Monthly Archives: August 2020

Monday Morning Coffee

August 31, 2020

It’s been 8 years, and a wild last few days, but the Lakers are back in the 2nd round of the playoffs. Even though the Lake Show played game 5 like it was 5 pm at LA Fitness, they got the job done. They showed that they have the best defense and the best dynamic duo in the Association. I fully expect a showdown with the Rockets in the next round, in a battle of small ball vs big ball. That won’t be easy. As for the NBA’s social justice efforts, I respect the movement but I stand by what I said before. Playing and using their platform to advocate for change is more powerful than not playing. Not to mention the fact that not playing would result in disastrous financial consequences for players and the league. Police brutality and racial injustice are major issues in this country, but they aren’t going to be fixed overnight. They also aren’t going to be fixed by suddenly putting a new President in place in this country. I also truly wonder how many of these NBA owners are going to genuinely support the players causes, when in reality, many of them are historically very conservative. Even Betsy DeVos, the Magic Owners, is Trump’s Secretary of Education. It can create some sticky situations.

Meanwhile, the Clippers are also in the 2nd round of the playoffs after knocking off the Mavericks. The Clips lucked out a little bit that Luka Doncic was banged up, and that Kristaps Porzingas didn’t play for most of the series. They probably would have won anyway, but they can’t feel great about Paul George, who reverted back to his “Pandemic P” ways. PG played well in game 5, but was awful in very other game of the series, claiming that he was “in a dark place”. These dudes really go off the deep end without strippers I tell you. Then there was the reported confrontation Patrick Beverley had with NBAPA Executive Director, Michelle Roberts. According to Chris Haynes, Beverley reportedly told her to shut up because he pays her salary. If the NBA players were serious about social justice, they would have punished Beverley but forcing him to take a shower, which probably would have been his first since entering the bubble.

To baseball, where the Dodgers took 2 of 3 from the Rangers over the weekend, as we rapidly approach the trade deadline today. If there’s going to be a deal the Dodgers should make today, it’s sending a shipping container of Big League Chew to the Padres, in exchange for them burning those creepy mannequins they have in right field. In all seriousness though, if the Dodgers can get Josh Hader or Mike Clevinger without dismantling their farm system then great, otherwise they are fine as is. In fact, the Boys in Blue could be a lot better in the long run if they put Tony Gonsolin in their rotation permanently, let their starters go an extra inning or two to save their bullpen, and get some at-bats for young guys like Gavin Lux. As much as I make fun of Friedman for his exclusively analytics approach, he has the players and the tools he needs, he just need to know the right way to use them.

Then there’s the Angels. I think Billy Eppler has basically given up as GM. By trading Tommy LaStella, one of the teams best hitters, for a career .180 hitter, he’s given up hope on keeping his job. He also traded Jason Castro for a pitching prospect with a career ERA of 7.62. Even Arte Moreno admitted Eppler had a lot of work to do this year to return as GM next season. It sure doesn’t look like that work has been done. If Eppler received a bottle of hand sanitizer and a pack of toilet paper, he would have been in better shape than the return he got in this deals. The Halos have had Mike Trout for nearly a decade, yet they pretend like they are trying to win now by signing bargain base free agents that haven’t worked out. It hasn’t because their free agent pitchers have been extra awful, and they haven’t developed any pitching either. They don’t have the worst farm system in baseball, but in five years they are still near the bottom, while not having much to show for having the best player in baseball on their team. Now there’s talk of trading Dylan Buddy. Unless a plethora of young arms are coming back, I have no idea why the Angels would trade their best pitcher. Things are so bad in Anaheim, the cardboard cutouts are leaving by the 3rd inning.

I still cannot believe that the Pac-12 is going to sit out this football season and all fall sports, while three other conferences are going to play. How can the conference possibly look themselves in the mirror and admit to themselves that what they are doing is truly in the best interest of the athletes and the schools? I was willing to believe that it wasn’t safe for them until they were told they were allowed to practice. If athletes are allowed to practice then there is no reason they can’t play games. I feel especially terrible for the UCLA and USC athletes. Commissioner Larry Scott reportedly told every school that widespread testing was not available. Funny how it’s available in the Big 12, the ACC, and the SEC. What do you expect from the leader of a conference that is losing hundreds of millions of dollars in television money annually. With Scott’s rationale, one can only be left to wonder if this is simply a political decision. Either way, he can’t last much longer as the leader of the conference, it’s just a matter of what the damage will be when he’s gone.

