Monthly Archives: December 2013

Monday Morning Coffee

Wiggins Laker Fan

December 30th, 2013

This was supposed to be an “easy stretch” for the Lakers.  Instead, they’ve lost 5 straight, including a loss at home to the lowly 76ers.  Philly had lost 13 straight games on the road, and is the worst defensive team in the NBA.  Sorry D’Antoni, but when you’re losing games to Utah and Philadelphia, injuries are no excuse.  It’s about effort.  How come when the Lakers were over .500 before Kobe came back, nobody used the injury excuse?  D’Antoni’s coaching decisions are completely bizarre.  Anyone with half a brain knows that Jordan Hill is currently the Lakers best healthy big man on the team right now, yet Mike D’Antoni only plays him 27 minutes.  Shawne Williams can’t do anything except shoot three pointers, and for some reason D’Antoni has a man crush on him.  The Lakers are sinking closer to the bottom of the West, but the fate of their coach will give us a real indication of where this franchise is headed.

This was a tough week for the Clippers.  They managed to escape with wins at home against the T-Wolves and Jazz, but they lost two important road games at Golden State and Portland.  Some of you may think it’s no big deal because NBA Championships aren’t won in December.   You may think it’s no big deal because Blake Griffin put up monster numbers.  However, the issues are still the same as they were one year ago.  The Clipps still struggle to finish close games because Chris Paul is their only reliable option.  They still struggle in the half court offense, and as good as Blake Griffin looks at times, he can be so much better.  All of these issues were exposed in critical moments last week, and there’s little reason to believe they won’t be exposed again come playoff time.

ESPN is reporting that Cleveland Cavaliers center, and former Laker, Andrew Bynum, is suspended indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team.  It’s also been reported that Bynum’s suspension will continue, but he will be on “paid leave”.  I’m trying to act surprised here but I just can’t.  I’m pretty sure that Bynum has been on “paid leave” for his entire career, and he’s probably loving this situation.  The guy doesn’t even like basketball, and at this point, has no desire to rehab his knees and get himself in shape.  It’s amazing that Phil Jackson got this to compete and even help the Lakers win two titles.  This feels very typical of America doesn’t it? Someone won’t work for you, and you still have to pay them!

Speaking of being an idiot, Yasiel Puig is at it again.  On Saturday night, Puig was arrested and charged with reckless driving for the 2nd time this year.  He was driving 110 mph in a 70 mph zone in South Florida.  There really isn’t a whole lot the Dodgers can do here.  He’s arguably their most important player, and they can’t trade him.  He’s simply a loose cannon, who needs to grow up fast, or else his career will implode.  This is exactly why the Dodgers need to hang on to all four of their outfielders, which will protect them from another Puig implosion.

That was some gruesome UFC fight on Saturday night.  Chris Weidman successfully defended his title against Anderson Silva, but the story was the fight ending in horrific fashion with Silva breaking his leg.  This was even more gruesome than the Kevin Ware injury in last year’s NCAA Tournament.  I’m no UFC expert, but I can say that into two fights against Silva, Weidman has looked like the far better fighter.  This sport is absolutely brutal.  A few years ago a friend of mine took me to an MMA fight to see his cousins’s professional debut.  It was over in 30 seconds when he split his chin open after taking a punch and falling to the ground.  It’s tough to stomach sometimes.  Seeing the women’s UFC is even more brutal.  It’s the only sports where the competitors are bleeding before the competition even begins!

Silva yelling

On to the NFL, where we had some finish to the regular season yesterday.  It would have been so typical of the Chargers to blow that game yesterday against the Chiefs 2nd stringers, but somehow, they pulled it out.  The Chargers slipped into the playoffs, while the Dolphins and Ravens blew it.  Speaking of blowing it, for the third year in a row, the Cowboys lost the division on the final day of the season, and Kyle Orton did his best Tony Romo impression by throwing a pick late in the 4th quarter.  It took 3.5 quarters, but that final Packers drive made me think that Aaron Rodgers may really be the best player in the NFL.  I thought it was really unfair for the NFL to give the Broncos an extra bye week before the playoffs even started.  This Raider fan isn’t doing too much better than the guys running the organization….

Raider Fan

I think Philip Rivers probably threw the worst block of all time yesterday…..

Phil Rivers terrible block

And here’s a good reference guide for Cowboys fans…..

Cowboys Flow Chart


Monday Morning Coffee

Trade Everyone Kobe

December 23rd, 2013

Great job Jimmy Buss!  The ink isn’t even dry on Kobe’s two year contract extension, and he’s hurt again.  Maybe Jimmy boy will give Kobe another two year extension when he returns from his latest injury.  Look, I love Kobe, but this is exactly why you don’t give a 35 year old, coming off a torn achilles, a $48 million extension.  Kobe says this injury may actually give him a chance to get even stronger, but the only thing that is really getting stronger are the Lakers lottery chances.  There’s no doubt Kobe’s work ethic is as strong as ever, but there’s only so much his body can take after 18 years in the league.  At least now with Kobe out, the Lakers can tank without actually trying to tank.  Even Magic Johnson told CBS’s Jim Hill earlier this week that Kobe should sit out the season so the Lakers can get a high lottery pick, like the Spurs did in 1998, when they drafted Tim Duncan.

Now the Lakers have the excuse they need to trade Pau Gasol.  A Gasol trade may not bring back equal value in talent, but shedding his $19 million salary will get the Lakers under the dreaded luxury tax, and possibly even allow them to get back a future first round pick.  Do you realize that Steve Nash cost the Lakers 3 1st round picks?  Two in the trade with Phoenix, and one they gave up in the Ramon Sessions trade.  You do remember Steve Nash right?  You know….that point guard that’s older than a fossilized dinosaur, who will be making $9 million this year and next.  Getting rid of these guys is the first step toward rebuilding the Lakers.  But even if they do, does anybody believe LA will get back to winning titles with Jim Buss in charge?  In 1999, Charles Dolan put his moronic son, James Dolan in charge of running the New York Knicks, and since then we’ve all had some good laughs.  It’s scary to think that history might be repeating itself in LA.

Speaking of the Knicks, interesting rumors are floating around Clipper Nation.  Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Reports recently wrote an article discussing a possible Blake Griffin for Carmelo Anthony blockbuster trade between the Knicks and Clippers.  Last week, I suggested that the Clippers may have peaked with this group, and might need to look at a big trade to become the elite team they hope to be.  This isn’t exactly what I had in mind though.  It’s no secret that CP3 and ‘Melo would love to play with each other, but this would make the Clipps much older, and far worse defensively. The Knicks would have a star to build around for the future, and the dumbest owner in sports would have bamboozled the cheapest owner.  It’s sounds crazy, but it’s crazy enough for Sterling to do it.

The Clippers pulled out a wild win last night at Staples against Minnesota.  I still can’t figure out what’s up with the T-Wolves this year.  They got off to this great start, then they slipped to 11th in the West, and Ricky Rubio is afraid to shoot because he’s struggling.  Still a great game last night at Staples, and an epic battle between Kevin Love and Blake Griffin, as neither guy seemed to be able to guard the other.  The Clipps won the game, but when it was over,  it still felt like Love was the more polished player, while Griffin was only a more entertaining player.

On to college football, where the Trojans wrapped up their season on a positive note, with a win against Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl.  SC wasn’t exactly facing a powerhouse opponent, but they could have easily mailed it in, like they did in the Sun Bowl last season.  That does say a lot about the character of the graduating seniors and upperclassmen headed to the NFL, especially when they had to work with their third coach of the season, Clay Helton.  I’m sure that wasn’t awkward or anything.  Speaking of coaching, just a couple of weeks into the Steve Sarkisian era, and Trojan fans are already shaking their heads about recruiting violations that may have occurred under Sark’s watch at UW.  Now Sark has to beg Ed Orgeron to come back to SC to be a part of his staff, however, Orgeron might tell him to suck it, since he took the job he wanted.  That “gut feeling” Pat Haden had when he hired Sark, is probably more like a throbbing pain right now.

On to some college basketball, where the Bruins are who we thought they were.  UCLA put up a good fight against #8 Duke on Thursday night, but ended up getting pounded in the end.  Last night they continued to beat up on the little guys, taking down Weber State  in another blowout.  Who do the Bruins play next?  San Diego Christian Academy? Steve Alford is starting to feel like the Mike D’Antoni of Westwood.  Up tempo offense, no defense, great regular season, no post season success.  The Bruins could get exposed badly next month when conference play rolls around.

Let’s go to the ice, where Kings rookie goaltender Martin Jones is tearing it up.  Jones has won his first 8 starts in spectacular fashion, tying an NHL record.  I’m not one of those people crazy enough to think the Kings need to trade Jonathan Quick after 8 good games from Jones, but he has given the Kings some tough decisions to make when Quick gets healthy.  They’ll have to decide whether to send Jones back to the minors, or keep him as the backup and send Ben Scrivens to the minors.  Scrivens has to be wondering what it takes for him to play again, since he was leading the NHL in save % before Jones started playing.  Interestingly enough, Martin Jones now has a whole bunch of teammates following him on Twitter.  Ben Scrivens isn’t one.  By the way, Dwight King made maybe the creepiest face I’ve ever seen after he scored on Thursday night…..

Dwight King Creepy

Speaking of rookie goaltenders, the Ducks have a rookie goalie of their own who hasn’t been too bad either.  Frederik Anderson has done a commendable job filling in for injured backup Victor Fasth, and he’s won 9 of his first 10 starts.  He is just the third goaltender in NHL history to do so.  Anaheim has won 8 straight games, and coach Bruce Boudreau will make his return to Washington tonight, when the Ducks take on the Caps.

