monday Morning Coffee

Hanley DP

August 5th, 2013

The Dodgers cannot be stopped.  They’ve won a franchise record 14 straight games on the road, and the last time that was done, Michael Jackson was black and the Republicans actually had a good president.   Since June 22nd, the Boys in Blue have won 31 of 38 games, and are a sizzling 14-2 since the all-star break.  What’s even more impressive is LA’s pitching staff, which hasn’t surrendered a run in the last 23 innings.  They have 6 starting pitchers that are throwing well, and they’ve helped the Dodgers open up a 5.5 game lead over Arizona in the NL West.

After this past weekends’ 4 game sweep over the Cubs, it appears the only thing that could derail the Dodgers are injuries.  Hanley Ramirez injured his right shoulder while diving into the crowd for a foul ball, and was seen leaving Wrigley Field with his arm in a sling.  The good news is that the injury was not to his left shoulder, which was the shoulder that he had surgery on previously.  He’ll be re-evaluated Monday.  Meanwhile, Yasiel Puig sat out yesterday’s game after injuring his thumb trying to be superman again the day before.   LA is hopeful Puig will be back in the lineup on Monday, and they’ll need him for a big week against the Cardinals followed by the Rays.

Well, then there’s lowly Angels.  Even though they took 3 of 4 from terrible Toronto, the Halos bullpen blew another game in the late innings yesterday.  That’s 4 times this week! It’s pretty hard for me to envision how this team is going to improve beyond this season.  There’s very few impact starting pitchers available on the free agent market this coming winter, and the Angels don’t have much money to spend because they blew their loads on Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.  Since those two guys are under contract for the next century or so, the Halos will have a big challenge trying to afford the $300 million contract that Mike Trout will have to sign then.

Meanwhile, Major League Baseball is about to lay the hammer down on Yankees 3rd baseman Alex Rodriguez, who is linked to the Biogenesis performance enhancing drug scandal.  Sources say A-Rod will likely be suspended for the remainder of this season, as well as the entire 2014 season, which may end the 38 year old’s career.   I don’t have any sympathy for this guy after essentially getting caught not once, but twice, doing PED’s since baseball banned them.  I also have to give credit to commissioner Bud Selig, who for years has been known as one of the dumbest commissioners in sports, but is now stepping up his efforts to do the right thing and clean up the game.   I expect more drastic drug testing measures to be enforced in the MLB if they are serious about getting the cheaters out of their game.

Anybody that reads the LA Times sports section has to be wondering: Where has TJ Simers gone?  Simers has not written a column in 6 weeks, and the paper has not mentioned that he is on vacation under his columns, which is usually their protocol.   It now appears he may be let go this week.  Sports blogger Larry Brown reported last week that Simers’ boss at the LA Times is unhappy that he is doing work with Mandalay Sports Entertainment, most recently, a short video of his daughter participating in a free throw contest against Dwight Howard.    Simers is reportedly interested in launching a reality TV show about his family, in partnership with MSE, and this also isn’t sitting well with the big guys at the LA Times.  Love him or hate him, Simers is one of the most entertaining sports journalists in Southern California, and it would be a mistake for the paper to let him go.  Who else is going to badger Southern California athletes and coaches during post game press conferences?  Another quality columnist will depart, and the LA Times will move closer to their demise.  Here’s a look at his recent video….

Trying to choose a cable provider these days is like being forced to choose between a handful of drunk and ugly women at a bar.  Since Time Warner is in a dispute with CBS, that means if you are in Southern California, you aren’t receiving CBS, KCAL, or Showtime.  If you go with Direc TV, you’ll be forced to live without the Pac-12 Network, which is tough with college football coming up.  Dish Network has virtually no sports packages or channels, U-Verse doesn’t even have the NHL Network, and Cox just punishes customers with their prices.  Wait until the Dodgers launch their new channel on Time Warner in 2014, and then shit will really hit the fan.  These cable companies need to start offering their channels a la carte instead of packaging them with expensive other useless content.

Speaking of TV, Shark Week is airing on the Discovery Channel this week and it’s awesome!  I think at this point, Discovery should just give us Shark month.  I must say though, in recent years I’ve been a little disappointed in the amount of sensationalization that has gone on during the week, with many programs on shark attacks, and people who have told devastating stories about their limbs being torn off.    I’m terrified enough of Sharks, and don’t need to hear about this kind of stuff.  If anything, I want to hear more about what we’ve learned about these animals in recent years, which is incredibly fascinating.  I like what I saw last night, and watching scientists theorize about the estimated 60 foot Megaladon Shark was riveting.  Even better was watching video clips of mysterious attacks of fishing boats, which was like watching the Blair Witch Project on a boat.  Here’s a good Shark Week drinking games for you:

Shark Week Drinking

These are definitely the dog days of summer when it comes to sports stories.  That couldn’t have been more evident this week when Saints Quarterback Drew Brees was criticized by a celebrity gossip website for leaving only a $3 tip at a restaurant for a takeout order.  With that being said…..$3 for a takeout tip?  As far as I’m concerned, you’re lucky if you get a $1 from me as a tip on a takeout order.   Also, I love how restaurants and servers take the liberty adding in gratuity of 18-20%, and some insist that “20% is the minimum” one should be leaving.  Nice try.  Gratuity is simply predicated on performance.  If you did a good job, you’ll get rewarded.  If you didn’t, you’ll get little or nothing.  As for Brees, he’s one of the most stand up guys you will ever meet, and is the furthest thing from cheap.

Finally, I don’t understand all the hype about Sprinkles Ice Cream in Newport Beach.  For those of you unfamiliar, Sprinkles is an ice cream and cup cake place that’s been around for a while in Beverly Hills, but recently opened up in Newport.  People have been so excited about it, that they’ve been waiting 3 to 4 hours in line to get their ice cream!  I decided to go last week on a Monday night, and the wait was “only” 20 minutes.  Let’s just say I want my 20 minutes back.  Here’s what the line usually looks like: