June 30th, 2014
Thursday night was one of the better nights for the Los Angeles Lakers in quite some time. The Lakers used the 7th pick to select Kentucky Freshman Power Forward, Julius Randle, who was a double-double machine this past year. Randle probably won’t become the next Tim Duncan, but seems like a good bet to be a solid pro. LA was fortunate that Randle slid out of the top 5, because he probably should have been in the top 3, had it not been for a rumored foot injury. I even like the selection of Jordan Clarkson in the 2nd round, who might even give the Lakers some badly needed athleticism in the backcourt. More importantly, I’m just glad that Jim Buss wasn’t drinking tequila with his favorite scout Chaz, who is also a former bartender, which could have caused the Lakers to trade away the pick to Miami for Lebron’s game worn underwear.
I’m not even going to bother addressing the ridiculous Carmelo Anthony and Lebron James pipe dream rumors because it’s not happening. However, one free agent that appears like he will inevitably re-sign with the Lakers is Pau Gasol. Pau is already running out of options with Dallas acquiring Tyson Chandler, Memphis re-signing Zach Randolph, and Chicago trying to move heaven and earth for ‘Melo. No matter how many trade rumors pop up, and no matter how many times the Lakers seemingly have deals in place to trade him, he always finds a way to remain with the team. It’s almost like the move “What About Bob?”, where Bob is Pau, and the Lakers are Richard Dreyfuss. I’m sure when Pau re-signs in another week or two, the Lakers will probably announce that he’s back on the trade block.
You definitely cannot blame NBA players for wanting to experience free agency, and enjoy it. In fact, if I were an NBA free agent, I would definitely meet with all 30 teams. “So where are we doing to dinner tonight guys? I’m feeling like Mexican!” Then by the time I got to Cleveland, I’d say “You know, if you really want to me sign, I’m going to need at least two more seafood towers.”
As for the Clippers, I’m not really sure what Doc Rivers was thinking by drafting guard CJ Wilcox on Thursday night. Hey Doc, I’m not sure if you noticed, but your team is loaded with guards, you are pretty thin in the front court, and might be losing even more front court players due to free agency. It would have even been better if the Clippers had traded the pick along with a crummy contract like Jared Dudley. Rivers insists that the Clippers wanted to take “the best player available”, but you usually do that when you are picking in the lottery. Then again, the Clippers were used to picking in the lottery for so many years, I guess they still don’t know how to act any differently.
Somehow, the U.S. men’s soccer team survived “The Group of Death”. Although the tie against Portugal felt more like a loss, the fact that we only lost 1-0 to Germany, has to make one feel like we can compete with anybody. Yes, I realize that the Germans had the ball for about 70% of the match, but we also played like we wanted a tie. Supposedly we are underdogs against Belgium, but they qualified out of some dumpster fire that is the equivalent of last year’s NFC East. Meanwhile, we’ve already faced some of the toughest competition in the tournament. I don’t know about you guys, but I feel like I can’t eat Belgian waffles for at least a week with Tuesday’s matchup looming.
On to baseball, where the Dodgers have caught the hated San Francisco Giants atop the NL West, after taking three out of four games against the Cardinals this weekend. The Boys in Blue have won 12 of their last 16 games, and have made up 9.5 games on San Fran in the last three weeks, while their Nor Cal rivals were probably busy slamming too much organic food and crab sandwiches over that stretch. Clayton Kershaw was brilliant again yesterday, extending his shutout streak to 28 innings. The entire lineup is hitting, the bullpen is slowly getting its act together, and the rest of the starting pitching is solid. The best part is the team hasn’t even played it’s best ball yet, having not won more than 3 straight all year. The worst part though, is that Hanley Ramirez is made of glass, suffering from a shoulder injury and then a calf injury. He’s probably headed to the DL, which is where Justin Turner also went this weekend as well.
With the trade deadline approaching, the rumors continue to fly that the Dodgers could make a deal for Rays ace David Price. That deal would simply be absurd. If the Dodgers acquire Price, he would essentially be their 3rd or 4th starter with the way their entire rotation is pitching. Of course he would be nice to have, but it would be totally unnecessary. Instead, the team should look to improve their middle relief, and their bench with the likes of a Ben Zobrist from Tampa Bay, Joaquin Benoit from San Diego, or Joe Thatcher from Arizona. How much more money can the Dodgers spend? If LA is going to win a World Series this year, for the most part, the current core of the team is going to have to get it done.
As for the Angels, they dropped two out of three to the Royals in disappointing fashion over the weekend, and are now 6 games behind the A’s for first place in the AL West. Yesterday Howie Kendrick committed a critical error in bottom of the 9th, which would gotten the Halos to extra inning had he turned a double play. To make matters worse, Albert Pujols is suffering from a groin injury. The Halos still lead the AL Wild Card, but they still need bullpen help badly. I don’t think last week’s Ernesto Frieri for Jason Grilli trade with the Pirates solves anything, as both teams just swapped garbage. Relievers definitely have the ability to turn it around, but putting all your hopes on Grilli closing games is like hoping Kim Kardashian will stop dating black dudes.
Finally, it’s really a bummer to find out that the LA Kings will not be re-signing defenseman Willie Mitchell, who was a key part of the last two Stanley Cup Championships. Mitchell is 37 years old, but the Kings already have 6 defenseman under contract next year, and a few other emerging prospects behind them. The Kings also made a surprising trade at the NHL Draft, by sending center Linden Vey to the Canucks for the 50th pick. Vey was thought to be the heir apparent to either Jared Stoll or Mike Richards in the near future, but LA clearly feels like they will be hanging onto those two for a while. This just goes to show you how brilliantly GM Dean Lombardi has managed the salary cap, as he has lost very little over the last few years. Just more evidence that the Kings will be in Cup contention for the next few years. Still, thanks for your contributions Mr. Mitchell, you will be missed.