Week 16 of the NFL was a wild one.  How did the Lions manage to blow the division when they only had to beat the Giants at home?  Nice showing by the Bears defense last night.  I think the Eagles just scored again.  The Chargers are still alive for the playoffs….but barely.  The Seahawks don’t look so invincible anymore after yesterday’s loss at home, but they still may not have to leave Seattle until the Super Bowl if they clinch home field next week.  I can’t wait to see how the Cowboys will blow the division title for the third year in a row next week on Sunday night football.  I’m still not really sure how the Ravens managed to give up 41 points at home to the banged up Patriots, but I loved how Tom Brady was left hanging on this high five…..

Brady left hanging

I never want to hear the phrase, “they control their own destiny.”  Hello?  It’s “destiny”.  You can’t control destiny, because it’s your destiny!  My head hurts after looking at all the AFC playoff scenarios for next week.  Take two aspirin after reading…..

AFC playoff Scenarios






Monday Morning Coffee



December 16th, 2013

So you actually thought for just a second, with Kobe getting back in the lineup, the Lakers were suddenly going to be an elite team didn’t you?  You forgot didn’t you?  You forgot that the pieces just don’t fit together.  You forgot that the Lakers two best players don’t fit the coaches game plan.  You forgot that this team can’t really defend.  You forgot that they just don’t have the talent.  A disappointing loss to Phoenix at home, and a beat down in Oklahoma brought all of these realities back into focus.  Saturday’s win against Charlotte made us feel like Kobe is getting healthier, but that’s not enough to overcome the sad realities of Laker basketball these days.  Kobe never publicly complains about D’Antoni, because he knows as the leader, he has to be accountable.  The same can’t be said for Pau Gasol, who’s been alienated more than anyone else in D’Antoni’s system.

Now that Pau is complaining about D’Antoni again, the Lakers have considered trading him again in the last few days.  I’m sure it won’t take long for Mitch Kupchak to realize he’s not going to get much for him.  Unless opposing general manager’s are drinking on the job, LA won’t be acquiring Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, or even Rajon Rondo in a trade for Gasol.  Pau may be in decline, but he can still be an effective big man when operating in the post.  The Lakers have demolished his trade value the last 3 years, by pushing him further and further away from the basket.  Sources say LA is even interested in re-signing him for a reduced rate, but you think Pau wants to stick around to play for D’Antoni?  He’s probably looking at teaming up with his brother Marc in Memphis next season.  The Lakers are broken, their fans are depressed, and it’s going to take more than one move to put the team back in championship contention.  If you ask Mike D’Antoni he’ll get defensive, and that would be the first time.

Oh yea….then there’s the Clippers.  A solid team, but still a mere afterthought in everyones mind.  Great teams are better than .500 on the road, and know how to lock you up defensively, which the Clippers aren’t.  Is this really as good as it gets with the great Doc Rivers as their coach?  When you watch this team, you would expect them to get better and better with every game they play.  Instead, they simply look like they have reached their ceiling.  If the Clipps were serious about contending, they might even consider making a big trade before everyone else realizes this is as good as Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan will ever be.

Let’s talk baseball, where we found out just how desperate the Angels were this week.  The Halos traded 27 year old slugger Mark Trumbo, for pitchers Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs.  We can all agree that the Angels badly needed pitching, and didn’t have a whole lot of money to get it, so they had to give up something of value.  However, did they really get enough value in return for a guy that hits 30 homers and drives in 100 runs? Santiago was just 4-9 with an ERA of 3.56 in his first full season as a starter.  Skaggs has an ERA over 5.00 in 13 career starts.  I’m sure all those baseball super stat nerds who defend the trade will bring up Trumbo’s declining on base percentage, but that doesn’t excuse not getting his full value in return.  If the Halos decided to trade Trumbo to Arizona a few months ago, they could have had Ian Kennedy, who has won 20 games before, and their rotation would be in much better shape.  Maybe Arte Moreno has given up on helping his own team, and resorted to sabotaging the Dodgers by sending Trumbo the NL West?

Speaking of the Dodgers, good thing they re-signed Juan Uribe because they had no other options at 3rd base next year.  Now The Blue Crew won’t have make a silly trade with one of their 4 outfielders to fill that hole.  I’m sure Matt Kemp was relieved when his agent was told by Ned Colletti that he wasn’t going to be traded.  Kemp has clearly pissed off somebody in the Dodgers front office with his recent behavior, because LA has seemed so determined to trade him for the last few weeks, regardless of what they were getting in return.  Maybe it’s because they found out he could be dating Khloe Kardashian, which increases the likelihood of his career going to hell?  The last time Kemp’s attitude was questioned, he responded with a career season.  Hopefully the same happens this time.  Then again, Rhianna had herpes which literally had to have lit a fire in his pants to get him going.  Kemp may be dating the wrong Kardashian if that’s going to happen again.

