Monthly Archives: May 2022

Monday Morning Coffee

May 30, 2022

Happy Memorial Day everyone! The Lakers finally stopped messing around and hired Darvin Ham as their Head Coach over the weekend. They also finally adjusted to what they had not done previously: gave their head coach a 4-year deal and let him hire his own staff. The coaching market wasn’t exactly littered with big names, but this was way better than hiring some re-tread and hoping for the best. Ham is more than qualified to be a head coach with his tenure as an assistant. It also puts an end to the ridiculous idea that they could hire Doc Rivers, which would have been a disaster. Now if they can just fix the roster. All this talk about not wanting to move a first round pick in order to move Russell Westbrook is ridiculous. If the Lakers aren’t willing to move a 1st rounder that is 5 years from now, they might as well start rebuilding now. The Lakers need able bodied wing players, and moving Westbrook with that pick might be the only way to get them, even if it means taking on additional years of salary. Besides, there are no super star free agents available in the next couple of off-seasons that they should be trying to maintain their flexibility for. Can we stop it with the Zach Lavine rumors too? Yes, I realize that even he is interested in playing for the Lakers, but apparently his agent hasn’t explained to him how the salary cap works.

As for the NBA Finals, this is every Laker and Lebron fans worst nightmare: Celtics vs Warriors. It’s the Bay Area organic snobs vs the Clam Chowder snobs. Make no mistake about it, if you’re a Laker fan, there’s no way the Celtics win this series, and if they do you are jumping off the Santa Monica pier because they have more championships than LA at that point. As great as Steph Curry’s legacy is if he wins this series, it’s still not better than Lebron’s, who has been compared to the greatest player of all-time. Nobody is comparing Steph to that. I did come away very impressed with the Miami Heat though, even though they lost in 7. Not sure how they made it as close as they did with a hobbled Jimmy Butler, and no reliable 2nd scorer. This was all guts and grit, and they almost pulled it off, had Butler made that 3-pointer in the final seconds.

To baseball where complaining about the Dodgers right now is like complaining that the red wine isn’t as good as the white wine. Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman are basically like Shaq and Kobe, just dominating every game they play. Betts suddenly looks like an MVP candidate after a slow start, and the pitching staff has been the best in baseball so far. Of course you can complain about the ups and downs of Justin Turner (who is up right now), Cody Bellinger, and Max Muncy (who is injured and down right now). However, when the lineup is this deep, not everybody needs to be hot at one time, and you can afford to have those ups and downs. There’s also these wild rumors about the Dodgers trading for Juan Soto. This is purely a fantasy baseball idea. There’s no need for the Dodgers to add another power hitting outfielder to their lineup. It’s overkill. It’s adding a Ferrari to your garage when you already have 5 of them. If the Dodgers should add anything at the trade deadline, it’s pitching. Unfortunately, there really are no elite pitchers to be had at the deadline like last year. More than anything, they just need a healthy Clayton Kershaw to hold up in October.

As for the Angels, the last week has been hell for them. They’ve lost 5 in a row, and are now 3 games back of the Astros in the AL West. Apparently the concession stand registers weren’t working the other night at The Big A, so they were giving away some food. I didn’t realize though that the malfunctioning of the registers meant giving away baseball games as well. This is a $90 million bullpen that is pitching like a 9 cent bullpen. How do you lose a game in which Ohtani homers twice, while Taylor Ward and Max Stassi drive in a total of 7 runs? I’d complain about the durability of Anthony Rendon, but he can’t pitch anyway. Not sure there are any immediate answers for that group other than to just hope they pitch better in high leverage situations, especially with the Yankees looming this week. Then there’s the Anaheim Stadium sale corruption scandal, which forced the resignation of the Mayor of Anaheim, Harry Sidhu. This makes you wonder whether the Angels will really stay in Anaheim for the next decade, or if there is still a possibility they end up in Long Beach. Not that Arte Moreno did anything wrong here, but is anyone really surprised that this happened while Moreno owned the team? It was going to be a sweet-heart deal for the Angels, which Arte has to have to be able to afford to stay in Anaheim.

So Colin Kapernick was invited to workout for the Raiders last week, and supposedly it went “really well”. Weird, because I’ve been looking everywhere for the “Colin Kapernick signs with the Raiders” news and can’t find it anywhere. It must be somewhere right? Nope. This was nothing but a publicity stunt by Mark Davis. Stop wasting our time with this Kapernick thing. It’s been six years since he’s been in the league. The guy isn’t coming back, and when he started his whole BLM movement, he was already a backup QB in the league. At that point, nobody wants a backup QB on their team who is going to make a lot of noise about anything (even if you think it’s a worthy cause). They also don’t want one that has been out of the league for 6 years either. I credit Kapernick for the efforts he’s made on racial injustice, but let’s stop pretending like he’s coming back to football.

Finally, “Top Gun: Maverick” just posted the biggest opening movie weekend of Tom Cruise’s career. It did $156 million. Although it’s not the forever pop culture icon that first one was, it’s still a really good movie that is very entertaining. It was also released with brilliant timing. Memorial Day Weekend, and a movie that didn’t have anything political thrown out at you. Even though I’m not a fan of sequels, this one was actually worth seeing.

