Monthly Archives: October 2016

Monday Morning Coffee


October 31st, 2016

Welcome to the Halloween edition of Monday Morning Coffee.  Although this edition is more like Monday Afternoon Coffee.  We start with the Los Angeles Lakers, who are off to a so-so start after 3 games.  The opener was amazing.  The Lake Show played with energy, D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and Brandon Ingram all gave us hope for the future.  Then they began a road trip on Friday that is the equivalent of trying to walk through a mine field.  Nobody shot well in Utah, but the Lakers played hard, and played cohesively.  They just didn’t take the game away from the Jazz when it was presented to them.  Against Oklahoma City, they just had a bad matchup.  D’Angelo Russell may have taken a beating from Russell Westbrook yesterday, but so does everybody.  For him, there’s value in that, and it will make him a better player in the long run.  Russell and Randle still were effective, but it’s the superstars like Westbrook that take over in the 4th quarter.  If somehow the Lakers can come back 2-2 on this trip, that would be a nice accomplishment for this young team.  You can see the potential.  You can see the effort and the engagement level.  However, it just needs time and patience.

As for the Clippers, as much as I criticize them for not getting it done, they have looked great so far against two pretty good teams.  CP3 still looks like he has quite a bit of game left in the tank, and Blake Griffin is back to putting up big numbers.  As I noticed in training camp a few weeks ago, Blake isn’t necessarily trying to dunk on everybody like he used to, which may be a product of age and the mileage on his body.  That doesn’t mean he can’t be a great or even better player than he’s ever been.  However, there really is no reason for him to be settling for three-pointers.  He’s too big and strong for most of the people that guard him, so he should focus on dominating people in the paint.  The addition of Mo Speights also seems to be giving the Clipps a different offensive look in their front court and off the bench, which should help neutralize DeAndre’s free throw issues when the game is on the line.  DeAndre may not have role offensively that he wanted, but if he’s dominant on the defensive end, that’s all you need from him.

As for what we’ve seen early on in the Association, Anthony Davis is putting up video game numbers in New Orleans, but he can’t get any help.  It’s going to be a looooooong season for the Pelicans.  Russell Westbrook is a machine.  Who cares if Russell Westbrook took 44 shots against the Suns? He had a triple double.  Are you going to call him selfish?  Less than a week into the season, the 76ers have already been eliminated from the playoffs.  However, Joel Embiib is actually good for more than just drinking Shirley Temples, because he’s been impressive on the court so far.  After getting blown out by the Spurs, the Warrior fans are ready to trade Kevin Durant to Dallas for Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes.  I love the prison of the moment panic we’ve seen, but I’m pretty sure the Warriors are still going to be dominant this season.  Just give them time to get their chemistry right.  I love Russell Westbrook’s reaction to this loser fan in Philly……

Let’s to week 8 of the NFL, where Philip Rivers took a beating I haven’t seen since watching last week’s episode of The Walking Dead.  Rivers was hit 17 times, sacked four times, and picked off three times in the Chargers loss to Denver.  I guess the Eagles thought leaving nobody in the end zone to cover Jason Witten was a good strategy, but unfortunately for them, the Cowboys beat Philly in OT.  If the league really wanted to stop domestic abuse, they wouldn’t give us the Titans and Jaguars on Thursday night Football.   If you thought that was bad, the Browns vs Jets was the dumpster fire game of the week.  They really wonder why ratings are dropping? Too much football means over saturation. What’s gotten into Matt Ryan?  He’s usually great in September and early October.  Apparently he’s a lot better than that, as he’s still dominating the league, and dominated the Packers yesterday in the Falcons close win. The Redskins and the Bengals ending in a tie couldn’t be any more fitting.  The game was played on a soccer field.  The Cardinals were doing a great re-enactment of last years NFC Championship game by getting blown out by the Panthers.  Gronk and the Patriots steam rolled the Bills, and the Pats tight end had his 69th career touchdown.  Knowing Gronk, he’ll probably find it cool to not score for the rest of the year to stay at that number.  The Raiders vs Bucs was the game of teams with pirate logos that nobody wanted to win, until Derek Carr threw his 5th TD pass in OT.  The Chiefs took down the Colts, but not before Alex Smith’s wife began ripping KC weather men on Twitter, after they took shots at her husband.  Russell Wilson got married and see what happens? He never scores anymore.  The Saints shocked the Seahawks at home.  Playing the Lions was the perfect cure for Brock Osweiler to not suck for a week, as the Texans defeated Detroit.

Ok, how good is Sam Darnold? The statistics say he’s doing better as a freshman than Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, and Matt Barkley.  In fact, he’s suddenly the best quarterback in Los Angeles, surpassing the injured and cocky Josh Rosen.  After beating Cal, the Trojans still have a shot to win the Pac 12 South, and potentially have a chance to play for the Rose Bowl.  The Trojans could easily go 8-4 before losing in the Pac 12 Championship game.  With a suddenly elite quarterback, a couple of victories over rivals UCLA and Notre Dame, Clay Helton is going to be smiling and thinking he’s done enough to keep his job.  But has he? I think most Trojan fans would say no, but until I see what USC looks like against Washington, and potentially in the Pac 12 Title game, I’m reserving judgement.  Even if the Trojans look good, I’m not sure why they wouldn’t go out and get themselves and elite head coach, given how much more attractive the program is going to look.

Elsewhere around College Football, Notre Dame finally got back in the win column by beating Miami. The Irish still managed to blow a 20 point lead though, which is nothing new for them this season. Amazingly, the Notre Dame defense even managed to get a few sacks. Brian Kelly said after the game that “we actually sack the quarterback here at Notre Dame.” Really? Because, it’s felt like your defense hasn’t even been able to tackle anybody all season, let alone sack anybody. Clemson got by Florida State, in game that featured Jimbo Fisher coaching against Dabo Sweeney. Might as well have called it the Red Neck Bowl brought you by ‘Natti Light. Washington got by Utah, in what was probably their last big test on their schedule. The Huskies better win out, because they are unlikely to make the College Football Playoff with their soft schedule down the stretch. This is definitely the point where Nebraska comes crashing back to earth and becomes the team we thought they were. They lost to Wisconsin, and are probably going to take a beating from Ohio State next week. Michigan is now in the driver seat in the Big 10, and as long as they keep winning, it doesn’t matter how many people Jim Harbaugh pisses off.

I thought the city of Chicago was going to burn down last night if the Cubs had lost game 5 to the Indians. It might still happen on Tuesday night anyway. See what happens when you have more than 1 quality starting pitcher, and more than 1 quality reliever? You can actually shut down a pretty good lineup like the Cubs. Are you listening Andrew Friedman? On paper, the Cubs have a great team, but the Indians pitching is just a little bit better right now, and that’s going to be the difference in this series. Besides, the Cubs losing the World Series is still a better story than them winning. They are “the loveable losers” , and the fact that they keep losing in these big moments keeps them an intriguing story. It’s not like the Indians have been reeling off World Series Championships annually for the last half-century either, so they will at least get to end their years of futility in the next few days. That’s a pretty nice story for the city of Cleveland, which has had to deal with the Browns for all these years.