It’s looking more and more like USC jumped the gun, and hired their head football coach a week too soon.  No, I’m not talking about Chris Peterson.  I’m talking about Mack Brown.  Trojan fans were insisting on having a big name on their sidelines.  Is there a name bigger than Mack Brown out there right now?  I think not.  His last few years at Texas may not have been the greatest, but he’s won a national title, and a fresh start at USC would have energized him and the Trojan fan base.  It’s hard not to think that Pat Haden is having buyers remorse.

The Kings were rolling.  Until they ran into the Chicago Blackhawks.  Once again, the Hawks completely took the Kings out of their game, and dictated the tempo in last nights 3-1 victory in the windy city, which snapped LA’s 6 game win streak.  The game felt like it was straight out of a time machine from last seasons Western Conference finals.  The Kings just can’t seem to neutralize the Hawks speed, and they continually get forced into making turnovers, while giving up outnumbered attacks against them.  The Kings were the top defensive team in the league going into last night’s game, and I don’t recall them giving up an outnumbered attack for weeks, until they ran into the Hawks.  If the Kings are going to make another run for the Cup, they’ll likely have to go through Chicago to make it happen.

The irony of it is, even though the Kings seem to knock the Ducks around, the Ducks probably stand a better chance of beating the Hawks in a 7 game series.  Anaheim made it 5 in a row last night, with a 3-2 win over the Oilers.  The Ducks are practically unbeatable at home, with a record of 13-0-2, and their style of play matches up far better with the speedy Hawks in a playoff series.  However, home ice didn’t mean much for Anaheim last year when they got beat by the Red Wings in game 7 at the Honda Center, in round 1.  The Ducks are looking elite in December, but there remain questions about their toughness and grit come playoff time.

Week 15 of the NFL was the week of let downs.  The Pats blew an opportunity to clinch the division and move closer to taking home field.  The Saints blew a chance to clinch a playoff spot, and may not even win the division anymore.  The Broncos may have blown home field advantage by losing to the Chargers.  The Cowboys blew it against the Packers, but it’s December, and they usually choke around this time.  Knowing the Chargers, they’ll probably lose at home to the Raiders next week, after coming up huge in Denver.

Speaking of the NFL, and more specifically, old-time players, Jim Brown’s comments about Kobe Bryant this week were extremely shortsighted.  Look, I get it.  Jim Brown was playing football in an era where terrible things happened to African Americans in the United States.  However, he’s basically saying that Kobe isn’t black enough because he grew up in Italy.  In Brown’s mind, that means Kobe wouldn’t be recognized as a leader in the black community.  Keep in  mind that Brown was also very critical of Michael Jordan, and other black athletes for not being involved enough in their community.  Brown reminds of my 80 year old uncle, whose views on race you just have to dismiss, since he is simply a product of his generation. Props to Kobe for realizing this fact, and also not shying away from the the conversation about race, which many athletes do.

Florida State Quarterback Jameis Winston won the Heisman Trophy over the weekend, but there is certainly a cloud that will remain over the freshman quarterback.  Winston is most deserving of the trophy, but the recent rape allegations against him by a woman have him guilty in the court of public opinion.  Winston was cleared of any criminal wrong doing, but nobody knows for sure whether this allegation is real or bogus.  In any case, this incident will forever cast doubt on the character of both Winston, and the woman who accused him of the crime.

Finally, the season finale of Homeland was last night on Showtime.  Spoiler alert for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, and have it on DVR.  This episode ended without any cliff hangers, and was wrapped up nicely with a bow on top.  It almost felt like it could have been the series finale, because I’m unsure where the show goes from here.  I was shocked that Brody was killed off, and I was a little bit disappointed because his character, along with his interaction with Carrie made the show fantastic.   Despite an intriguing ending to season 3, overall, this season was a rocky one.  Brody’s family was just too damn annoying, and didn’t really fit into the show anymore without him playing a major role.  Heck, if they were going to kill Brody off, why did they focus half of the season on his family?  The focus of the show should remain on terrorism and national security, because that’s what Homeland viewers want to see.  So now what?  Does Carrie have the baby and become a mother while remaining in the CIA?  Does Saul return to the CIA?  Then again, is Brody really dead?  It’s hard to see how they can make the show as exciting as the first two seasons, but we’ll see where it goes next fall.




Monday Morning Coffee

Kobe vs Raptors 1

December 9th, 2013

That didn’t exactly go as planned.  Kobe Bryant finally made his return to the lineup last night, after  recovering from a torn achilles tendon.  The return didn’t go as planned.  Kobe looked rustier than an old nail in my garage, and the Lakers got beat by the shorthanded Raptors on their home floor.  Yes, I realize it’s only his first game back, so I won’t make too big of a deal out of his 25% shooting and 8 turnovers.  However, where was the energy level from his teammates?  Why does it seem like superstars can’t play effectively in Mike D’Antoni’s dumb ass system?  If I didn’t know better, after watching Kobe’s Facebook video announcing his return, I would have thought Jesus Christ was going to be making his return to the Lakers.  Too bad, because I hear Jesus has some great handles, and the Lakers could really use a point guard right about now.

