Monthly Archives: April 2021

Monday Morning Coffee

April 26, 2021

The Lakers are getting healthy. Anthony Davis is back and Lebron James is on the way, but now they have other problems to fix. Anthony Davis is so rusty, he might need a tetanus shot just to remember how to play basketball. Marc Gasol is also now taking a passive aggressive, “high school drama” approach to his lack of playing time. These feel like chemistry issues, but I think Lebron James fixes much of that chemistry when he returns. Despite losing an important 2-game set with the Mavs, the Lakers are unlikely to fall into the play-in game, thanks to the Blazers struggles. They would be much better off in the 5th seed though, which means playing the Nuggets in the first round without Jamaal Murray. Jeanie Buss apparently has her issues too right now. She took heat for her list of Top 5 Lakers she mentioned on the “All The Smoke” podcast. Her list is Kareem, Kobe, Lebron, Magic, and Phil. I don’t get the outrage though. These lists are typically a function of how old you are, and in Jeanie’s case Lebron gave her the Lakers first title with her as owner, so of course he’s going to mean more to her. She probably should have kept it to players only, because it just seems like she’s only putting Phil on the list since they were engaged. In any case, we’re talking about the Lakers people. I guess they have to apologize for having too many of the greatest players, coaches, and executives in NBA history.

Then there’s Lebron James and his Twitter drama this week. In the aftermath of the Derek Chauvin verdict, Lebron mistakenly linked the circumstances of that police related incident with another without the facts. He tweeted something he regretted, and then deleted it, making him a target for criticism. I don’t love mixing politics with basketball, let alone any sport. Police brutality shouldn’t be political though. Criticizing Lebron is just taking away the matter that needs to be addressed. The Chauvin verdict isn’t justice by any means, but it is accountability, which we haven’t had much of before. Everything else that’s being talked about no matter what side you are on is just noise that is politicizing everything else.

Meanwhile, the Clippers have won 4 straight games and 5 of their last 6. They are knocking on the door of the 2-seed, and Paul George is knocking on the door of accountability. PG has put up 30 points or more in 7 of his last 8 games. That’s pretty impressive for a guy with a bad foot. However, everyone knows that it’s all about what the guy does in the playoffs. Speaking of playoffs, Rajon Rondo is already looking like “Playoff Rondo” and it’s not even the postseason yet. The numbers may not be sexy, but Rondo is controlling the tempo, making big shots, and providing floor leadership the Clips didn’t have before.

That was another great series over the weekend between the Dodgers and the Padres. This time the Dodgers dropped 3 out of 4, and yesterday they handed over a 7-1 lead like they were some 501C3 charity. This might just be a really good rivalry after all. The Dodgers have been struggling to hit with runners in scoring position the past week, but they still have the best record in baseball. Fernando Tatis Jr. seemed to have his way with the Dodgers all weekend, including with Trevor Bauer. Tatis not only hit a pair of homers off of Bauer, but mocked him while rounding the bases. I love the response from Bauer though, explaining that celebrating like this should be part of the culture of baseball. Is this really possible? Trevor Bauer is now the voice of reason? Some of you might even start to like him after that comment.

As for the Angels, they are collapsing faster than cryptocurrency after a hot start. Despite the win yesterday, they got battered over the last week, and suddenly their pitching looks as bad as we thought it was going to be. Losing key hitters from the lineup, and losing games in the division against the Astros is putting them in an early season hole. After Friday’s loss, the Angels had the fourth worst ERA in the majors, and that was before they got bombed on Saturday. Perry Minasian told the LA Times he doesn’t seem to be worried yet, but he must not have seen the Angels’ pitching for the last few years.

UCLA’s Johnny Juzang has announced that he is going to enter his name into the NBA draft. Without knowing his financial situation, I think he would be far better off returning to UCLA for another season. People know who he is now, he’s going to be on an elite team next year, with a platform to perform in front of scouts. That gives him a great opportunity to become a lottery pick in 2022, and give him better odds of a longer NBA career. On the other hand, he is currently projected as a late 2nd round pick, which isn’t even a guarantee he’ll be drafted. If he does get drafted, he won’t have a guaranteed contract, and he’ll likely be battling for minutes in the G-League. I realize there are only so many minutes available for a lot of good players on the Bruins next year, but Juzang will have plenty available to him if he comes back.