Speaking of the Cubs, after they defeated the Dodgers, I couldn’t be any more irritated with the comments from Andrew Friedman and Stan Kasten. Instead of acknowledging that they are going to go out and get the one or two pieces needed to put them over the top, they chalked October up to nothing more than luck. They simply think that by going to the playoffs 10-12 times, they are bound to break through. Funny, because Friedman never won anything in Tampa, and Kasten failed to get his teams over the top year after year of having solid teams in Atlanta in the 1990’s. I’m pretty sure the Indians and Cubs got to the World Series because they spent a little extra money on quality starting pitching, and in the bullpen.   Neither one of those teams has to ask themselves what injury prone stiff they forced to start in a long playoff series. The Dodgers better be smart enough to bring back Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner if they are serious about contending. Sounds to me like it’s the fans that are the unlucky ones, since they are stuck with a front office that has no idea how to get it done.

On the ice, it’s been a tough road trip for the Kings. The last time LA scored a goal, Donald Trump had real hair. Ok, so it wasn’t that long ago, but the Kings offense has been shutdown badly on this trip. The Kings really miss the speed and skill of Marian Gaborik. They also miss the elite goaltending of Jonathan Quick. I admit that Peter Budaj has surpassed my expectations so far, but I can’t imagine the Kings going another three months with him and Jack Campbell as their goaltenders. Then there’s the Ducks who took a beating from the Blue Jackets last week. A 4-0 loss to Columbus at home has to make you question how well the Randy Carlye coaching change is going. We’ve seen a lot of players on this team not respond to Caryle before, so that’s something to keep an eye on. The Ducks are also the latest good team to be facing salary cap issues after re-signing Hampus Lindholm. The production of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are going to be under a microscope for a while with their massive salaries on the books.

Ok people, it’s time to let go of the emotional distress the Walking Dead caused you last week, and move on to the next episode.  With that being said, spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see last night’s episode, so read no further if you plan on watching it later.  This episode was a much less stressful one, and one that reminded us of one of the shows best qualities: world building.  Rick always seems to run into blood thirsty, power-hungry maniacs, disrupting these plans.  Carol and Morgan have stumbled upon The Kingdom, which seems to be an inspiring place of hope, led by King Ezekial.  Seeing Ezekial’s medieval themed kingdom with his tiger made me feel like I was watching some weird combination of Game of Thrones and Sigfried and Roy.  Ezekial becomes a pretty likable character immediately when he calls Carol out for being a bullshitter, and seeing through her phony sweet act.  Even with his ability to keep his people safe from The Saviors by providing them with weekly goods, we’ve seen these idealistic leaders get crushed in the world of savages around them.  However, for the time being, this guy seems to have given Carol and Morgan some inspiration to continue fighting.  We need Carol to go back to that ruthless assassin that she was, and we need Morgan to begin to realize that sometimes he has to fight ruthlessly to survive.  The Kingdom has probably given those two reason to do that for the time being, and I suspect that somehow they will team up with the Kingdom to help fight back against Negan.  A pretty good episode, and special thanks to the writers of the show for giving us one that was stress free.

Khary Payton as Ezekiel - The Walking Dead _ Season 7, Episode 2 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC


Monday Morning Coffee


October 24th, 2016

I’ve been telling you all since last spring that this Dodger team isn’t going to the World Series. The fact they were eliminated by the Cubs in the NLCS on Saturday night doesn’t making it any less disappointing.  It was like Steve Bartman was playing left field for the Dodgers.  Ok fine, for about two seconds I believed that the pressure might be too great for the Cubs after the Dodgers went up 2-1 in the series. Then I realized that once Kenta Maeda was starting game 5, LA had no chance. Just like the Cubs, the Dodgers have some good young players.  However, unlike the Cubs, the Dodgers haven’t adequately supplemented that young talent with the proper veteran support to make themselves a true World Series contender.  We’ve been hearing “the Dodgers are close” since 2013. Under Andrew Friedman, they are no closer.  The Cubs have a Cy Young candidate themselves in Jake Arrieta.  He’s been struggling, but you’d never know it because they have three other capable starting pitchers. The Dodgers don’t, and their bullpen wasn’t as good as we thought.   Clayton Kershaw has to do everything for LA. When he and Kenley Jansen fail, that’s all we hear about.  I’m surprised Kershaw’s arm hasn’t fallen off given how much he’s pitched in the last two weeks. What we should be talking about is how pathetic the Dodger offense is. How Joc Pederson, Yasmani Grandal, and Josh Reddick can’t hit, and how the team has no speed.   Your window to win isn’t forever, especially when you have a great pitcher like Kershaw. When Andrew Friedman decides not to re-sign Justin Turner, Kenley Jansen, and Rich Hill, the Dodgers will be no closer to the World Series, which is really a shame and very frustrating for Dodgers fans.

As for the Cubs, you have to give them credit. Theo Epstein built this team to win now, after suffering through several losing years.   What’s a few more losing years when you’ve been waiting 108 years to win a title? Somewhere in a Chicago dungeon, Steve Bartman is in chains celebrating the Cubs victory.  I think it’s safe to say that hell has frozen over since both the Indians and Cubs are in the World Series, except one of these long suffering fan bases is going to be extremely disappointed. Here’s a live look at hell.


Remember when Jeff Fisher said the Rams “aren’t going 9-7, 7-9, or 8-8”? Oh yes they are. In completely unsurprising fashion, the Rams went to London, and lost another close game to a non-divisional opponent.  There are guys with erectile dysfunction that finish better than this team has over the first seven games of the season. They just don’t have enough playmakers on the roster.  My goodness Case Keenum!  That was the worst interception of all-time on the final drive of the game. Tavon Austin is supposed to be the teams’ most dangerous weapon, and even he couldn’t be counted upon to hang onto an important pass, which resulted in one of the Giants’ touchdowns.  I think it’s safe to say the Rams have regressed towards the mean after a couple of big divisional wins, and that the team is simply average at best.  If the team is going to lose, and their quarterback is going to throw four interceptions, then it should be their quarterback of the future, Jared Goff, who is throwing them.  Goff is going to go through growing pains, so why not let him do it now? The Rams have a bye week coming up, and the struggling Carolina Panthers after that. Sounds like a pretty good time to get your rookie quarterback in there. Still, I feel like Jeff Fisher is going to hold onto false hope that this team can go 7-2 down the stretch and get in the playoffs. That sounds laughable though, especially given the way Seattle and Arizona are playing now.  We can’t find a quarterback better than this?