Then there’s the Clippers, who just make you wonder.  You wonder, why haven’t they become better defensively under Doc Rivers?  You wonder, why  Blake Griffin hasn’t come the next Karl Malone?  You wonder, why their bench is more inconsistent than Katy Perry’s hair color?  The Clipps have lost 3 of their last 4, and Rivers called out the team for pouting when things weren’t going their way the other night in Cleveland.  It’s hard to watch this team and think they are any better than last year’s team, which has to make Donald Sterling’s head explode.  It’s early, but a team performing poorly on the road, atrociously on defensive, and inconsistently off the bench does not represent an elite team.

On to college football, where both USC and UCLA made some serious headlines on the coaching front this past week.  The Trojans hired Washington coach Steve Sarkisian to be their new head, which has most Trojans fans ready to jump off the Santa Monica pier.  Let’s be honest, this was the best coach USC could find.  Every Trojan fan fantasized about unrealistic names like Nick Saban, Jon Gruden, and Mack Brown.  Although USC can be criticized for obsessively trying to recreate the Pete Caroll era, Sark knows how to recruit in the SoCal, and he’ll have far better resources at his disposal with the Trojans than he did at UW.  It will likely be a tough next year for SC with many of their upperclassmen leaving, but with the scholarship ban lifted the following year, the Trojans may not be down for too long.

As for the Bruin football program, they can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that Jim Mora Jr. agreed to an extension, and will not be leaving for the vacated Washington job.  Had Mora left, it likely would have meant Brett Hundley would have bolted for the NFL, and the UCLA football team would have instantly been bombed back to the stone age next season.  Mora’s new contract was announced, along with the opening of a new football facility on campus.  I still don’t understand why, after all these years, the Bruins haven’t figured out a way to put a football stadium on campus, or at least in Westwood?  It’s no wonder all of the previous coaches have complained about this, as it’s definitely prevented the Bruins from building a consistent winning program.

Speaking of UCLA, their basketball team is exactly who we thought they were!  They actually played real competition on Saturday morning, at Missouri, and they lost 80-71.  It’s hilarious how many UCLA basketball fans are in complete denial that the season has even started, because they are so disgusted with the state of the program.  It’s obvious what most Bruin fans were thinking this week:  Yes!  Mora is staying…..crap….so is Steve Alford.

I don’t know how many times I have to yell about it here on Jock Talk LA, but I’m going to say it one more time, so hopefully Dodgers GM Ned Colletti can hear me:  DO NOT TRADE MATT KEMP, OR ANY OF YOUR 4 OUTFIELDERS!  Kemp doesn’t want to be traded, and his agent, Dave Stewart, says that he is very nervous something could happen this week at the Winter Meetings.  On one hand, Colletti told the LA Times that he can’t just give up an outfielder because the free agent market in the coming years is weak.  However, he also said, he wouldn’t mind giving up an outfielder, if it means strengthening the farm system.  So what’s it going to be Ned?  Why give up any of these outfielders when you have to pay a significant portion of their salary anyway, and you’re getting .50 cents on the dollar back?  Bringing back Brian Wilson was a good move, but LA needs to keep the team together and give them a chance to make it to the World Series. They nearly did last year, with an unhealthy team.

I still can’t seem to figure out how the Angels are going to improve their team.  They don’t have the money to go get any real pitching, and they don’t want to give up Trumbo, Kendrick, or Aybar anymore.  So where does that leave them?  With the same damn team as last year.  At least they weren’t dumb enough to spend $240 million for the next 10 years on Robinson Cano like the Mariners.  They were dumb enough to do that two years ago with Albert Pujols.

Let’s go to the ice.  Most of the Kings fans probably don’t remember this, or just choose to block it out, but for years the Kings had been a team with terrible goaltending.  I was absolutely amazed to see the job rookie goaltender Martin Jones did against the Ducks, followed by a shutout against the Islanders.  It feels like just yesterday, the Kings were saddled with the likes of Dan Cloutier and Roman Cechmanek, who couldn’t even stop a beach ball from getting by them.  Whenever Jonathan Quick gets healthy, the Kings should now feel comfortable giving him regular rest, knowing that there are two capable goaltenders behind him.

Week 14 of the NFL Season may have been a death blow to the New England Patriots.  The Pats fear that Rob Gronkowski may be lost with a torn ACL, which probably just handed the Broncos a bye all the way to the Super Bowl.  Seeing so many of this week’s games played in the snow was pretty cool, but I still think a cold weather Super Bowl is a terrible idea.  Part of the novelty of playing in the Super Bowl, and even for fans going, is to go to a warm weather city.  Apologies to all those people that live in New York, Philly, and all those other cold ass cities.  You just shouldn’t be hosting Super Bowls, unless your stadium has a roof.