We haven’t heard much about the Rams, even though they are on Hard Knocks. However, one thing is clear: there’s already signs that cutting Todd Gurley was a smart move. The talk in Atlanta is that Gurley is on a load management program. Gurley is like that really nice sports car you own with way too many miles on it, that keeps breaking down when you need it most. It looks great when it’s running, but it’s in the shop more than when it’s running. The Rams got the best years out of that sports car, so they shouldn’t be feeling too bad. In fact, they already have two interesting running backs to keep an eye on: Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson. Akers is already looking like a solid starter and somebody that’s going to be an impact player as a rookie. The division is going to be brutal, but the Rams did win 9 games last year, so they aren’t as bad as you might think.

As for the Chargers, they announced that they will not be allowing fans in Sofi Stadium for this season. They also followed this announcement by saying that this is not COVID related because they have no fans that come to their games anyway. Things are already trending the wrong way for the Bolts on the field though, as Safety Derwin James tore his meniscus in practice yesterday. Mike Williams is already out with an injury too. If there’s two things that are always symbolic of Charger Football, it’s injuries and choking late in games. The season hasn’t even started yet and the injuries have already kicked in. If the season gets away from the team quickly, it’s only a matter of time before Justin Herbert gets the starting job.

Monday Morning Coffee

August 24, 2020

I like it much better when “Playoff Lebron” is playing on the Lakers. We finally saw that on Saturday night, and suddenly things are looking up for the Lakers. Sure there’s still some concern. Sometimes it feels like this team couldn’t hit a 3, even if they ran into Khole Kardashian at happy hour. Rajon Rondo also needs to be put in bubble wrap to stay healthy. However, their defense isn’t just good, it’s elite. They have held the Blazers to a measly 40% shooting in the series, which is crazy considering how hot they were coming in. Lebron didn’t even break a sweat in a game 2 blowout, and Anthony Davis has looked great in the last two games. The Blazers aren’t done yet, but they look exhausted. This series certainly is not over, but if there’s one thing Laker fans can feel better about it’s that their defense is going to give them a fighting chance against everybody.

Meanwhile, the Clippers find themselves locked up in a 2-2 series with the Mavs. Luka Doncic is becoming a star overnight, and he’s making this series far more interesting than most of us thought. The biggest problem for the Clippers right now though is that “Playoff P” is becoming “Pandemic P”. In fact, I’m not even sure the “P” stands for Paul anymore. Dude is shooting 25% in this series. When Anthony Davis has one bad half of basketball, all hell breaks loose on Twitter. When Paul George puts together 3 straight awful performances, people just say he might need to play better. This also explains why he didn’t want to play for the Lakers. He just didn’t want the scrutiny or the accountability in the big moments. I’m not convinced yet the Clips are going to lose this series, but their lack of on court time together, and their perception that they can just “turn it on” is making life very difficult for them. It’s even more of a problem because the Mavs are becoming even more confident.

To baseball where the Dodgers are just dominating. They have the best record in the baseball, and have a 4 game lead in the NL West. They have so many good young arms, they can’t even find a way to fit Tony Gonsolin in their rotation, or even find a way to get Gavin Lux in the lineup, who is their best prospect. That’s all great, but I’m still not without concern. Come October, I don’t want to see Clayton Kershaw or Kenley Jansen put in situations to fail. That means I don’t want Kershaw in a highly leveraged situation in the 7th or 8th inning when he’s thrown a lot of pitches. I don’t want Jansen going for 9-out saves. The Dodgers have a real bullpen and real pitchers behind those two. If they don’t, then you’ve been lying to us and to yourself Andrew Friedman. Only time will tell if this is true, because that’s been the case nearly every October for the last seven years with this team.

