Monthly Archives: October 2017

Monday Morning Coffee

October 16, 2017

The Dodgers did what they absolutely had to do.  They won their first two home games of the NLCS.  With the next three in Chicago, the Dodgers will be fortunate just to win one, and that would be perfectly fine.  However, with Corey Seager out of the lineup for the series, the Dodgers are suddenly hitting like little leaguers.  Losing Seager means we’re going to see more of Curtis Granderson and Joc Pederson, both of whom are just terrible.  The Dodgers left so many runners in scoring position last night, it would make any fan want to throw furniture across their living room.  The pitching has held up for LA, but this series is far from over.  The Cubs have been the best team in baseball during the 2nd half of the season.   The Cubs also have some big game pitchers that may not have performed well during the regular season, but that have the ability to come up big in October.  However, with Yasiel Puig doing his best Hank Aaron impression, and Justin Turner providing the heroics, it’s hard not to like the Dodgers’ chances of getting to the World Series.  Beating Houston without Corey Seager though is another story.

The Rams not only won on the road yesterday, but their defense even made a “special celebrity guest appearance.”  This team isn’t going away.  The Rams are making us look foolish for doubting them, and suddenly, the NFC West is in more trouble than Harvey Weinstein.  Jared Goff didn’t exactly set the world on fire, but he didn’t turn the ball over, and Todd Gurley continued to be productive on the ground.  I’m still baffled at why the Rams acquired Sammy Watkins.  If the team had no plans to use him, then why give up the draft pick they did for him? I think they should consider moving him at the trade deadline to get a draft pick back, since Watkins is serving as nothing more than a human pylon right now.  The Rams next game against Arizona, in London, is going to be another tough one, but there’s no reason to think they can’t find the win column again if they play solid football like they have been.

Meanwhile, the Chargers and Raiders engaged in a riveting battle for the 9th and 10th pick in this year’s NFL draft in Oakland.  I like how the league decided they would rather both teams suffer lung damage than face the embarrassment of playing a game in San Diego.  The Chargers two wins have come against one of the worst teams in the NFL, and a Raider team that is sinking like the Titanic.  I think the Chargers are also starting to wish they could play on the road every week, because they probably have just about as many fans in that stadium as they do during their usual home games.

Elsewhere around the NFL, the Packers can kiss their Super Bowl hopes goodbye after Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone.  They would probably sign Bart Starr before signing Colin Kaepernick.  The Saints and Lions game was the equivalent of a Charlie Sheen cocaine bender.  Adrian Peterson rose from the dead for Arizona and pretended like it was 2009, leading the Cardinals to a win.  The Browns only choice is contraction after losing again.  Even though the Patriots beat the Jets, Bill Belichick is debating how many players he’s going to trade to the Browns for 2084 7th round picks after nearly losing.  The Dolphins not only defeated the Falcons, but Kiko Alonso found love……

The Trojan football team “won” on Saturday against Utah, but it may actually hurt them in the polls.  That first half was sloppier than a Thursday night on fraternity row.   Another totally undisciplined performance filled with three  turnovers was salvaged by the heroics of Sam Darnold and Ronald Jones III.  If you played a drinking game where you had to take a shot for every time it was 3rd and 10 for the Trojans, you would be dead by the 3rd quarter.  Darnold needs to go to the NFL and take Tee Martin with him.  The Trojans should win the Pac 12 South, but it’s hard to have much confidence in them winning anything meaningful beyond that at this point.

I’ve gotta hand it to UCLA football.  Just when you think they can’t embarrass themselves anymore, they find a way to take it to a new level.  This time getting dominated by Arizona, giving up 457 yards on the ground.  I guess now that classes have started since UCLA is on the quarter system, not only does the performance of the student athlete suffer, but apparently so does that of the defensive coordinator. The Bruins can’t even block and tackle anymore, two of the basics that Jim Mora assured us would be elite when building the program.  Mora has had every opportunity to keep his job in a Pac 12 South that is far more average than we thought, but can’t turn the season around.  I’m not even convinced that Dan Guerrero cares, but he should get an ear full from angry alums.

Speaking of embarrassments, the US failed to qualify for the World Cup last week after their loss to Trinidad & Tobago.  There’s about 4 million Americans who are going to pretend like they are outraged and then forget about it for the next 4 years.  Those 4 million people are also probably confused at how we lost to “both” Trinidad and Tabago at the same time.  So much for building on the success of the last World Cup.  We just don’t care to invest what other countries do in soccer, and we should be ok with it.  Taylor Twellman on the other hand is going to have an aneurysm over the whole thing….