Lastly, the USA really got screwed when the World Cup group’s were announced this week.  Ghana, Portugal, and Germany all in our group?  The oddsmakers say the US has just a 39% chance of advancing out of pool play.  So much for my interest in soccer every 4 years.  Remember, we lost to Ghana in the last World Cup, and now they are in our group in 2014.  I feel really bad for this US soccer fan, who nearly lost his mind after the last World Cup…..





Monday Morning Coffee


December 2nd, 2013

The last time it happened, I was in high school.  No, I’m not talking about the last time I went to Prom.  I’m talking about the last time the Bruins beat the Trojans in the Coliseum.  Well, up until Saturday night, when UCLA took down their cross town rivals, the USC Trojans, 35-14, for their first win at the Coliseum since 1997.  The win was also the Bruins second straight over the Trojans.  Brett Hundley simply could not be contained.  He passed for 208 yards, while rushing for 80 more, to go along with 2 touchdowns.  Imagine if the Bruins offense was in this kind of rhythm against Stanford or ASU?  They would probably still have a chance to make it to the Rose Bowl.  It always feels good for the Bruins and their fans to beat the Trojans.  But the performance Bruin fans saw on Saturday night is a little bittersweet, knowing they a good football team, but not elite.  If Brett Hundley returns next season, UCLA will have a chance to once again, prove they can hang with the big boys.  Next time, their fans won’t settle for being close to great.

As for USC, the fact this team ended up 9-4 was simply miraculous.  Any Trojan fan who thought they would be better than that this year has had one too many drinks at The Nine-O.  Pat Haden was smart enough to promote Ed Orgeron as interim coach, who inspired confidence in his quarterback, and energized his players.  However, he’s also smart enough to know that Orgeron is not the long term answer.  The notion that Orgeron was going to get the job based on beating UCLA was as ridiculous as that Trojan Horse galloping around the Coliseum.  He did a respectable job, but if he’s hired, it’s simply because the Trojans couldn’t get who they wanted, or they are looking for another coach to keep things competitive until all of the sanctions are over in 2015.

The rest of the weekend in college football was very exciting.  What was Brady Hoke thinking going for the 2 point conversion to try and beat Ohio State instead of forcing overtime?  Hoke said it was his players that wanted to go for it.  If that’s the case, then what are they paying him $3 million a year for?  The Auburn and Alabama finish was one of the most exciting I’ve ever seen in a college football game.  Then there was another pathetic performance by Notre Dame’s Tommy Rees against Stanford.  The Irish had a chance for the upset, but Rees had more turnovers than Betty Crocker, and the Irish had to settle for a mediocre 8-4 season.  The only thing more pathetic was the showing by Stanford students, or lack thereof for a team that was top 10 in the country.  Take a look at the lower corner of the stadium.  Thanks to my fellow Domers for sharing.

Stanford Section Empty

Is anybody excited about the UCLA Basketball team’s 7-0 start?  Well considering not many people seem to be showing up at Pauley Pavilion, I guess not.  The Bruins have defeated Drexel, Oakland, Sacramento State, and a bunch of other crummy teams that aren’t ranked.  On the other hand, UCLA is playing an exciting uptempo offense, and nearly scored 100 points in three straight games, which hasn’t happened since 1971.  Only time will tell, but UCLA faces only one ranked opponent before conference play begins in January.  My gut tells me this is who Steve Alford is.  A dominant coach in the regular season, who will be badly exposed come tournament time.

On to the NBA.  Imagine what is going through the mind of Lakers owner Jim Buss right now.  He’s probably thinking he’s actually got a pretty good basketball team, and that we are all idiots, since his team is hovering around .500 through the first month of the season without Kobe Bryant.  Jimmy just doesn’t get it.  He took a team of hall of famers last year, and alienated them by hiring a coach that works better with less talented players.  He then brought in less talented players to make it work with Mike D’Antoni, and it appears to be working thus far.  Chemistry is important, but talent wins out when things matter in the playoffs.  It’s as though Jim Buss is determined to be mediocre no matter how hard everyone around him tries to convince him otherwise.  This team is destined for first round purgatory, until Buss figures this out.

As for the Kobe Bryant contract extension, it’s just downright moronic.  Kobe is easily my favorite NBA player of all-time, but why would you guarantee him $48 million for two more years without even seeing him play after tearing his achilles tendon?  I realize that Kobe is worth far more to the Lakers than the $48 million he will be earning over the next two years, but that’s besides the point. The Lakers could have manipulated this ridiculous system the owners put in place, and built a powerhouse team overnight.  Instead, they’ll be hard pressed just to add one more max contract player this summer.