Then there’s the Angels. I’ve been thinking their best strategy is to just fake COVID infections and quit on the season. The Halos have the worst record in the American League. Their pitching staff has the 5th worst ERA in baseball. They are also in the bottom third of the league in hitting. I realize the Angels aren’t great, but I would expect them to beat up on the Giants and not make their offense look like Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent were still on the team. On one hand I’d like to suggest the the Angels just start tanking. However, they don’t need to. They are bad enough to try to win, and still lose a lot of games. That’s just sad.

Happy Mamba Day everyone! I hope you’re all planning on crumpling up pieces of paper and throwing them in the trash while yelling “KOBE!” Sometimes it’s the little things like that that make a person’s legacy. Kobe’s only been gone since January, and it feels like something that we’ll just never get over. His inspiration will just life on forever though.

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Monday Morning Coffee

August 17, 2020

It’s playoff time! As many of you feared, the Lakers are going to be matching up with the Blazers in the 1st round of the playoffs starting Tuesday night. You shouldn’t be fearful though. The Blazers might be hot, but they have been playing defense like every team they play against has COVID. Anthony Davis should look like Shaquille O’Neal playing against 7th graders in this series. This isn’t going to be a a sweep, or even an easy series by any means, but the Lakers should win. The Blazers are also the perfect opponent to prepare them for tough opponents beyond that like OKC, Houston, or the Clippers. Also, after two years, my expectation is that you will finally see “Playoff Lebron”, and it’s going to be spectacular.

As for the Clippers, they will take on the Mavericks in round 1. Dallas has a nice team, but this one is going to be hard to see the Clips losing. This series is also kind of awkard. Doc Rivers will be coaching against his new son-in-law, Seth Curry. I’m pretty sure his daughter wants her husband’s team to wipe the floor with her dad’s team. Doc probably doesn’t see this as awkward since he traded his own son to the Rockets, and then traded for Paul George, who cheated on his daughter. In reality, the Clippers might actually have more drama behind the scenes than an episode of Jerry Springer. However, they are just the Clippers and nobody talks about them unless they want to disparage the Lakers somehow.

To baseball, where the Dodgers swept the Angels over the weekend during a 3-game set in Anaheim. They are starting to pull away in the NL West. Then there’s Joe Kelly, who just earned some more equity with Dodger fans. He called the Astros “snitches” and “little bitches” over their cheating scandal, on a podcast last week. In case you’re wondering about the Astros, they are hovering around the .500 mark, while Jose Altuve and George Springer hover below .200 at the plate. I guess that’s what happens when you cheat for years, then have to play for real. The A’s had “The Smash Brothers”, while the Astros now have “The Trash Brothers”. Getting back to the Dodgers, they enter the week with a 2 game lead in the NL West. Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy are coming around, but it’s been a slow start. That’s how stacked their lineup has been. On the pitching side, great to see Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen looking elite again, but not so sure what’s going on with Walker Buehler. He still has great stuff, but is making too many mistakes. Speaking of mistakes though, this graphic about the Dodgers schedule probably could have been made a little more family friendly!

Meanwhile, it’s already looking like a lost season for the Angels. They are near the bottom of the AL West, and much closer to the very bottom than sneaking into the playoffs. Let me put that in perspective for you. The Angels have the best player in baseball, and they have only made the playoffs with him once in 9 full season of him on the team. This year, they probably won’t even get in the postseason with half of the teams in the league getting in. That’s just madness, and downright baseball malpractice. About the only thing the Angels do well is hit home runs. They are near the bottom of the AL in batting average, they strikeout more than Urkel in high school, and their pitching is hot garbage. It’s also hard to win when you have 3 of your highest 4 paid players are hitting under .200. The Halos might as well pack it in and go wait outside Disneyland for the reopening.