We’re just a couple of days away from the NBA season.  Spoiler alert! The Warriors are going to win the title again.  There is some hope for the Lakers though.  That’s because “Kuzmania” is taking over.  I do think Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball will help the Lakers get a lot closer to the playoffs this year, but not actually in the postseason.  If the Lakers can win 35-40 games this year with a strong showing from those three players, they will be a viable destination for next summer’s top free agents.   That’s truly the best they can hope for because the Lakers have no 1st round pick this season, and they are putting all their eggs in that free agent basket.  Luke Walton did say he was undecided on the starting lineup.  Hopefully he’s not undecided on his team playing defense because judging from the preseason, there isn’t much of it being played.

Then there’s the Clippers, who seem to be convinced they have a playoff team.  The only playoffs this team will be seeing will be in their living rooms come April.  Blake Griffin, Danilo Gallinari, and DeAndre Jordan sound like an intriguing front court duo.  They’ll only be intriguing if they can all stay healthy, and that’s doubtful for Danilo and Blake.  There’s a lot of whispers about how good of a coach Doc Rivers really is, and whether the Clippers have constructed any kind of real organizational success.  Now that CP3 is gone, we’ll find out real soon if that is the case, or if the Clippers are still gonna clip.

 

Monday Morning Coffee

October 9, 2017

You didn’t actually think that I wouldn’t complain about the Dodgers, despite taking a 2-0 lead against the D’Backs did you? Ok fine, I can’t overlook the positive.  The Dodgers are hitting like we haven’t seen them do before in the postseason.  Cody Bellinger hasn’t even done much, and the offense is still scoring more than high schoolers do on prom night.  Then there’s Yasiel Puig, who has suddenly matured and harnessed his talent into a game-changing player.  His teammates actually like him now too.  However, I still don’t trust the bullpen.  I also don’t trust Dave Roberts to use his head and actually take Clayton Kershaw out of the game after six innings.  Apparently nobody told him Kershaw has an ERA of over 25.00 in the 7th and beyond.  Imagine how much different the playoff narrative of Kershaw would be if Kershaw was actually removed after six innings? I expect the Dodgers to close out the D’Backs early next week, but the questionable decision making and untrustworthy middle relief leave me skeptical.

Yesterday it felt like Jeff Fisher was coaching the Rams again.  The offense was a turnover machine, Todd Gurley was bottled up, and the defense was on the field way too long.  What happened to Sammy Watkins? He has disappeared like the fans at the Coliseum.  Wasn’t he supposed to stretch the field? There goes another draft pick.  How did Cooper Kupp drop that pass?  That’s one he’s gotta catch, and it totally changes the narrative.  The Rams now have to go back east to play the Jags next week, which suddenly looks like a very tough game.  The Seahawks are still the class of the NFC West, and the Rams may suddenly be facing a losing skid, reminiscent of last season.  Buckle up for the bumpy ride.

Meanwhile, you know what Chick-Fil-A and the Giants have in common? They both don’t show up on Sunday.  The Chargers took advantage of that and finally got their first victory as the LA Chargers.  I feel terrible for OBJ, who was making some huge plays for the G-Men before he went down.  This is apparently what it’s going to take for the Bolts to actually find the win column.  Broken ankles from the opponents best players.  The solution for the Chargers may just be playing every game on the road because playing at home seems to be an even more hostile environment with 27,000 of the opponents’ fans.  The road game might even help next week against a struggling Raiders team, which has massively underperformed.

As for the rest of week 5 in the NFL, the Cowboys shouldn’t be kneeling for the national anthem, but instead should be kneeling when Aaron Rodgers walks by them, after his Packers beat Dallas in the final minute.  The Steeler fans are going to use their terrible towels to wipe away their tears after losing to the Jaguars.  I think VP Mike Pence realized he would have been far more offended watching the 49ers and Colts rather than the players actually kneeling, which is why he really left the game early.  I guess Cam Newton’s kryptonite is not angry female journalists because he led the Panthers over the Lions.  The CIA plans on using the Browns and Jets game film as a method of torturing terrorists.  The Eagles hammered the Cardinals, and it looks like they’ll have to start walking Torrey Smith intentionally…..

To college football where the tune of Trojan fans has changed overnight.  Prior to the Washington State loss, USC fans were purchasing tickets to the College Football Playoff game.  Now they are probably listing those tickets on StubHub, especially after an underwhelming victory over Oregon State.  The Trojans had three turnovers against the Beavers, yet they won by 28 points.  If they have three turnovers against Utah, Notre Dame, or UCLA, they will get crushed.  #3 Oklahoma lost, which seems like a golden opportunity, but USC just isn’t that good, and is likely to get exposed in the coming weeks.  Even the great Sam Darnold can only be so great when his offensive line can’t protect him, but there could be a bigger problem than than.  The question arising is whether or not coach Clay Helton is actually building anything meaningful.  We might find out in the next few weeks.