Elsewhere in week 7 of the NFL, The Falcons reminded that Chargers that they have been collapsing in games way before San Diego made it cool again.  The Bolts have suddenly won two in a row, and their new game plan should be to trail heading into the 4th so they can’t blow the game.   I like how everyone suddenly believes in Aaron Rodgers again after beating up on the Bears, one of the worst teams in football. Let’s see him do that against some reasonably good competition before we jump back on the bandwagon.  Both the Seahawks and the Cardinals deserved to lose that game last night.  Seattle is scoring less these days than before Russell Wilson married Ciara.  That game ended and Donovan McNabb was still sitting in his living room wondering when the game was going to resume.  LeGarrette Blount and the Patriots defeated Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers in “The Weed Bowl”.  The Raiders not only beat the Jags, but they discovered the best running back on their team is actually their punter.  Sam Bradford did a great job reminding the Eagles why they traded him when Philly beat up on the Vikings.  Drew Brees has way more class than me.  If I were him I’d be saying after every game that “it’s not my fault our defense can’t tackle.” So that’s what happens when you protect Andrew Luck? He goes off and the Colts actually win.  49ers linebacker Aaron Lynch said San Fran is the most talented team in the NFC after his team got pounded by Tampa Bay.  Lynch should be suspended immediately for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.   Jay Ajayi is like the cocaine boost the city of Miami needed, as the Dolphins got by Buffalo.  Ryan Fitzpatrck to Geno Smith, and back to Ryan Fitzpatrick.  Does it matter when your team stinks? The Jets only won because the Ravens offense is horrendous.  The Redskins should blame Skip Bayless for losing to the Lions.  He tweeted that the game was in the bag once the Skins got the lead.  If Skip said the sun was going to rise tomorrow, I’d be worried the world was going to end.  It turns out that God doesn’t actually hate Cleveland.  He just hates the Browns.  AJ Green proved this with his miraculous catch.

The UCLA football team amazes me. They find new ways to disappoint on a weekly basis. With their backup quarterback, Mike Fafaul, they found a way to put 45 points on the scoreboard, yet still lost at home to Utah. Where was the much-improved defense that we’ve seen of late from UCLA? The Bruins also have the worst running game in Division I football.  How can a school like UCLA not have any halfway decent running backs? The Utes piled up 539 yards of offense, and the Bruins let some kid who retired from college football a few weeks over, run over them for 332 yards rushing.  UCLA can kiss it’s hopes for winning the Pac 12 South goodbye, and pretty soon it might be kissing its hopes goodbye just to make a sorry bowl game.  After a few years of “coming close”, it looks like the Bruins aren’t that close at all.  At best, you might get a win or two against your cross-town rival, USC, who has been down in recent years anyway. However, on the national stage the Bruins are nothing more than an average team.  It’s ok Bruin fans, you still have basketball season. Oh wait, nevermind.

Elsewhere around college football, Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbick has ended the speculation.  Head Coach, Brian Kelly, will be keeping his job regardless of what happens the remainder of the season. Kelly looks like William Shatner, and there have definitely been moments where I thought Shatner would do a better job coaching this team than Kelly.  Still, unless you can find me a better option than Kelly, and there’s not one available that I can think of, the wise thing to do would be to give him another year.  He has built enough equity to give him that opportunity.  On the scoreboard, huge upset by Penn State over Ohio State. The referees must have been busy watching the Cubs-Dodger game though, because they completely missed a pass interference call on Penn State late in the game that cost the Buckeyes.  It really doesn’t look like anybody is going to be stopping Alabama right now.  The Tide crushed A&M, and are killing it even though their fans probably aren’t smart enough to count the 33 points they scored. Speaking of killing, Leonard Fournette should be arrested for murder after what he did in the LSU game.

I was in Chicago over the weekend and got in an Uber.  It turns out that my driver was a former  lineman at Southern Illinois, and his son graduated last year from Michigan and was a starting defensive back for them.  The driver spent the duration of the ride telling me how much of a jerk Jim Harbaugh is, and how after just 1 year, all his players hate him.  In fact, he went on to say that not only do he and his son despise Harbaugh, but that it would only be a matter of time before he has a mutiny on his hands in the locker room, and he’s out as coach.  That may be a little extreme since Harbaugh probably wasn’t hired to be nice to his players.  However, I think it’s safe to say that despite his success, Jim Harbaugh is becoming more and more unlikeable with both his players and the media.  By the way, the driver also kicked me out of the car when he found out I went to Notre Dame.

To the NBA, where the 2016-2017 season begins this week.  The Lakers will open things up at home on Wednesday against the Houston Rockets.  This may sound sorry to say, but if the Lakers can win 30 games this season, that should be seen as huge progress.  That may be asking a lot though, so if nothing else, I’d like to see some major development from the likes of D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance Jr.  If two of those players can become all-stars in the next couple of years, LA will be in a good place.  Russell and Ingram look like they have the best chance to do that, so much of this year should be based on development, more so than wins and losses.  That development and the establishment of a new culture under Luke Walton is what this season is all about.  The early going could be tough since the Lakers have to play the Warriors three times in November.  However, as long as we see that development and culture change to re-establish a new Laker foundation, that’s something we can be satisfied with for now.  Just remember, the core are basically a bunch of teenagers.  You were probably buying booze and sneaking into clubs with a fake ID at that age.  It takes time, however, If things break right the Lakers might be back in playoff contention in 2017-2018, especially with some teams in the West getting older.

As for the Clippers, the storyline is going to be similar to the last five years.  They have a very good team on paper, but one that probably isn’t good enough to contend for an NBA title.  One of these days, Doc Rivers is sure acquire some players that will actually make the bench better.  We thought that was the case going into the last two seasons, but it never worked out.  Mo Speights, Ray Felton, Brandon Bass, and Alan Anderson seem like nice additions, but that’s probably not going to determine the fate of the Clipps.  It’s whether or not the CP3-Blake-DeAndre trio can elevate their game enough to take down the Warriors.  That’s a nice trio, but probably not. No matter how hard Doc Rivers tries to convince us and himself that they have a shot, I don’t really believe he thinks they can do it.  He knows however, that there’s no better situation for him, and the same with Blake and CP3, who will be free agents at the end of the year.  The best case scenario for this team is that they become the 2011 Dallas Mavericks, who caught lightning in a bottle, and managed to snag an NBA title before the Miami Heat got their act together.  That sounds far-fetched to me, but the Clipps should be #2 in the West during the regular season. The question is whether or not they can finally make it out of the second round, let alone beat the Warriors.

Who are we kidding? The NBA Finals are going to be the Warriors vs the Cavs again. This time, the Warriors will have too much firepower, beating the Cavs in 5. They are more than head and shoulders above everybody else.  Lebron and his children could make it out of the East.  There’s a few other teams and stories I’m keeping my eye on though. In the East, the Celtics might be a little improved, but people are acting like Al Horford is the second coming of Bill Russell.  The Raptors are still the 2nd best team in the East, but a distant second.  I can’t wait to see the disasters that are the Knicks and the Bulls.  The Knicks will be Porzingis and a bunch of injured guys. The Bulls can only compete if they find a way to convince the league to get rid of the three-point line.  I expect that neither will make the playoffs.  In the West, the Spurs will be #3, but the question is whether or not LaMarcus Aldridge will be a part of their core moving forward.  I can’t say I see a trade out there that makes the Spurs better without him.  The Thunder, Grizzlies, and Mavs had major roster turnover, and will be hard pressed to make the playoffs, but I expect them to hold off the Rockets, Timberwolves, and Suns.  I’ve been saying that Jazz will make the playoffs the last two years and have been wrong.  Third time is the charm right?  That Jazz should make it in this year.  It’s going to be fun, until you see Steph-KD-Klay-Draymond and the Warriors rule the league.