If Chip Kelly and Clay Helton go winless this year, do they still get fired? Asking for a friend? In all seriousness though, the PAC-12 and Big 10 pulling out the College Football Season is a huge problem for the future of their conference athletics. I don’t know if the right thing to do is to play or not. However, I do think it makes no sense for three other conferences to say they are going to play, and two others to say no. How can the medical experts not agree on the information? I hear the argument that the PAC-12 and the Big 10 aren’t willing to take the liability risk, but why are three other conferences willing to take that risk? I can only believe that some of this is politically driven, even from the medical side, which is sad. We can all admit that football is the golden ticket because it pays for all the other sports on campus. Student athletes are treated differently anyway, so why not create athletic bubbles within your campus for a couple of months? That bubble can include other sports too. It’s worked in the NBA and the NHL, so surely it can work on a College Campus where world class medicine exists. This would be possible if the leadership were better, and the NCAA actually did something, but unfortunately, that’s not the situation. It’s terrible for the kids. It’s also going to crush the PAC 12 and Big 10 from recruiting and being successful conferences in the short and long-term.

Finally, poor Darren Rovell is getting beat up on by everyone these days. The sports business analyst for the Action Network keeps getting crushed by Fox Sports’ Clay Travis on a daily basis. Clay has not only referred to Rovell as a “Corona Bro” for not wanting to play sports or come out of his basement until there is a vaccine, but even described Rovell as “on the Sports Mount Rushmore of Corona Bros.” I love both these guys, but Clay has been relentless in making fun of Rovell. As if that wasn’t tough enough for Rovell to deal with, now he’s got Johnny Manziel throwing ruthless barbs at him on Twitter too. If this keeps up you can add Rovell’s Twitter account to the list of casualties in 2020.

Monday Morning Coffee

August 10, 2020

The Lakers clinched the West last week, and then proceeded to relax. Then after playing a couple of games like they were just out for some cardio at 24 Hour Fitness, the rest of you started panicking or thinking they weren’t really that good. Relax people. The Lakers can treat these games as exhibitions. It was only a week ago that they were playing really well, and beating really good teams like Utah and the Clippers. The Lakers actually played pretty well against Indiana, but toyed with their regular rotation more than usual. Lebron didn’t even play against Houston, and they clearly played like they didn’t care against OKC. Don’t get me wrong, if they have to go through Portland, Houston, and the Clippers just to get to the Finals, that’s a tough road. However, let’s not pretend like they shouldn’t be expected to win at least those first two rounds, if not win the whole thing. The bottom line is that I fully expect to see a much better Laker team a week from now when the playoffs start.

Meanwhile, the Clippers have mailed in some meaningless games of their own in the bubble. Are people worried about them too? I mean that’s how this works right? Oh that’s right Paul George didn’t play yesterday. Neither did Lebron on Thursday, when the Lakers lost to Houston. I guess people only care about Lebron and the Lakers. That’s the luxury of being a team that nobody cares about in the city of LA. The Clips have the talent to be there in the end, but the one thing everybody is overlooking is their chemistry. They haven’t had the time to build it, and the fact they keep getting guys in and out of the lineup means they still aren’t building it. Then there’s the very amusing back and forth between Damian Lillard and Paul George. Lillard eliminated Paul George and the Thunder last year, and basically called him a punk for changing teams where he has much less accountability. It’s funny because George thinks he’s Lillard. He’s far from it.

On to baseball where the Dodgers took 2 out of 3 from those Silicon Valley Snobs, the San Francisco Giants. The Boys in Blue have won 9 of their last 12, and have the third best record in baseball in this bizarre season. However, I will never understand those of you so called “Dodger fans” that root against Clayton Kershaw, and call him a choker. If Kershaw retired today, he would be one of the 5-10 greatest pitchers this game has ever seen. This isn’t the NBA, playoff success doesn’t factor into your legacy in baseball. This man is so great, that in a down year last year, he was better than 90% of baseball pitchers. When you suck, you get fired from your job. When Clayton Kershaw sucks, he’s still better than 90% of his competition. Not to mention the fact the guy is just such a good dude, how can you want him to fail? The Dodgers are good enough to not have to put all their success on him, but they need to make sure they put him in positions to succeed and not fail because of that. Saturday was a bad start, but every pitcher has those. On another note, the A’s and Astros had a huge brawl on Saturday. I’m sure this means Rob Manfred will suspend Dave Roberts for the season, and give Joe Kelly the death penalty.