As the Lakers chase mediocrity, the Clippers are battling the injury bug.  JJ Redick is out for the next 6-8 weeks with a broken hand, and Chris Paul is already dealing with a sore hamstring.  This doesn’t seem like a big deal given that the Clippers came into Sunday 4th in the West, with a 12-5 record.  However, the Clipper bench has taken quite a step back this season.  The Clipps are just 14th in the league in bench scoring, compared to 3rd last season.  Much of this is the result of trading Eric Bledsoe to the Suns for a pair of starters.  The irony of it is, it’s the Lakers who have the highest scoring bench in the league this season.

There are some incredibly disappointing teams in the NBA thus far.  The real question is what the hell is going on in New York and Brooklyn?  The Nets are just 5-12, Kevin Garnett looks like he left his game in Boston, and Jason Kidd looks way over his head, and resorting to tactics like spilling soda to win games.  The Knicks are just 3-12, Mike Woodson is about to get canned, Carmelo is talking like he’s ready to leave, and Amare seems like he can barely walk.  Then there’s Cleveland, who has somehow gotten worse defensively under Mike Brown, has no offense, and everyone in the locker room seems to hate each other.

Let’s go to the ice, where the LA Kings loss to the Flames on Saturday was embarrassing on so many levels.  For the first time this season, the Kings lost to one of the worst teams in the league, and both times it happened in the last 30 seconds of regulation.  Goaltender Ben Scrivens looked like he had put on skates for the first time, when he slipped in the corner handling the puck, which led to the Flames first goal.  Then the Kings were beaten in the last few moments by former King, Mike Cammalleri.  I get it, LA isn’t going to win every game, but it sure would be nice if they beat the teams that aren’t even trying to win anymore.

Meanwhile, the Ducks may have lost their grip on first place in the Pacific, but they certainly aren’t having any problems scoring goals.  Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Dustin Penner, have all scored nearly as many goals as they did all of last season.  Strangely enough, they can’t seem to score on the powerplay though.  Tuesday should be interesting, when the Kings and Ducks lock up at the Honda Center for the first time this season, and two opposing styles of play will be on display as well.

After 13 weeks of NFL Football, here’s what I’ve learned:  The AFC belongs to Peyton and the Broncos unless Tom Brady and the Pats can knock them off.  The Chiefs had a nice run, but they are coming back to earth.  Nobody disappoints like the Chargers, and nobody shows up for their games either.  Just when you think the Redskins franchise is about to turn around, the next season they miss the playoffs for the 17th time in 21 years, and are 0-5 in prime time.  That means it’s probably unemployment time for Mike Shanahan.

Although I never read the books, I’ve saw the sequel to Hunger Games this past weekend, “Catching Fire”.  I thought the first movie was fantastic, and Jennifer Lawrence delivered a tremendous performance.  However, in the sequel, I found myself leaving the theatre completely unsatisfied.  This movie felt like it was building up to something big, but didn’t really build up to much, and simply left the viewer on a giant cliff hanger, with a few twists and turns along the way.  Now I have to wait a whole year for the next one? Damn you Hollywood!

I was very sad to hear the news about Paul Walker’s death this weekend.  Walker was only 40, and he lost his life in a car crash, right after doing a good deed, helping at a charity event.  I’m sure Walker’s acting career will most be remembered by his “Fast and The Furious” films.  However, my two personal favorites were “Varsity Blues”, and “Joy Ride”.  Thanks for entertaining us Paul.  RIP.

Finally, the fall finale of The Walking Dead took place last night, and I was absolutely exhausted when it was over.  A big spoiler alert for those of you who haven’t seen this episode, because there were some shocking deaths that took place in the fall finale called “Too Far Gone”.  To quickly recap, The Governor convinces his new crew to attack the prison, and tries to convince the group that they won’t use violence, just intimidation.  When the Governor and his crew show up at the prison, he calls for Rick to come out and speak to him.  The Governor demands that Rick and his people leave the prison, or else he will attack.  He also threatens to kill Michonne and Hershel, who were taken prisoner, if Rick doesn’t leave.  Rick tries to convince him that they can share the prison, but of course, The Governor refuses.  When Rick proclaims that they will not leave, all hell breaks loose.

The Governor immediately kills Hershel with a katana blade, and a shoot out takes place with Rick’s people and the Governor’s crew.  The Governor and Rick end up beating the crap out of each other, then Michonne stabs The Governor before he strangles Rick.  Half the group at the prison escapes on a bus, which included Glenn, and the other half are scattered into small groups to escape the chaos, which included Maggie, Rick, Carl, Daryl, and Beth, among others.  Despite outnumbering the group at the prison and having tanks, it appears as though the Governor’s group was soundly defeated, while the prison was overrun by Walkers.