Let’s go to the ice where the LA Kings can’t go more than five minutes without losing a goaltender to a groin injury.  Jonathan Quick is out for three months, and now backup Jeff Zatkoff is out too with a groin pull.  My groin is starting to hurt just thinking about these injuries.  Even though Peter Budaj has helped the Kings win two straight, LA can’t spend the next three months playing with goalies who might not be able to stop a beach ball from going in the net.  I’d love to see Dean Lombardi pick up the phone and call the Red Wings about Jimmy Howard, who’s salary is high, but could fit with Quick on injured reserve.  The Kings may also be able to flip him later for some assets when Quick comes back from injury.  Then there’s the Ducks, who are also off the a rough start under Randy Carlyle. Jonathan Gibson seemed like he was a lot better goalie when he had Freddy Anderson pushing him for the starting job.  I expect that the Kings, Ducks, and Sharks will turn it around shortly, and will still be the class of the Pacific Division despite their early struggles.

Finally, who isn’t emotionally drained after watching The Walking Dead last night? Spoiler alert for those of you that have yet to watch it, and I’m about to drop some serious spoilers on you if you haven’t so read no further if you don’t want to know.  This show was such a blow to the fans, and just to frustrate us even more, Negan’s victims were drawn out until the middle of the episode.  Although the show did a good job of providing some misdirection for the last few months, if you followed the chatter online, you knew it was both Abraham and Glenn who were killed in gruesome fashion, and that’s exactly what happened.  Damn you Darryl! Had it not been for you punching Negan in the face, we might still have Glenn.  Glenn was my favorite character by far.  He was saving lives, getting tail, and became a man over the last six seasons.  Ultimately though, losing two significant characters was necessary.  As angry as you are, if they had just killed Aaron and Rosita, it would have lost credibility and the cliffhanger would have been stupid.  Ok, so they could have just made this whole thing 1 episode instead of two grueling episodes and a five month intermission between the two.  Ultimately though, the show just couldn’t go where it needed to go without this moment.  Frankly, I’m tired of hearing many of you cry about how you’re over the show because of the teasing and taunting the writers put you through.  Look television series kill off important characters all the time.  It’s all about luring you in and making you believe those characters could never die so that when they do, the dramatic impact is that much more magnified.  Apparently most of you forgot that, and for some reason convinced yourself that couldn’t be the case on this show.  The bottom line is that we’re still left with a a charming yet very evil villain in Negan, and what could potentially become a new leader in Maggie.  Oh, there’s also still plenty of great characters in the show in Darryl, Carol, and Morgan.  In other words, stop complaining and let the season play out people!



Monday Morning Coffee


October 17th, 2016

Clayton Kershaw has shut down the Cubs, and shut down his critics.  Kershaw has been nothing but heroic over the last week.  7 shutout innings yesterday in game 2 of the NLCS, 7 solid innings against the Nationals in game 4 of the NLCS, and closing out the Nationals in game 5.  Kershaw is totally being overworked.  He doesn’t care.  He’s been challenging his playoff demons head on, especially when he had the balls to ask Dave Roberts to close out the Nationals on short rest.  Despite yesterday’s win, the Dodgers probably don’t have enough around him to beat a much deeper Cubs team.  Without Kershaw, this series is a bigger mismatch than Dwight Howard vs condoms.  Saturday was a tough loss.  I had been dreading that moment since the season started.  The moment where Joe Blanton trots out of the bullpen in a big moment of the playoffs, and blows it for the Dodgers.  Sure enough, that’s what happened on Saturday night.  The Dodgers patchwork pitching staff cannot compete against a team that has four quality starters, a deep bullpen, and a lineup capable of exploding at any time.  This is where the flaws of LAs lineup and roster will be exposed.  If you have the highest paid payroll in baseball, you should be able to match the Cubs playoff roster.  Somehow, Andrew Friedman failed to do that.  He spent all his money on a bunch of injured pitchers who aren’t even good enough to make the post season roster.  His best offensive players are being paid to play elsewhere.  That’s the real shame for Clayton Kershaw.  He is doing amazing things, but unless the Dodgers can find a way to put a winner around him, his greatness will be forgotten.    It was a nice run while it lasted, but this is the end of the line for LA.  Cubs in 5.

We always criticize MLB skippers for not managing playoff games with desperation.  I have never seen desperation from any team like I did with Dodgers in game 5 against the Nationals.  Having your closer pitch the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings seems like stupidity, as does having your ace close a game.  However, it worked, so I can’t complain.  It also worked last night when Jansen pitched the last two innings against the Cubs.  Nevertheless, the fact the Dodgers had to do that speaks volumes about just how flawed their roster really is.

To the NFL, where only the Rams could do this.  For one week, Case Keenum looked like the second coming of Dan Marino, and Kenny Britt looked like Jerry Rice.  Except none of that was enough, and the Rams lost to the Lions, falling to 3-3.  Of course once the offense gets clicking, the defense goes straight to hell.  I’m not buying the injury excuse here, LA had their chances to win the last two games, and should be 5-1.  Instead, Jeff Fisher is on pace for another 8-8 season.  At least he’s consistent.  Fisher cost the Rams the last two games, including a foolish decision to go for it on fourth and goal at the end of the first half yesterday.  LA could have used those easy three points when it was all said and done, and the Rams lost 31-28 to the Lions.  All we heard last year what that the Rams were a play or two away from being 10-6.  It’s the same story this year.  It feels like they should be better.  Except like Bill Parcells said, “you are what your record says you are.”  The next 5 games are very winnable games for LA, but given the inconsistencies we’ve seen, I can’t say the Rams are any better than the .500 team that we thought they would be when the season started.

Elsewhere around the NFL, the Chargers save Mike McCoy’s job for the time being by beating the Broncos on Thursday night at the Q.  Colin Kapernick tossed a touchdown pass, so racism is over right?  The 49ers losing ways aren’t though, as they got blown out by the Bills.  Brock Osweiler is like that hot girl that you take home from the bar only to realize that she’s a tranny when it’s too late.  The Texans may have beaten the Colts yesterday, but they definitely have buyers remorse on their new QB.  The Redskins got by the Eagles, who have suddenly remembered that they are the Eagles.  The Browns players are getting salty watching all the other Cleveland teams win while they remain winless after getting beat by the Titans.  Good thing Seattle beat Atlanta.  I thought Steve Hauschka was going to get thrown off the Space Needle after missing an easy field goal earlier in the game.  Remember when everyone thought the Panthers were Super Bowl contenders?  Not anymore after the Saints took them down in the Dome.  The Raiders played like they are ready to move to Vegas in their loss to the Chiefs.  Dak Prescott and the Cowboys continue to roll after beating the Packers.  Dak isn’t so worried about Tony Romo taking his spot because he knows Romo will be injured again in 5 minutes after returning.  Tom Brady continued his revenge on the league as the Patriots beat up on the Bengals.  The Steelers should be demoted to the CFL after losing to the Dolphins.  The Jaguars beat the Bears in a game that should have been aired on Comedy Central.  The Giants beat the Ravens, Odell Beckham had a huge game, and then he proposed to the love of his life.