As for the Angels, they stink. They have the worst record in the American League after getting swept by the Rangers, and they can’t do anything right. They have 6 guys that regularly see playing time in their lineup that are hitting under .200. I’m talking about dudes that are making enough money to buy a small country like Anthony Rendon, Albert Pujols, Justin Upton, and Shohei Ohtani. As if that’s not unacceptable enough, they are lucky if they can get a pitcher to go 5 innings these days. Dylan Bundy has been great, but you have no idea what you will get out of Andrew Heaney, Griffin Canning, or any of the little leaguers on the pitching staff behind them. At least they brought up Jo Adell to get some experience. It’s been a slow start for him, but it’s nice to see him giving a tribute to Jose Conseco with this bonehead play he made yesterday.

I’ve got bad news for you USC and UCLA football fans. You will likely have your head football coaches for the next two years. By the time you finish reading Monday Morning Coffee, it is likely that the entire College Football Season will be postponed, if not cancelled. That’s a shame, and it falls on the extremely poor leadership by the NCAA. This is going to devastate athletic departments around the country. It’s also going to devastate the fan bases of UCLA and USC who would give anything right now just to see Clay Helton and Chip Kelly fired. UCLA ran up a huge deficit in their athletic department. Now not having football is going to devastate that deficit even more. This program is quickly turning into the Lehman Brothers of college sports. I feel terrible for all the athletes that are going to suffer from this. I’m not sure what this means for ‘Bama though. Do they still have to pay their players under the table if the season is cancelled? I’m sure these Presidents would love to play football because it makes money, but if they did, they have no plausible deniability anymore in pretending like these kids are “amateur athletes” that shouldn’t get paid.

Finally, Shark Week 2020 is here! This is one week of television on Discovery that I have loved for decades. It’s also especially nice to get it during all the craziness going on in the world. However, I don’t need all these celebrity cameo appearances to enhance the experience for me. This isn’t Entourage, it’s Shark Week. I can appreciate the programs without seeing Mike Tyson, or Shaq. Besides, hasn’t anybody told Discovery that Black Lives Matter? Probably not a good message to send putting black people in the water with Sharks. In all seriousness though, I’m glad Discovery has gotten away from the sensationalizing of Shark attacks, and demonizing them like they did a fear years ago. It’s more factual, interesting, and exciting to watch now. As for Tyson, this guy gets in the water with Sharks, and now everybody thinks he’s ready to get back in the ring.

Monday Morning Coffee

August 3, 2020

Laker basketball is finally back! It’s been a mixed bag for the first two games, but let’s be honest, there’s a lot more to feel good about than bad about. They beat the Clippers for the 2nd straight time they met, their defense clamped down when it mattered, and Lebron had a huge 4th quarter. For those that want to point out that the Clippers were without Montrezl Harrell and “Lemon Pepper” Lou Williams, keep in mind that there is only one ball. The Clips had trouble sharing it in March, when the Lakers won by 9, and both teams were at full strength. The loss against the Raptors was a loss against a championship contending team, where the Lakers just didn’t make open shots. The Laker schedule is brutal for these 8 games. Who’s on the schedule next week….the ’86 Celtics and the ’96 Bulls? At least these games will get the Lakers ready for playoff basketball. They just need to start making some 3-point shots. These 8 games will also give J.R. Smith the chance to learn who his new teammates are. He’s probably wondering when the team signed Larry Bird.

Meanwhile, the Clippers followed up their loss against the Lakers with a massive win against the Pelicans. Tough blow for New Orleans, but at least Zion will be well rested for the off-season. Imagine how disappointed Kawhi must be when his team wins while making 25 three-point shots, and then he can’t actually celebrate with strippers. The Clippers are still really good, and will end up with either the #2 or #3 seed, but their chemistry is still a work in progress. They also look like a team that sometimes plays with the effort of a team that is in year 3 of a championship dynasty, when they have yet to win anything yet. That’s a dangerous attitude for a team to play with around this time of year. Nevertheless, they should be getting Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell back soon to try and build on that chemistry.

