October 25, 2021
I’m so thankful that Max Scherzer saved his arm for game 7. I’m glad he’ll be nice and rested for that. Oh wait, there will be no game 7! In all seriousness though, the Dodgers were a team that just ran out of depth and ran out of gas. The pitchers looked exhausted from trying to catch the Giants and beating them in a grueling five game series. The offense could never find it’s groove, hitting just .244 with runners in scoring position. The injuries eventually caught up with them. There were plenty of terrible decisions Andrew Friedman’s computer forced Dave Roberts to make, but ultimately, they lost because they didn’t hit when it mattered. It’s the all or nothing home run or die approach that has been a problem for this team for a while now. It’s that approach will needs a bit of re-evaluation, but I doubt you’ll see it. It’s a disappointing end to the season, but it’s better that they lost to the Braves than than to the Giants, or an Astros team they would have been outmanned against. Now comes a potentially dreadful off-season, where five key free agents need to be re-signed. I would love to see all of them come back, but I have my doubts they all will, unless a few are willing take a discount.
I’m not going to sugar coat this one: The Lakers look like garbage to start the season. They were also fortunate Lebron avoided a catastrophic injury. Even with the win last night against Memphis, their offense is totally out of sync at times and completely disjointed. Their defense is now tanking like Joe Biden’s approval rating. Yes it’s early, but they didn’t even look competitive against the Suns, and the Warriors are already lighting them up without Klay. If this team is really the championship contender they say they are, they have a ton of work to do before it happens. Russell Westbrook played better last night, but looks completely awkward at times in this offense. I don’t know who Austin Reaves is, but he needs to play more minutes. My biggest fear is really that if things continue to go south, Frank Vogel will take the blame for it, and he could get canned. That would be terrible because the Lakers really lucked out when they hired him, and ended up with a pretty damn good coach. The schedule is soft, so if they don’t bank those wins now, it’s only going to get much worse, which is a huge concern. THT, Kendrick Nunn, Trevor Ariza, and Wayne Ellington can’t get back on the floor soon enough.
Meanwhile, the Clippers are off to a slow start after losing to both the Warriors and the Grizzlies. Paul George is actually doing his part so far, so I can’t really bring the jokes at him like I usually do, but nobody else is really earning their paycheck so far. They’ll get the Blazers tonight, who haven’t exactly been tearing it up in their first two games either, with losses to the Warriors and Kings. If the Clips are going to stay afloat without Kawai, they are going to need Marcus Morris, Terrance Mann, and Luke Kennard to step it up. Mann has the potential to do some special things at times, but Morris and Kennard are being paid for who knows what at this point given their inconsistent production. Of course Ty Lue says he expected a slow start to slow everyone’s roll on expectations, but that’s tough to do when you’re trying to hang in the Western Conference.
To the NFL, where the Rams got by the Lions yesterday at SOFI Stadium. This game was nearly Jared Goff’s revenge, but the Rams pulled it off. I’m not sure whether to look at this as just a Sunday where they took the Lions lightly, or if there is more to be concerned about. The Lions did take advantage of the Rams on special teams with opportunistic, “smoke and mirrors” type plays. However, we may not know for sure until they play the 49ers in a few weeks, because right now their schedule is softer than tissue paper. Cooper Kupp is still a monster though, and making me think that he’s the best receiver in the NFL more and more every week. That had to have been Jared Goff’s worst nightmare, getting smashed by Aaron Donald and throwing an interception to Jalen Ramsey.
Elsewhere around Week 8, Derrick Henry is throwing more touchdown passes these days than New York Jets QB’s, as the Titans dismantled the Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes just hasn’t been the same since that engagement photo was taken. The Chiefs are in last in the AFC West, The Bengals are in 1st in the AFC North, and the Cardinals are still undefeated. Is this a simulation? The Dolphins are now just 1-6, and massage therapists all over Miami are trembling at the thought of DeShaun Watson getting traded there. Sam Darnold must miss his days a a member of the Jets, because he’s suddenly playing like he’s their starting QB again. The Raiders suddenly look a lot better without Jon Gruden coaching them, Tom Brady is still putting up video game numbers, and the Colts suddenly remember how to win football games again.
That was a predictable outcome with USC getting blown out by Notre Dame in South Bend on Sunday. If only Brian Kelly would stop playing musical quarterbacks, the Irish might actually get to that elite level. As for USC, I feel like every week we’re just watching the same undisciplined Trojan team take the field, and look completely unstructured. It makes everyone ask themselves who they want as the next head coach, and James Franklin seems to be the favorite to win the job. However, after watching Penn State’s offense over the weekend struggle with lowly Illinois, I’m not sure how fired up people are going to be about bringing that offense to USC.
Meanwhile, UCLA blew a great opportunity to give themselves credibility with a win against Oregon. It was a close game, but Chip Kelly could have validated himself and his success this season with a win. That wasn’t the case though, as Dorian Thompson-Robinson and the Bruin offense just couldn’t make enough big plays when it mattered. On the bright side though, UCLA still has a chance to meet Oregon again in the conference title game, which could actually give them a shot at the Rose Bowl. They’ll need ASU to lose a game or two, but if the Bruins show up every week, which is a big if and all, they could have a nice finish to the season.
Finally, I was told that the LA Kings were going to be much improved this year. Their 1-3-1 record so far suggests that I was lied to. Now they might be without their star defenseman Drew Doughty for a period of time. On one hand I’m happy to see that they are finally putting some of their kids in the lineup like Arthur Kaliyev, Rasmus Kupari, and Tobias Bjornfot. However, it’s obvious now this is going to take time to see which prospects can play right now and which can’t. Through five games, they are already trending toward the bottom third of the league in goals allowed. They also seem to be allergic to hitting people these days. It’s like we’re watching the 1990’s LA Kings all over again. Right now this still feels like a painful rebuild from hell, but here’s to hoping it’s just early.