To College Football, where USC is back in the drivers seat for the Pac 12 South.  The Trojans still have a reasonable shot to win the Pac 12 South after pounding Arizona over the weekend.  Sam Darnold and JuJu Smith-Schuster looked like they were playing PlayStation with the video game like numbers they put up.  Not too many people are complaining about Clay Helton with the Trojans taking advantage of the soft part of their schedule.  Their best chance to win the Pac 12 South is going to be for them to beat Washington, and for Utah to get knocked off a couple of times along the way.  However, a loss to Washington and an 8-4 finish is very reasonable.  The question is whether or not that’s going to satisfy the Trojan faithful.  Probably not, but it may actually keep Clay Helton around for another season.

Then there’s the Bruins, who took another loss at Washington State.  UCLA was playing without starting quarterback Josh Rosen, so they really couldn’t have been expected to win this one with a starting quarterback that had only throw 7 passes in his college career.  Mike Fafaul did an admirable job filling in for Rosen, throwing for 258 yards and two touchdown passes, but the Bruins made some very typical Bruin like mistakes that they always make.  They had two critical turnovers in the final minute, and their running game was still non-existent.  This is an extremely average football team that still lacks the elite playmakers to compete with some of the best teams in the nation.  The luster of the Jim Mora Jr. era has officially worn off.

I think the question has to be asked: is Brian Kelly trying to get fired from his head coaching job at Notre Dame?  Despite their defensive issues, the Irish have a great deal of talent, and a fairly easy schedule, yet they are awful.  He’s also tried to pick a fight with the Stanford strength and conditioning coach after Saturday’s loss.  Everybody knows you never mess with the strength and conditioning coach.  They always get those “made in Bangladesh” shirts three sizes too small, and their muscles are exploding out of their clothes.  Tennessee got crushed by Alabama so badly on Saturday, they wish they were playing XBOX and could just unplug the controller and quit before it was over.  Ohio State and Clemson may have won, but the Tide look head and shoulders better than everyone else in the nation.

Laker point guard D’Angelo Russell is improving, but his critics kill me.  Russell had a tough game against Portland last week, missing every three point shot he took.  His critics we’re all over him for that game.  Then he rebounds against Sacramento with a 33 point and 11 assist game.  Where were all his critics after that showing? I didn’t hear one person talk about how great he looked.  The Lakers took a beating on Saturday against Golden State, and of course D-Lo got lit up by Steph Curry.  Frankly, I find these types of beatings that Russell is going to take from time to time very valuable.  Only by getting his beatings from Damian Lillard and Steph Curry can he actually get better as a point guard and mature.

All of a sudden, the outlook on the Angels 2017 season is much different.  Ace Garrett Richards threw 55 pitches to minor leaguers last week and looked like himself.  Richards has been recovering from a torn ligament in his pitching elbow, and suddenly looks like he’ll be ready to pitch at the start of next season.  There is no pitcher on the free agent market that is anywhere near as good, or affordable as Richards.  This is going to be a great story if Richards stays health and pitch effectively next season.

Finally, what a rough start for the LA Kings.  They lose their first two games, and lose goaltender Jonathan Quick for 3-4 months with a groin injury.  I’ve said all along that the cornerstones for the Kings are Quick, Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar, and Jeff Carter.  Losing any of those pieces and the team just isn’t nearly as competitive.  Sure enough, Quick is out, so LA is going to be tested.  I don’t think the Kings should go out and get themselves another goaltender though.  Even though their defense isn’t what it once was, the Kings developed goaltenders like Jonathan Benier and Martin Jones, by letting them play.  The Kings badly need more depth at that position, and they may actually discover some through the Quick injury.  After all, the Kings success this year depends on how much of their young talent they can actually develop.

Monday Morning Coffee


October 10th, 2016

The Dodgers put together a gritty game 1 win, but yesterday’s loss was just a reminder of why I think this team will be watching the rest of the playoffs on TV in just a few days from now.  In the first 6 innings they were 0-5 with the bases loaded, leaving 11 men on base.  It was like the Nationals were begging the Dodgers to end their season, yet LA said, “nah, we’re good.”  Then there’s Rich Hill, who somehow found a way to let the worst hitter in the Nationals lineup get the best of him, ultimately causing him to give up a 3-run bomb that completely altered the momentum.  So this is why Andrew Friedman pulled Hill from that perfect game he was throwing a few weeks ago, in order to “preserve him” for the playoffs?  So he could give us 4.2 innings of that nonsense?  I guess Hill needed to pee on his blister a little more.  I also get that the bullpen has performed well, but if you need your closer to record an 8 out save in big games, and your starters can’t routinely get through five innings, you’re entire pitching staff is fundamentally flawed.  The Nationals are a wounded animal, and while the Dodgers could have basically finished them off yesterday, now they have given them life and every possibility of sending the Boys in Blue home early once again.  Just another October for the Dodgers.

As for the rest of the MLB Playoffs, the Blue Jays-Rangers series should have been played in an Octagon.  It’s Jose Bautista and the Jays who got the last laugh though.  Texas hasn’t seen a beating that hard since Greg Hardy played for the Cowboys.  I still can’t believe that stupid Blue Jays fan threw a beer can at the Orioles outfielder.  That fan still threw more pitches than Orioles closer Zach Britton.  I’m not sure how you can leave your best pitcher on the bench in a do-or-die game.  Madison Bumgarner was amazing in that Wild Card win against the Mets, but enough of this even year non-sense.  The Giants are going to be going home after tonight.  Everyone seemed to have conveniently forgotten they were one of the worst teams in the league during the 2nd half.  The last time the Cubs won the World Series, America had only 13 colonies.  You think Clayton Kershaw has trouble in October? David Price can’t buy a win around this time of year.  When Mike Napoli is stealing bases on delayed steal signs, that’s a pretty good indication that everything is going the Cleveland Indians way.