Finally, a scandal at USC? Since when? This never happens! The LA Times just published a story about the toxic culture on the USC Song Girl Squad. 10 former song girls spoke to the Times, and characterized the program as one that “went beyond normal fitness required to be on the spirit squad.” Former coach Lori Nelson was also mentioned for constantly “rebuking women publicly for their eating habits, personal appearance, and sex lives.” I get that many of these scandals took place before Carol Folt took over as President in 2019, but there are still accounts of this same culture going on in the program as of 6 months ago. I guess even Folt can only put out one fire at a time. SC is supposedly trying harder to be more ethical in every aspect of their University, but the perception of their culture is still all about image, and it feels like it’s getting harder and harder to change that.

Monday Morning Coffee

April 19, 2021

The Lakers are surviving without their stars. It’s been weeks without Lebron James and Anthony Davis. Yet the Lakers haven’t had a free fall to the play-in tournament like many predicted. They’ve also been fortunate that teams like the Jazz, Hornets, Nets, and Raptors were missing their own star players. Heck, these Laker games have been missing so many stars that they should just be decided by which team has more style: Kyle Kuzma, or the oppositions most fashion forward player. I’ve also been impressed with Markief Morris, who Dennis Schroeder also says is “tough and needs to get paid.” I know Dennis is worried a lot about money these days, including everyone else’s, but this time he doesn’t have to worry about Markieff. He’s getting paid millions by Steve Ballmer. That’s the benefit of having a joint bank account with your brother.

Speaking of the Lakers, after 13 months they let some fans back in the building last week vs the Boston Celtics. My special thanks to Fox 11’s Liz Habib for interviewing me as part of her coverage on the first game with fans on Thursday night. Her story aired on Thursday’s Night Fox 11 News at 10. However, you can find her story and the interview below.

Meanwhile, the Clippers seem to be content with whatever seed they get, but are doing everything they can to build momentum and chemistry. They beat up on the T-Wolves yesterday, and they had won 7 in a row going in Friday’s game with Philadelphia. Win or lose though, you can always guarantee that Paul George is going to have an excuse prepared. On Friday, he was complaining of a sore throat. A sore throat? Has this guy never heard of a cough drop? I’m sure he has plenty of excuses lined up if thing go south in the postseason. I’m also a little surprised that DeMarcus Cousins can’t get any consistent minutes with this team. The Clippers need size and more offense at the rim. DeMarcus is still trying to find his game with all the injuries he’s suffered, but to me, he’s worth giving minutes to in order to find out if he can re-discover that form. Given that Patrick Patterson is seeing more minutes than Boogie, it doesn’t look like he’s going to get that chance.

To baseball, where the Dodgers took 2 of 3 from the Padres over the weekend. It was a much hyped series that lived up to the excitement. Even though the Padres won yesterday, for all the talk that the Padres are ready to challenge the Dodgers for the division, they are just 5-11 against LA since the start of last season. Zack McKinstry has become Joc Pederson + Kike Hernandez, except with pants that aren’t quite as tight. The starting pitching has been sensational, and for all the talk about Kenley Jansen, he and the bullpen have been good enough. There’s a lot of baseball left to be played, but right now I have no reason to believe the Dodgers are not the team to beat in the MLB, especially with Mookie making plays like this.

Tough weekend for the Angels. The Twins screwed it up for them by not following COVID protocols, so two of their games got cancelled. At least that gives Shohei Ohtani more time to get right before his next start. The 6-man rotation seems to be working out ok so far. What doesn’t seem to be working out though is Albert Pujols. The Halos would be wise to start “social distancing” themselves from Pujols, and start using Jared Walsh as much as possible. Walsh is clearly a more capable all-around player right now, not to mention the first baseman of the future. Knowing Arte Moreno though, he’s probably yelling at Joe Maddon to play Pujols more because he believes he can sell more merchandise with Pujols like it’s 2010.