Elsewhere around the college game, Oklahoma has developed a bold new strategy.  This year they figure they can’t actually blow it in a playoff game if they don’t actually make the playoffs.  I guess that’s why they lost to Iowa State.  Notre Dame is up to 5-1 after beating UNC, but the Irish faithful are probably disappointed because Brian Kelly is getting closer to a contract extension than being fired.  As for the latest AP rankings: 1. Alabama 2. Clemson 3. A  4. Bunch 5. Of 6. Teams 7. With 8. No 9. Chance.

I’m not big on preseason games for any sport.  However, if I knew nothing about basketball (like many NBA GM’s), and began watching the Lakers first two preseason games, I’d say that Kyle Kuzma is easily the Lakers’ best player.  It’s only a matter of time before Kuzma is inserted into the starting lineup, likely in place of Julius Randle.  Luke Walton is trying to emulate Golden State’s system, which is pretty difficult to do if you don’t have shooting.  Kuzma gives the team shooting and versatility.  However, the real concern right now is the durability of Lonzo Ball, who’s ankles are about  as stable as the Knicks front office.  The Lakers need to hope Kuzma, Ball, and Brandon Ingram make major strides this year, or their plan to attract big free agents next summer will be obliterated.

Speaking of Lonzo Ball, his father Lavar was back in the news last week.  Lavar said he is going to pull LaMelo Ball out of school, and home school him for his final two years of high school.  Lavar said this is simply because he doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the new head coach at Chino Hills.  I’ve been a big believer in what Lavar is doing to create a brand, but home schooling your kids in the last two years of high school is one of the most short-sighted things I’ve ever heard of.  What most people fail to realize is that going to school (and college as well) is about learning about yourself and building social skills, not just education.  I can’t say I would expect Lavar to understand this though.

UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero rewarded basketball head coach Steve Alford with a one-year extension last week.  This one isn’t going to sit well with the Bruins fans.  It was only 18 months ago that people were questioning whether or not Alford was the guy to lead the program back to the Final Four.  However, the extension for Alford and the continued support for football coach Jim Mora are more a reflection of the financial limitations at UCLA.  The Bruin athletic program simply isn’t going to pony up the big dollars for big-time coaches, even for basketball, their profile sport.  As long as Dan Guerrero is in charge, which will probably be for at least a couple of more years, I wouldn’t expect any bold “shoot for the moon” changes in the athletic program.

Finally, the NHL got their season underway last week which is always exciting.  After Saturday’s nights’ Kings win over San Jose, I can’t decide if this is a new and improved Kings team, or the same old San Jose Sharks.  In any case, it’s nice to see Anze Kopitar actually scoring some goals.  The last time that happened, we actually had a President who wasn’t crazy.  Meanwhile, the Ducks allegedly started their season on Thursday night too.  You wouldn’t be able to tell though, because it looks like Anaheim doesn’t plan on showing up until the 2nd half of the season like last year.

 

 

 

Monday Morning Coffee

October 2, 2017

Wow, USC is involved in another corruption scandal.  Who could have seen this coming? This is about as surprising as Donald Trump insulting somebody.  Assistant basketball coach Tony Bland is the culprit this time.  On the bright side, this makes him an excellent candidate to be the Dean of the medical school, which is facing a scandal of its own.  The corruption at USC is still at comedic levels a decade after the Reggie Bush and OJ Mayo violations, even after installing new leadership.   However, the NCAA either needs to abolish their archaic rules and start paying student-athletes, or make these violations punishable by criminal law.  I’m in favor of the former.

Speaking of the Trojans, on the field their sloppy play finally caught up with them.  You would have thought that USC had Jesus Christ playing quarterback, the way everyone was talking about Sam Darnold.  The Trojans could not convert a 3rd down to save their lives, and their offense is highly dependent on one or two explosive plays.  That’s not good enough against a quality Top 15 opponent like the Cougars.   I’m sure the story will be how much the injuries have hurt the team with no bye weeks, but this team looked questionable prior to being banged up.  I can easily see a couple of more losses with this erratic group.