To the NFL, where the Rams defense can only take them so far.  That was the case yesterday when the Bills came into the Coliseum and took down LA.  Coaching decisions were an issue.  I have no idea why Jeff Fisher decided to go for a fake punt late in the game, because he still had plenty of time for his team to get the ball back.  For the first time since week 1 though, LA’s defense was getting torn up.  A lot of that had to do with some injuries to important defensive lineman.  I also don’t understand why Aaron Donald, one of their best defensive players, was stuck on the sideline on a 3rd and goal? It’s fine to rotate your lineman, especially on a hot Sunday, but not on a critical down like that.   At the same time, It’s almost like the defense needs to ask themselves ever week “if we don’t score, who is going to?”  Case Keenum is literally the worst quarterback in the NFL, and you simply cannot win getting that kind of consistent ineffective play from that position.  It’s so bad that their best offensive player, Todd Gurley, is taking on the world on every offensive play.  He was a little better yesterday, but I can’t even tell anymore if there’s something wrong with him physically, if he’s in a sophomore slump, or if the offensive pieces around him are so inept that he just can’t succeed.  It’s certainly not helping my fantasy team, that’s for sure.  There’s not many immediate solutions to fix the offense, other than for Jared Goff to just hurry up and get better as a player.  I’m not so optimistic that’s gonna happen soon.  That was a big lost opportunity yesterday, because the Arizona Cardinals aren’t going to be down for long.  We know the Rams can win against teams in their division, but they just can’t to take care of business outside of it.  That’s trouble because their upcoming schedule is all opponents they just don’t see very often.

Elsewhere around the NFL, weren’t you just asking yourself all game how the Chargers were going to blow this one? Sure enough they found a way to do it again.  Maybe somebody needs to scream at Philip Rivers after all his turnovers, like he was screaming at DJ Fluker.  Odell Beckham made up with the kicking net, but it didn’t stop the Giants from losing to the Packers.   Apparently Tom Brady was throwing the football around with Giselle to stay sharp, because he looked dominant yesterday against the Browns.  Are the Browns out of quarterbacks yet? The Dolphins laid another egg, this time against the Titans.  Miami hasn’t played this badly since someone stole their mascot, Snowflake, right before the Super Bowl.  That $72 million Brock Osweiler contract is working out great for the Texans isn’t it? Jay Cutler is probably enjoying watching Brian Hoyer take his job.  It still didn’t get the Bears a win against the struggling Colts.  The Redskins beating the Ravens softened the blow for the folks in DC of having to listen to another Presidential debate last night.  The Ravens offense is horrible.  The Steelers cruised to another win.  Isn’t it time for the Jets to give Geno Smith another shot?  Just when you think the Eagles might be some juggernaut, they go and lose to the Lions.  Dak Prescott doesn’t look like he plans on giving up the starting QB job anytime soon after the Cowboys throttled the Bengals.  I’m surprised it’s taken six weeks for Chip Kelly to really consider starting Colin Kaepernick.  I guess all the Cardinals needed to solve their problems was to play the 49ers.  Is it me or do the Falcons make us think they are a good team every year before collapsing? I’m not buying it this year.  This is what it’s like playing against the Vikings defense…..


Let’s go to college football where USC picked up another win, this time against Colorado.  The Trojans used to annually abuse Colorado, but this was no easy win.  The Buffaloes forced Sam Darnold into a couple of fumbles, and another from Justin Davis to hang around late, but the USC defense stepped up and helped get them another win.  Despite all the turnovers from Darnold, I still can’t figure out if this guy is going to be a really good quarterback, or if he’s just benefitting from facing the softest part of the Trojans schedule.  Max Browne was really the one getting screwed from having to face Alabama and Stanford.  Until USC goes to Washington in November, I don’t think we’ll have an answer.  In all likelihood, Darnold is just masking the Trojans lack of quality coaching, game planning, and player development.  One thing Clay Helton does have going for him is the fact the Pac 12 South is still very winnable.

Over in Tempe, UCLA suffered a very disappointing loss to Arizona State.  I don’t care if Josh Rosen got hurt during key stretches of this game.  There’s no reason for this UCLA team to have lost to an ASU team that could only scrape together 275 yards of total offense.  The Bruins turned it over four times, they still have no idea how to generate a running game, and their quarterbacks have been sacked 15 times, which is already more than all of last season.  The only thing I had liked about UCLA was the fact their schedule was soft, but they are still finding a way to screw it up.  It turns out that Stanford loss wasn’t all that impressive anyway, since the Cardinal are falling apart faster than Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign.  Now UCLA will head to Washington State which could be trouble, since they seem to be suddenly blowing teams off the field.  All of this has done nothing other than remind me of why the Bruins football program has become a group of perennial underachievers.


Elsewhere in the college ranks, it took a hurricane, but the Notre Dame defense finally played well.  Unfortunately, Brian Kelly seemed to think passing the ball in the face of gusty winds was a good idea, causing Notre Dame to drop to 2-4.  Oh, that big showdown against Stanford next week in South Bend? Not so big anymore after the Cardinal got blown away by Washington State.  Then there’s Washington, who looks like a true playoff contender are dismantling Oregon.  Police are filing charges of rape, assault, and battery against the entire Michigan football team, after they humiliated Rutgers.  Navy just ran all over Houston, and will probably run them out of the rankings.  A new poll shows 62% of Ohioans think Ohio State would beat the Browns.  These are the people critical in deciding our next President?  This is what it’s like playing football in the midst of a hurricane….

I hate to put a lot of stock in preseason results for anything.  However, I like what I am seeing so far for the Lakers.  Before you roll your eyes while reading this, let me remind you: this is a process.  However, we are seeing that process come in the form of much more accountability and effort on the defensive end of the floor from the team, especial from D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson.  It’s going to take a while for these guys to develop their shooting, but defense is an area that can improve the Lakers results by leaps and bounds.  Once that happens, the Lakers can get themselves some easy baskets in transition, and make the game a lot easier for themselves.  Those were all elements that were absent last season, which can make a noticeable difference in a very short amount of time.

As for the Clippers, it’s come to this.  They’ve become so desperate to find a small forward, Doc has resorted to starting Austin Rivers there.  They’ve tried everybody, so how much worse can it go with Rivers there? Well, DeMar Derozan dropped 20 points on him in the first half of a preseason game last week, so we’ve reached a new low.  I’m not really sure how Doc Rivers convinced himself that having a 6’4 player guard a 6’7 or 6’8 player is a good idea.  Then of course there was the fact the Clippers got blown off the floor by the Warriors in a preseason game at Staples.  I’m thinking once the Warriors were up by 50 points, I was convinced the Kevin Durant addition was going to help them.

As we close the book on the Angels disappointing season, it’s hard not to look at just how good Mike Trout really is, at just 24 years old.  I’m not a baseball stats geek like some of you, but these numbers can’t just be minimized.  He is one of 8 players in the history of the game, prior to the age of 25, to finish a season with at least 25 home runs, 120 runs, and a .440 OBP.  The other 7 are Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mel Ott, Jimmie Fox, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, and Jim Thome.  He’s also one of 7 players prior to the age of 25 to have a season with at least 100 RBI, 110 walks, and 120 runs.  The others are Mel Ott, Jimmie Fox, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, and Troy Glaus.  Trout’s 48.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) is the best ever by a player before the age of 25.  Ty Cobb and Mickey Mantle were the next closest.  In other words, Trout is very likely going to be the best player you’ve ever seen in your lifetime.  However, the sad part about that is the Angels are wasting away the best years of his career, and there doesn’t seem to be much hope of turning it around any time soon.