The LA Kings are returning to becoming a sad and disappointing franchise again. Remember when the Kings won a pair of Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014? Now there’s only four players remaining from that run, after Jeff Carter was traded last week. Rebuilding for any franchise is ok, but there is no end in sight to this rebuild. The Kings have by far the best farm system in hockey, with so much depth, they don’t even have space in the organization for more draft picks. However, they refuse to put those high end young players in their lineup to develop them, and they also refuse to trade any of them to get their remaining veterans help. I don’t know if anybody has told the Kings, but they play in Los Angeles, where this kind of extensive rebuilding crap isn’t tolerated by fans. We’ll miss you Jeff Carter, and I’m sure all the ladies in LA will miss you too.

Finally, I can’t believe some of you actually paid for that UFC Fight over the weekend. After losing to Jake Paul in less than a minute, Ben Askren should announce his retirement, then move somewhere nobody will ever recognize him again. If Nate Robinson saw that, he had to smile and get a good laugh knowing that he lasted longer vs Paul than Askren. I wonder what Uber Driver Paul is going to fight next? Here’s a look at the money all you UFC fans spent on that fight….

Monday Morning Coffee

April 12, 2021

I’m not going to be that guy. I’m not going to be the guy that sits here and tells you that the Lakers are that much better than the Nets because they blew them out without AD and Lebron. I’m not going to tell you that because the Nets were missing their own top 10 player, and had their best player on a minutes restriction. However, it’s encouraging to see the Lakers treading water without their stars. They’ve slipped to 5th in the West, but if they beat the Knicks tonight, they’ll improved to 6-6 without their two stars, which is way more than anybody could have asked for. I’m still super nervous about the two of them getting fully healthy again, but if they do, you have to like their chances in the playoffs against anybody. On a different note though, I have no idea what NBA referees are thinking. They’ve been ejecting players left and right for the past week like it’s Major League Baseball. We’ve reached the point where star players are getting ejected for some minor trash talking, and during nationally televised games? Apparently nobody has told these clowns that the ratings are down.

Meanwhile, the Clippers are winning but they have their own set of injuries they have to deal with. Serge Ibaka is still out of the lineup, and now Patrick Beverley is missing with a broken hand. Beverley and Rajon Rondo need to be in bubble wrap for the rest of the regular season to preserve them for the playoffs. These guys just can’t keep themselves healthy for an extended period of time. However, their effectiveness will solely be judged by how they perform in the playoffs. The same can be said for Paul George, who is tearing it up again for the time being. This team will only go as far as Paul George and Kawhi Leonard take them. Charles Barkley is apparently not a believer in them though. Barkley is wildly entertaining, but he could probably only say this kind of stuff on TNT, or else he would get fired at a place like ESPN.

To baseball, where the Dodgers swept the Nationals over the weekend. They are off to another great start, but their closer role remains a puzzling issue. Yesterday, Jansen looked as dominant as three years, shutting down the Nationals on 8 pitches in the 9th, and throwing up to 95 MPH to get the save. Coming into Sunday though, Kenley Jansen had appeared in only 3 games, and given up one run, with one blown save. After that one blown save, it felt like Dave Roberts was doing everything he could to tactfully divorce himself from having Jansen as his closer. Every word that came out of Roberts mouth sounds like a guy who is trying to break up with his long-time girlfriend. Pretty soon he’s going to be saying “it’s not you…’s me.” Yesterday showed us that the Dodgers shouldn’t write off Kenley yet, but I also think they need other options in their back pocket. I don’t buy that those options are Corey Knebel, Blake Treinen, or Victor Gonzales. Those guys are nice back end bullpen arms, but not closers. If they aren’t going to make one of their young arms a closer, by the trade deadline, the Dodgers might need to go get themselves a proven one.

As for the Angels, it’s only been a week, but I’ve been impressed with their pitching. Although Jose Quintana got bombed on Saturday night, nearly every game they’ve played in this season has featured a quality start. Tough news for Dexter Fowler that he’s out for the season with a torn ACL. He’s older, but glad to hear he sounds determined to come back strong and resume his MLB career. Also, a savvy move by Joe Maddon getting ejected on Saturday. He probably just wanted to see the 3rd round of the Masters in the clubhouse while his team was getting blown out. It’s that kind of work life balance we should all strive to achieve.