The Dodgers are rolling again after taking 3 of 4 against the D’Backs, and sweeping the Astros. It was also nice to see Clayton Kershaw looking good and throwing hard in his season debut. I’m highly annoyed that Joe Kelly was suspended though. Only Rob Manfred is dumb enough to give Kelly a greater punishment than the Astros’ players that actually cheated the game. To me, Kelly performed in the sweet spot of hotheaded enough to make you think he’s throwing at the Astros, and erratic enough to think he couldn’t hit hit water if he fell out of a boat. After all, he wasn’t even ejected from the game or warned, and baseball is a sport that has historically been about vigilante justice. Why would the Astros be surprised at Kelly’s pitches? They cheat so they always know what’s coming anyway. As far as I’m concerned, Kelly should get a statue in front of Dodger stadium, with an engraving in front of it that says “nice swing bitch.” The man is a Dodger legend, even if he sucks for the rest of his time with the club.

Speaking of Rob Manfred, his incompetence knows no bounds. The Marlins are about to take down the entire season by themselves, and Manfred almost blew it letting the Phililes and Marlins play against each other before finding out more information. The man also has 0 PR skills, after saying “there is no reason” to quit on the season. Apparently somebody dying or ruining their career over the coronavirus isn’t enough of a reason. Then he lead the way on these ridiculous in-season rule changes like expanded playoffs, 7-inning double headers, and putting a runner at 2nd base in extra innings. With all the postponements and rescheduling, the MLB schedule is just a sign-up sheet on the door of a rec center. Games might as well be to seven, shirts and skins, winner keeps the field. Can we get a baseball commissioner that actually knows what he’s doing?

Meanwhile, the Angels still have the same issues they’ve had the last two years. No pitching, and a knack for leaving runners in scoring position. One week in and they already have the worst record in the AL. The Halos desperately need Shohei Ohtani to be an ace. Instead, he looks more like a joker, sporting an ERA of over 37 in less than 2 innings of work this season in two different starts. Now it sounds like his arm is going to fall off again. I know everybody wants to rag on the Halo’s bullpen, but the team is lucky if they can get 5 innings from their starters. Getting Mike Trout back this week will help, but half the league is going to make the playoffs this year, yet it feels like the Angels are going to be eliminated from the race in the next week. This team needs a shot in the arm ASAP. The only way I see that coming is by calling up Jo Adell and giving him some at-bats. That’s too hard for these small minded GM’s who only seem to care about MLB service time though.

NFL training camps are about to open, and the Chargers made some big news last week. They signed Joey Bosa to a massive $135 million extension, with $102 million guaranteed. The Chargers are notoriously cheap, and don’t pay anybody they really need to. So the one time they do actually pay somebody, it comes at the worst time. They tied up a whole bunch of money in Bosa when they had at least another year to pay him, and when the salary cap could come down by $20-$30 million due to the Coronavirus and not having fans in the stands. Just when you think the Chargers are becoming a different organization, they really are just the same old Chargers. On the bright side, the games without fans this year won’t look any different than they normally do, because the Chargers don’t get any fans to come to their games anyway.

Finally, this story about the PAC-12 players making demands is ridiculous. They’ve only got 12 players attaching their names to these demands, which include a split of revenue with the conference. While I completely understand that the NCAA is all about exploiting athletes and is super corrupt, the idea of making these demands in the middle of a pandemic is absurd. You’re asking to share revenue in a year where a good portion of that money just to pay your scholarships won’t even be there? This is why kids need to stay in school longer folks. I can sympathize with their demand of letting players opt out for health reasons while keeping their scholarship and having an extra year of eligibility, as well as more stringent health and safety protocols, but that’s the extent of what it should be. By the way, ever notice that these demands never come from SEC players? That’s because they are already getting money hand shakes from boosters and other dirty dealers. If the PAC-12 caved into these demands anyway, they would no longer be affiliated with the NCAA, which would only put them further behind in relevance compared to other conferences.