Let’s go the ice, where the Kings are getting ready to open up their 50th NHL season on Wednesday at Staples Center.  The Kings are getting further and further away from their Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014, and they’ve lost quite a bit of depth and key role players since that success.  It’s resulted in just 1 playoff win in the last two seasons.  However, the Kings still have several of the best players at their position in the league, and are going to be dangerous.  Drew Doughty is arguably the league’s best defenseman, Anze Kopitar is one of the best two-way centers, Jeff Carter is a very dangerous scorer, and Jonathan Quick is still one of the games best goaltenders.  That gives LA a chance against anybody.  The Kings should be a playoff team again, however, they need to give some of their younger prospects a chance to develop.  They might not have any stars in their pipeline, but they don’t need them.  They need good role players, yet have the chance to develop some, based on what they’ve shown in Ontario.  Those players will need to step up and fill the void left by key departures on defense and on the third and fourth line.  Darryl Sutter isn’t the best at trusting young players, but he’ll need to do it since the team is so salary cap constrained.  I’m picking the Kings to win the Pacific, but until their defensive depth is fixed, I think they are getting bounced again early in the playoffs.

As for the Ducks, it’s hard to know what they are going to get with Randy Carlyle as their coach again.  The are loaded with talent, but they can’t seem to win in the playoffs.  Now that their talent is slowly starting to age, the question is whether or not their window to win has closed.  Carlyle wants to play at a faster pace, which is something that is far different than last years puck possession style stressed by the departed Bruce Boudreau.  Their goaltending and defense should be great, but Carlyle did not mesh well with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf when his last tenure with the Ducks ended.  They are also running out of time to get Hampus Lindholm and Rickard Rakell under contract before their season opens.  They might be able to survive short term without those guys, but not if the Ducks expect to do anything in the playoffs.  Ultimately, I think the Ducks end up finishing 3rd in the Pacific after going through their ups and downs adjusting to Carlyle.  I still don’t see much changing though in the playoffs, and another early exit.  As for my meaningless, way-too early Stanley Cup prediction, I’ll take the Dallas Stars over the Florida Panthers in 6 games.

Who had the stomach to watch the debate last night? As far as I’m concerned, the entire debate was “locker room talk”.  That’s really what the subject of last nights entire debate should have been, because the majority of it was spent on both candidates skeletons in their closet.  I think we’ve all taken plenty of shots at both Trump and Hilary, but the moderators and the media are really doing a terrible job covering this, and need to get their share of criticism.  Why? It’s because this election is bringing out the worst in everybody.  Nobody can tell you what really happened last night without putting their own spin on it.  Anderson Cooper does not like Donald Trump.  You could come to that understanding within 1 minute of watching the debate.  Then the headlines from last night are going to read that Hillary won the debate.  If anything, Trump probably got the best of her, but there are just so many people that dislike him at this point, they’ll all tell you the opposite.  It’s a very entertaining reality show, I’ll give you that, but at least let’s talk about the issues at hand.  It felt like we hardly did that last night.  Hopefully we can finally see more of that in the final debate in two weeks.  Otherwise, if I wanted the entertainment, I’d just watch these skits on SNL.

Monday Morning Coffee


October 3rd, 2016

It was a pleasure listening to Vin Scully one final time yesterday against the Giants.  However, Scully probably should have called it quits a week ago, when the Dodgers clinched the division on that Charlie Culberson walk-off homer.  Since then, instead of pushing for home field advantage in the division series, the Dodgers have lost 5 of 6 games heading into the post season.  It’s ok though.  I’m sure Andrew Friedman knows what he’s doing calling all the shots.  The Dodgers are only 15 games below .500 on the road, so it’s not like home field really matters right?  Knowing Friedman he probably used his super computer to torture a bunch of numbers to convince himself of that.  A more sensible nerd would probably just simulate the regular season and playoffs on PlayStation.  Instead of spending the last week tinkering with lineups, we should have seen more fine tuning and building momentum for next week.  We’ve been forced to see stiffs like Scott Kamir, Brandon McCarthy, and Brett Anderson over the last 6 games, just so Friedman can justify his investment in them.  It would be idiotic to put any of them on the playoff roster.  As for their matchup against the Nationals, I don’t care if LA won 5 of 6 against Washington this year.  I think Clayton Kershaw will step up and get a win against Max Scherzer in game 1, but Rich Hill has little to no playoff experience, as does Kenta Maeda who slowly looks like the MLB workload is wearing him down.  I’m still having a hard time envisioning Joe Blanton trotting out of the bullpen in critical late innings and succeeding, and the offense leaves more runners in scoring position than nearly every team in the playoffs.  I see nothing that makes me think the Dodger post season results will be any different than what we’ve seen 6 of the past 8 seasons.  Nationals in 4.

To the NFL, where the Rams went to Arizona and got a huge win over the Cardinals.  The Rams are now 3-1, and in first place in the NFC West.  I’m sure everyone saw this coming right?  It’s been all about the defense for this team, and an offense that is able to just muster enough points the last few weeks to find the win column.  Good thing that Brian Quick learned how to catch the football yesterday.  I thought they were going to find a way to lose the game when they took a couple of penalties in the last minute, but they pulled through.  I’ve gotta hand it to Case Keenum.  He knows that we’re all just waiting for him to give up the job to Jared Goff, but as long as the Rams keep winning, why make a change?  Besides, Goff is still trying to figure out what direction the sun rises in, so it might be a while before he can claim the job anyway.  There’s something about this team that has me skeptical that they can make the playoffs though.  Sometimes it isn’t who you play, but rather when you play them.  The Rams had the benefit of playing a talented team, but one that is in disarray.  Nevertheless, the Rams could easily be favored in the next three games they play against the Bills, Lions, and Giants.

Elsewhere around the NFL, we sent the Jaguars to London for a game against the Colts? We haven’t screwed England so hard since the Revolutionary War.  That was a rough loss, even by San Diego Charger standards.  They have blown massive leads in each of their three losses this season.  The Chiefs are going to use those terrible towels to hang themselves after the Steelers punished them last night.  The Cowboys are 3-1, and nobody is asking when Tony Romo and Dez Bryant are coming back.  The Broncos dominated the Bucs, and look like they found another stud quarterback in Paxton Lynch.  Can’t the Rams just find one?  The Falcons outlasted the Panthers, and the outcome was sealed when Cam Newton came out of the game with a concussion, forcing Derek Anderson to take his place.  That’s like going from a Lamborghini to a Big Wheel.  AJ Green practically beat the Dolphins by himself on Thursday night.  Roger Goodell got himself a good laugh when the Bills finally gave the Patriots a loss without Tom Brady.  The Lions had to be really disappointed that Jay Cutler didn’t play against them, or they might have actually beaten the Bears.  The Browns need to just call it quits for the year after losing to the Redskins.  The Raiders beat the Ravens on the road.  The Silver and Black haven’t been this fun to watch since Barrett Robbins was partying with hookers and blow in TJ during the Super Bowl.  The Seahawks are still excellent, while every time I see Ryan Fitzpatrick play I can’t help but laugh at the Jets for actually signing that scrub when he held out.  Marcus Mariota says the Titans “are close” after their loss to the Texans.  He must mean close to the worst team in the league.

