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.