It’s been a week since UCLA basketball was eliminated in the Final Four, but the city is still buzzing over the Bruins. Gonzaga ended up losing to Baylor in the Finals, but let’s be real. It was really UCLA that defeated The Zags, because they had nothing left against the Bears. Meanwhile, Mick Cronin is worried the team is going to lose some toughness because some guys are posting photos on IG of their puppies. Don’t worry Mick, I think your guys won’t ever lose that with you coaching the team. Cronin got a well-deserved extension last week. Now his challenge is going to be finding enough minutes next season for a team that could potentially return everybody, plus add two more five-star freshman. That’s an embarrassment of riches, but also makes me think a few of these guys won’t come back because they know there aren’t enough minutes to go around. In any case, the Bruins should be really good next year, and they reminded us that they can still captivate Southern California. Now if only Martin Jarmond can fix the football program.

On the other side of town, the USC Football team had an imposter attending it’s spring football practices up until recently. A homeless man snuck into USC practice, then posed as a football player for several days before being arrested. The imposter even shared a jacuzzi with players, and a team meal, before he was caught trying to field punts. How did this guy make it past security? This was truly a “Catch Me If You Can” moment. As I’ve tried to tell you guys for years, anybody can get into USC! If the homeless guy was really sharp though, he would have tried to impersonate Clay Helton. Nobody can tell the difference between him and a guy who knows nothing about football.

Finally, congratulations to Hideki Matsuyama on winning the Masters yesterday. He’s the first Japanese player to win a major tournament. The man was so dominant, he made the entire weekend boring, with the exception of the last couple of holes. The drama ended though when Xander Schauffle collapsed on the 16th hole. Makes sense…..these kinds of implosions only happen to San Diego, which is where he’s from.
Will Zalatoris looks like the caddy in Happy Gilmore. He even got some well wishes from Adam Sandler on Twitter because of the striking resemblance. No matter how hard you try to sell it, the tournament just isn’t the same without Tiger Woods. Golf can try to sell us Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, or Dustin Johnson all the want, but it’s just not the same. Here’s to hoping we’ll see Tiger back on the course at some point captivating us.

Monday Morning Coffee

April 5, 2021

Saturday night was a reminder of what sports is sometimes: 99% kicks to the balls and 1% glory. If you’re a sports fan in SoCal, sometimes it feels like there’s a lot more glory than most, but not on Saturday night when UCLA lost at the buzzer to Gonzaga in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament. The real pain is that reality finally hit everyone that the Bruins actually could have won this game and won a National Championship. They would have done it losing their two best players. Instead, it turned out to be the most painful and heroic loss in school history. I had my Adam Morrison crying tweets ready. Instead, I was crying. I blame this on Chip Kelly. He showed up to watch the game, which explains why nobody could play defense. The biggest underdog ever in The Final Four just delivered one of the greatest college games of all-time. It’s just a shame they came up on the wrong end of it. The referees didn’t do them any favors throughout the game either. Nevertheless, although the circumstances are a bit different, UCLA feels like it did at the end of the Final Four under Ben Howland. They have a program who has someone in charge who can sustain excellence, which had been missing previously. When you combine that along with the respect they earned from the nation, that’s something to feel really good about.

Elsewhere around March Madness, Baylor should be arrested for assault and battery after what they did to Houston in the semi-finals. It’s like the Houston Cougars turned into the Houston Texans once the game tipped-off. It’s no wonder Miley Cyrus was singing “Wrecking Ball” after the game. Speaking of Miley, there were probably a bunch of young people explaining to their parents who she is, and a bunch of parents explaining to their kids what songs she was singing. Not sure how the NCAA landed on her. I mean, they could have paid an actual cover band to perform these songs for a lot less. Then again, asking the NCAA to manage a budget, is like asking Enron to do your taxes.