This episode left the audience emotionally devastated, while trying to figure out what actually happened when it was over.  Let’s start with Hershel, who in many ways was the heart of The Walking Dead.  Over the last few seasons, Hershel saved Karl, and more recently, Glenn and Sasha during the plague.  He came close to death at a few other points in the show, but of course the creators of the show had to dramatize his death with a “Kill Bill Style” decapitation.  It almost seems like the more important the character is, the more dramatic the death.  Then there was the Governor’s death, which took me by surprise.  I suppose it now makes sense that they focused on him for the last 2 full episodes before killing him off.  It also took a tag team effort of Michonne, Rick, and Lily to kill him.  He simply went crazy with his power, and wanted to do whatever he could to regain it after losing Woodbury.  Obviously Rick didn’t watch “Kill Bill Volume 2”, otherwise he would have known he needed to samurai The Governor’s ass to kill him.

I’m really going to miss this show until it returns in February.  This episode felt a lot like the chaos that occurred at the end of season 2, with characters scattered everywhere.  Where is Beth?  Where is Judith?  What happened to Daryl?  So many questions that won’t be answered for two months.  The real question is who the new villain of the show will be.  It’s obvious now that the real danger in the show show is the human beings, rather than the zombies.  Shane was a villain who snuck up on all of us, while The Governor was unbelievably evil.  Who will be next?  Can’t wait to see what’s in store for the 2nd half of the season, but I’m sure these two months will give me time to catch my breath after what I saw last night.

Karl and Daryl




The Kobe Extension : Stupidity or Loyalty?

Kobe yelling jersey pull

December 1st, 2013

I’m all for loyalty in sports, but the Lakers made a very poor choice earlier this week.  They gave Kobe Bryant, 35 years old and coming off surgery to repair a torn achilles tendon, a 2 year contract extension for $48.5 million.  Kobe will earn $23.5 million next year, and $25 million the season after that.  That’s roughly one-third of the Lakers entire salary cap number, and definitely leaves the Lakers with limited flexibility for the remainder of the Kobe era.

Look, I get it.  Kobe is one of the greatest players in NBA history, and is probably the greatest Laker of all-time.  He’s also worth a lot more to the Lakers brand, and the value of the franchise, than the $48.5 million he’ll be getting paid over the next two years.  I even get that Kobe is taking a pay cut from the $30 million he made last season, and that can’t be easy to deal with when you are married to the demanding Vanessa.  Still, the Lakers usually make decisions based on winning, not based on business, and I’m not so sure winning had anything to do with this.  Kobe and the Lakers both know better than this.

First, Kobe has yet to play a game since tearing his achilles tendon last spring.  He may return next week, but who knows what level he will be playing at when he returns. Will he be the player that averaged 27 point per game last season?  Or will he be a shell of The Black Mamba?  If he can’t be The Black Mamba as we know him, then where does that leave the Lakers and their $48.5 million dollar investment?  And what other free agents would want to play with Kobe when he is no longer the player we’ve known him as?

Even if Kobe does return to form, the Lakers can now only afford 1 more max salary player.  Try as they might, that player won’t be Lebron James.  So let’s say they are able to sign the next best player on the market next summer, which is Carmelo Anthony.  Do we really think that a core of Carmelo, Kobe, and a bunch of role players will contend for an NBA championship?  Probably not.  The Lakers probably won’t even be able to re-sign Pau Gasol anymore, after giving Kobe this huge deal.  Pau will probably command at least $10 million per year, which will make the Lakers hard pressed to do so if they pair Carmelo with Kobe.  Don’t forget the Lakers will probably have to pay Steve Nash at least $3 million if they waive him.

The Lakers could have really pulled a fast one on the NBA here.  Kobe could have taken a two year deal for $20 million, and they would have had chance to pair Kobe with ‘Melo and Lebron, or ‘Melo, Rajon Rondo, and Kevin Love.  Even if Kobe had taken between $10-15 million a year, LA would have had the ability re-load with a powerhouse team very quickly.  Now, their best chance to acquire more talent is to trade for some of these younger studs who will be free agents in 2015.  The problem is, they lack the assets to do so.  Sure they have a roster full of expiring contracts, but they don’t have many draft picks, since they sent out a few of those for Steve Nash, who is older than the bible.

The decision to do this seems so dumb, you almost have to wonder if the Lakers were given some kind of indication that they weren’t going to get Lebron or Carmelo this summer.  Knowing Jim Buss, he probably realized that the only way he was going to get those guys to sign in LA, was if Phil Jackson was helping him recruit, and he’d probably not want to recruit anybody at all than work with his soon to be brother-in-law.

When you listen to Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss talk about this decision, they mention how much Kobe has meant to this franchise, and how great it is having him play 20 years with the Lakers.  However, there was no mention of winning championships from either of them.  Maybe they realize  that it probably won’t happen in the next two years.  Kobe was never going to leave the Lakers, and I’m sure he believes that with just one more max player, they can win another championship.  It’s a great attitude to have from your franchise player, but that doesn’t make it realistic.  The Lakers have signed up for two more years of mediocrity.