Meanwhile, the Bruins earned an underwhelming victory at Colorado.  UCLA football success has been reduced to victories over mediocre programs in which they avoid embarrassment.  This game was more of the same, characterized by hero ball from Josh Rosen, and a running game that has disappeared like Hilary Clinton.  What’s very telling is that UCLA recruits three and four star players, while San Diego State takes the leftovers.  That San Diego State team held Stanford to 17 points, while UCLA gave up 58 to them.  This is all about coaching and it’s becoming more and more obvious that Jim Mora is the problem.

Elsewhere around college football, Notre Dame beat fake Miami (Ohio) over the weekend, which isn’t much to get excited about.  The Irish still can’t figure things out when they face anybody ranked in the top 10.  Meawhile, here’s an updated look at the rest of the college footballs rankings: 1. Alabama 2. Alabama’s backups 3. Alabama’s cheerleaders 4. Alabama’s practice squad 5. Clemson.

To the NFL, where I completely expected the Rams to get crushed like a grape against the Cowboys yesterday, but they proved me wrong.  I thought the Rams could only win when they played the 49ers on Thursday night with those pajamas they wore last week.  Instead, Todd Gurley looks like one of the best running backs in the NFL, and Jared Goff is finally commanding respect from defenses.  In fact, Gurley faced 6 or fewer defenders in the box on 16 of his 23 rushing attempts.  Goff isn’t Tom Brady or Aaron Rogers, but he’s not turning the ball over and making sound decisions.  The Cowboys are a great team and the Rams deserve credit, but they did start 3-1 last season.  I wouldn’t even be surprised if they took down Seattle next week, but I’m not exactly ready to call them the class of the NFC yet.

If the Chargers lose at home, but no Charger fans were actually there to see it, did it actually happen? The Bolts are 0-4, and their five fans are obviously very disappointed with their start.  As usual, Stubhub Center was filled with Eagles fans, and many of the best seats in the house were completely empty.  The Bolts look like a team loaded with talent, but they consistently come up short on offense, and are terrible at finishing games.  That was once again the case yesterday.  It’s not all bad news for the Chargers though.  First of all they get to play Eli Manning and the Giants next week, who are just as terrible.  They can look forward to seeing Eli have that “somebody shot my dog” look on his face with a victory.  There’s also the idea that if they keep losing, this is an excellent year to get a high draft pick and draft a successor to Philip Rivers.

As for the rest of week 4 in the NFL, the Saints and Dolphins game in London was so atrocious, England is considering declaring war on the United States after such an act of terror.  The Jets won a game and since they are supposed to be tanking, Todd Bowles will likely be fired after collecting two wins.  Only the Browns could make the Bengals look like a Super Bowl team.  If you threw something in the trash yesterday, you probably racked up more passing yards than Joe Flacco.  The Raiders suck again.  The Bills are 3-1 and the Lions look like one of the best teams in the NFL, so hell must have frozen over.  Matt Ryan should never ever play receiver again……

The Dodgers begin the playoffs on Friday, and Dave Roberts claims he’s not intending to use Clayton Kershaw on short rest.  That’s like going to a strip club and claiming your intention isn’t to get a lap dance.   The Dodgers claim they have pitching depth but we know they will use Kershaw on short rest, which hasn’t worked in the past.  October also means we can expect guys like Pedro Baez to blow games in the 7th and 8th, and for Kenley Jansen to be forced into ridiculous six-out save situations because the Dodgers don’t have any competent middle relievers.  These are the nightmares of recent postseasons that have haunted LA, and are sure to haunt them again.

Then there’s the Angels, who missed the playoffs again.  This is a good time to look back at Albert Pujols saying that he’s not concerned with the standings in April, but rather in September.   Maybe if Albert decided to show up in April and start earning his $240 million, the Halos might have enough wins to actually be in the postseason.   Everyone knows a win in April is one less you need in September.  Everyone except Albert and Mike Scioscia.

The Lakers started the preseason on Saturday against the Wolves, but they got some severely disappointing news on Friday.  Russell Westbrook signed a 5-year extension with the Thunder.  Westbrook will likely go on a massive shopping spree at Hot Topic with his $205 million but there’s greater repercussions than that.  That not only eliminates him as a potential free agent acquisition, but also hurts the Lakers’ chances of signing Lebron James and Paul George.   This is just another example of why free agency by itself is a horrible way to build a team.  It’s also an example of why it isn’t the best idea to give away young productive players like D’Angelo Russell for half a can of Diet Coke.

Finally, Hugh Hefner passed away at 91 last week.  Has there ever been anybody who has had more fun in life than Hef? Every man in America could only dream of living a life like that.   It was so fun, when he gets to heaven, he will wonder why it’s such a downgrade.