To the NBA, where the Lakers are still trying to tread water with Lebron James and Anthony Davis nursing injuries, and now Andre Drummond. They got crushed like a grape by the Clippers yesterday. Meanwhile, Marc Gasol is complaining that he’s about to be demoted since the Lakers signed Drummond, and even suggested he might want out. However, I think Gasol is being short-sighted here. There’s still a role for him. Anthony Davis doesn’t like playing center. Gasol is also a better fit with the 2nd unit with ‘Trez occupying the post, so he can create space, as well as cover up defensively for what ‘Trez might lack. Of course this all could have been avoided if Lebron had just promised Gasol a role in Space Jam 2. I can just imagine him getting asked by every one of his teammates if they can be in that movie over the last couple of years. As for the team, I still think the Lakers have a ways to go before they slide all the way to the play-in tournament, as most people seem to think will happen. In fact, if the Lakers can get Lebron and AD back by the middle of April, I think they have a decent chance to make a run at one of the top 2 seeds, which is a more likely scenario than sliding all the way to the 7th seed.

The Clippers blowout win against the Lakers yesterday keeps them clinging to 3rd in the West. The Morris Brothers went up against each other again, or I guess I should say “The Morii” faced each other, which feels like an episode of an 80’s sitcom about two twin basketball players. The Clips are also expected to add Demarcus Cousins on a 10-Day contract, which is an interesting addition. It blows my mind that less than 4 years ago this guy was the best center in the league, and now he can barely get a 10-day contract from a team. He can definitely still give teams a big game from time-to-time. However, the real question the Clips have to be asking themselves is about Paul George. Coming into Sunday, in his last 8 games he’s shooting under 40% from the field and 34% from 3. Those numbers are far from what he was putting up when he claimed he was “back with vengeance” earlier in the season. George claims he still needs to figure out how to play through foot pain, from the bone edema he suffered earlier in the season. The only problem is, nobody knows how much of this is George really nursing an injury, vs an early showing from “Playoff P”. Especially when you see plays like this….

To baseball, where the Dodgers took 3 out of 4 from the Rockies to open the season. The offense looked sharp and they didn’t even rely on the the home run. That’s amazing because in Colorado, teams usually rely on the home run like Charlie Sheen relies on Tequila to get him through the weekend. The starting pitching also cleaned itself up after an ugly spring training. I’m not even worried about Clayton Kershaw, who may have given up runs on Thursday, but was just a victim of some fluky hits that weren’t hit very hard. However, I don’t understand why the Dodgers are putting Kenley Jansen in a 5-out save situation like it’s the 2015 playoffs. Not only is it 2021 where the Dodgers have a real bullpen, but this is also just the 3rd game of the season when this took place. I’m beginning to wonder if Dave Roberts wants Jansen to fail so he can find an excuse to move on from him. Jansen did fine, but I suppose only time will tell.

Apparently Joe Maddon must have been taking managing advice from Dave Roberts, because he also tried to get his new closer to record a 5-out save just a couple of days into the season. This time it didn’t work out so well, but the Angels still won and took 3 of 4 from the White Sox. Not only was Shohei Ohtani very good yesterday, but the Angels starting pitching was pretty good for three of the first four games. It’s pretty obvious the Halos are going to score runs. If they get that kind of pitching, making the postseason becomes a much bigger reality. That’s as long as they don’t throw the ball around the yard like little leaguers like they did last night. Thank goodness Ohtani was ok after that collision at home plate. Also, I can’t believe Tony La Russa is still managing. This guy is so old, I’m beginning to wonder if he was wearing a diaper underneath his pants last night when he was walking to the mound. It sure looked like it. He must be extremely bored and had to come back to work. Here’s a look at Jared Walsh’s walk-off homer to win-it last night.

Finally, there’s noise around the Chargers potentially selling the team. Dea Spanos, one of the four Spanos siblings, has filed a suit to try and compel the rest of the family to sell. It’s really amazing to me that the Spanos has managed to rack up $353 million in debt (even though it’s real estate related), since the NFL basically hands each team a check at the beginning of the year that covers all their expenses. This story has to be like porno for any Charger fan that is praying for new ownership. To me the lawsuit sounds like Dea trying to woo a big investor like Jeff Bezos to come up with a monster offer like $10 billion to buy out her and the entire trust. There’s no way the rest of the Spano family could come up with that kind of money. The same thing happened in Miami with the ownership of the Dolphins a few years ago. Still, there is a lot of noise that even if a sale of the team doesn’t happen now, it could very well happen in the next couple of years according to those that know Dean Spanos well. If nothing else, this should be the feel good part of the story for anybody that is still a Charger fan.