To college football, where the Trojans got their fans to back away from the ledge with a big win over Arizona State on Saturday.  USC completely overwhelmed The Sun Devils with all their talent, and for the first time this season, it actually looked like Clay Helton executed a decent offensive game plan.  It was all about putting the ball in the hands of JuJu Smith-Schuster, who piled up 123 yards receiving and 3 touchdowns.  Sam Darnold also looked pretty damn good in his home debut, while Max Browne had to have been rolling his eyes on the sideline wondering why he didn’t get the chance to beat up on some crummy teams during his time as a starter.  USC’s talent was so far superior to Arizona State’s, you could hardly notice all the flaws in the Trojans offensive and defensive lines.  There’s no need for anybody to get fired right now, but you can be sure the Trojan brass is kicking the tires on what might be out there.  I’ve heard names ranging from David Shaw, Gary Patterson, Chris Peterson, Brian Kelly, and Bob Stoops, however, prying those big names from their current situations seems like a tall order, even if USC can pay more.  The coaching rumors figure to be a much bigger story the rest of the way than what actually happens on the field, since USC has already lost some of the biggest games on their schedule.


Over in Pasadena, it was the Bruins getting back in the win column when they took down Arizona.  If I didn’t know better, I’d say that was an actual running game UCLA showed us in the second half.  That sounds almost impossible given the fact they’ve had one of the worst running games in the nation over the first month of the season.  Josh Rosen also had one of his best games of the season,  playing turnover free football, racking up 350 yards to go along with 3 touchdowns, and 1 rushing touchdown.  This is still a relatively underachieving team, however, at least both of their losses came against very good top 10 teams.  Stanford may have gotten beat by Washington over the weekend, but the Huskies are now looking like a college football playoff contender.  As for Jim Mora, it’s pretty hard to criticize your players for being undisciplined when he himself lost his emotions, and cost his team a 15 yard penalty.  You never know with this UCLA team, but the Bruins should be able to bank a couple of wins in the next two weeks before they get stiff challenges in Utah and Colorado.

Elsewhere around college football, it was nice to see the Notre Dame Fighting Irish show up for their game against Syracuse.  The Irish defense was still pretty atrocious, but Deshone Kizer does look like one of the best quarterbacks in the nation.  After Stanford’s loss to Washington, their students hadn’t been that disappointed since learning that Princess Leia was a fictional character.  Florida State got upset by North Carolina.  FSU played that game like they really want Jimbo Fisher to take that LSU job.  As Jameis Winston would say, there was nothing skrong about Charlie Strong’s defense when Texas got slammed by Oklahoma State.  Cowboys’ wide receiver Terrance Williams probably thought Louisville wide receiver James Quick going out of bounds on the final play vs Clemson, before getting the first down, was a genius play.  I don’t know what was more amazing: Jourdan Lewis’ interception of the century in Michigan’s win over Wisconsin, or Tennessee’s hail mary to beat Georgia.  You decide for yourself.

The Angels quietly finished up their season yesterday with a win against the Astros.  Despite the horrendous year, and the dismal future, there’s a few key takeaways here.  Mike Trout is still the best player in baseball, and even though he won’t be the MVP this year, the Halos are definitely going to continue to reap the benefits of the best years of his career.  The idea of trading him is preposterous, mostly because they will never get equal value for him.  The Halos have also hit 3 million in attendance for 14 years in a row, which is a streak that is only matched by the Yankees.  There’s still a few things that can give fans hope for 2017.  Alex Meyer definitely showed some potential to be an impact big league starter, Jhouly’s Chacin had an ERA of 0.75 in his last four starts, and Garrett Richards is continuing to make strides toward being able to pitch next season.  Ricky Nolasco also had an ERA of 1.85 for the last month of the season.  The last month of baseball may have been meaningless, so you may not put much stock in these stats.  However, this is the cast of characters that the Halos 2017 season depends on to have any hope of being competitive.

To the NBA, where the Lakers wrapped up their Santa Barbara training camp portion of the preseason yesterday.  This is going to be a process.  However, I’m loving what I’m hearing from Luke Walton and the players so far.  There is definitely a new enthusiasm and energy surrounding this team that Walton is bringing, and you can sense the likes of D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram, and others really enjoying that new environment.  More importantly, that environment is all about player development, and getting as many of these young players to fulfill their potential as quickly as possible.  Those elements were not always in place in the last couple of years of Laker basketball.  I also really like how Mitch Kupchak did not come out and place any expectations as far as number of wins for the team, but rather just talked about wanting to see his young players improve with every game they play.  That may feel like an unusual approach for this franchise, but one that is very necessary at this point.

As for the Clippers, they wrapped up training camp on Saturday at UC Irvine, with a very nice open practice for their fans.  How many years have we been saying the Clippers are close? Well it’s been six to be exact, and they still haven’t made it out of the second round.  As usual, Doc Rivers shuffled the deck on his bench by adding players like Alan Anderson, Ray Felton, and Maurice Speights.  However, it feels like every year that bench looks improved and yet they fall flat on their face.  I’m not sure this year will be any different, but then again, it may not matter.  The Clippers still don’t have a good small forward, and they still can’t seem to meet the moment come spring time.  The talent is there, but I’m not sure the intangibles are.  Nevertheless, as long as Doc Rivers is in charge of basketball operations, I’m not even convinced that they will break up the CP3-Blake-DJ trio.  They all seem firmly rooted in LA, and even if they don’t every achieve anything, they could easily re-sign and continue to take their chances catching lightning in a bottle every year.  As for Blake Griffin, he looks healthy, and still has some explosiveness, which you can see from this dunk over Brice Johnson on Saturday.

Nice to see the U.S. finally get a Ryder Cup win over the weekend.  It was their first since 2008.  This is especially sweet for the U.S. considering that English writer Peter Willett, also the brother of Masters Champion, Danny Willett, has annually done some major trash talking in his writings.  Most recently, he wrote that the Americans were “fat, stupid, greedy, classless, bastards.”  I guess the real question for Willet is: You mad bro? Meanwhile, Ricky Fowler looks like that guy at last call who knows he’s going to have to settle for Del Taco instead of taking somebody home.


That first Presidential debate was unreal.  I was waiting for someone to just come out and say “Live from New York it’s Saturday Night Live!”  Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case and we were once again left with the reality of choosing between two candidates that are the equivalent of choosing what Browns quarterback you want starting on your fantasy team.  Imagine if you played a drinking game where you had to take a shot for every time Donald Trump held up his finger.  You would be dead in about 10 minutes.  In any case, despite what the polls say, I think come election day this is anybody’s race.

Finally, if you haven’t been to the Forum to see a concert, you need to do it.  I saw Blink 182 there on Friday night, and it was fantastic.  In fact, it’s probably a much better venue to see a concert than Staples Center or Microsoft Theatre, which is too large and drowns out the acoustics of any band.  Ironically, the Forum used to feel so big, however, now that we’ve all been introduced to these larger and more modern arena’s, it feels that much smaller.  That smaller arena is perfect for concert viewing.