Monday Morning Coffee


May 23, 2022

The Lakers have reportedly narrowed down their coaching search to three finalists: Darwin Ham, Terry Stotts, and Kenny Atkinson. Those reports also indicated that Ham is the frontrunner, and that is Lebron’s preferred choice. Knowing how the Lakers coaching searches have gone in recent years, that probably means they will hire Mike Dunleavy. In all seriousness, I wish they would hurry up and hire Ham so that they don’t overthink it and do anything stupid. Then there’s the wild Zach Lavine rumors Lavar Ball started, suggesting he wants to be a Laker this summer. Not only would this be extremely difficult from a salary cap perspective (which Eric Pincus can tell you all about), but it’s not even a good idea. Lavine has consistently missed a chunk of games the last few years with a knee issue. The Lakers don’t need another $30+ million player who is going to be hurt all the time. They need effective 3 and D role players that can surround Lebron and AD. This is also something they shouldn’t overthink.

Elsewhere around the NBA Playoffs, ESPN should be embarrassed. They spent the entire Celtics-Heat game 3 post game talking about how “depleted” the Celtics were. Are you joking? The Heat are losing players left and right, including their best player, Jimmy Butler, and it’s the Celtics that are depleted? I’m convinced that both Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart just crapped their pants, and weren’t really injured. Andrew Wiggins just murdered Luka Doncic and put him on a poster last night in game 3 of the West Finals. The Warriors are basically a lock to go to the Finals, and we all should have known when Charles Barkley predicted the Mavs would win in 7.

The Dodgers had their 7-game win streak snapped yesterday in Philadelphia. Things are still going well, but not exactly for Max Muncy. He can’t hit right now, and he also can’t seem to field either, committing an error yesterday that cost the Dodgers the game. At this point, Edwin Rios and Will Smith should be in the 4th and 5th spot in the lineup everyday. Rios has 4 homers in his last 21 at bats, and on average homers every 9 plate appearances. However, I don’t hear anybody complaining about Mookie Betts and his contract anymore. All those idiots said he was the worst contract in baseball after seeing like 3 weeks of the season. Instead, he’s now reminding people why he’s one of the best players in baseball. The Boys in Blue are off to Washington today.

As for the Angels, they bounced back by taking 2 of 3 against the A’s over the weekend. That came after getting swept by Rangers. The Angels are right there with the Astros, but if there’s one thing that’s cost them so far it’s Joe Maddon’s super weird decisions. For instance, why is Jared Walsh not in the lineup everyday? Also, what is the guy’s obsession with Matt Duffy, who is hitting just .229 on the year? A month ago we saw him pinch hitting with the bases loaded for a guy who hit a grand slam earlier in the day. Then when it comes to Jo Adell, feels like he would rather play with 8 guys then put him in the lineup, which explains why Adell got sent to the minors. At this point, it’s not the pitching or anything in the lineup that would worry me. It’s Maddon’s decision making.

In the NFL, the Rams are still trying to work things out with Aaron Donald on a new contract. I also like how Donald’s camp is still floating rumors that he might retire if he doesn’t get the deal he wants. This is no doubt this is nothing but a leverage play to get the deal he wants from them. We’re now hearing something in the neighborhood of $28 million a year, which sounds nuts, but the guy is arguably one of the best defensive players of all-time. With the way Les Snead does salary cap gymnastics, I’m sure he will find a way to figure this out.

The LA Kings are reportedly going to give GM Rob Blake a 3-year extension. One of the things I make a point of here on Jock Talk LA is that when I am wrong (and let’s be honest, that doesn’t happen very often) I own it. I was super critical of Blake for his rebuild that has been as slow as molasses, his poor coaching choices, and what I felt were questionable trades. However, he has really proved me wrong, and I’m happy to see it. He made the best free agent acquisition last year by signing Philip Danault, his patience with the prospects is starting to pay off, and he actually made a great trade by acquiring Trevor Moore and Sean Durzi. His 3-year extension is well deserved, and the Kings may be competing for Stanley Cups again sooner than we think.

Finally, Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher went at each other last week over NIL and it was quite amusing. Saban says Texas A&M bought every player on their team to get the #1 recruiting class, and Fisher fired back by basically saying the GOAT is a cheater. Saban is a total hypocrite here because let’s be real, no way Alabama (or at least through back channels), hasn’t paid off players to build the dynasty they have in the last 15 years. Just because now that there is some legal component to it where A&M is benefitting (and others) Saban doesn’t like it. Saban also said that without NIL, there is more parity in College Football. Are you kidding Nick? College Football is the biggest waste of time the last twenty years because you’re team has dominated, along with Clemson. Maybe NIL might actually bring parity back into the game!

Monday Morning Coffee

Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (32) and teammates watch as Edmonton Oilers celebrate.

May 16, 2022

I almost forgot how horrible game 7’s are until the Kings played on Saturday night against the Oilers, and we’re eliminated. If you’re invested, it’s miserable. You’ve been spoiled by the fact that they’ve dominated game 7’s for the last decade. That was not the case with a different and younger Kings team over the weekend. The fact the Kings made it this far is impressive. Nobody expected them to make the playoffs, and they took the Oilers to 7, while missing two of their best players. Still, it doesn’t make it any less disappointing knowing the series was winnable, and that they could have closed it out in 6. However, the Kings have some huge opportunities in front of them. They have plenty of young talent, draft capital, and cap space to go improve their team. They badly need more scoring. They also need a better power play. Jonathan Quick is still amazing, but he can’t play forever, and at some point they will need another elite goalie. Cal Peterson isn’t that guy. They probably also need a #1 center, because Anze Kopitar is still great, but getting a little long in the tooth. Big salute to Dustin Brown, who played his last game, but had an amazing career. Now that Florida is playing Tampa, and Edmonton is playing Calgary, you have the battle of Florida, and the battle of Canadian Florida going on simultaneously.

To the NBA, where most Laker fans are breathing a sigh of relief. The Sixers want Doc Rivers back as their coach. You can keep him Philly, as well as that lazy lard butt James Harden. I’m still a little nervous, because Doc hasn’t committed to coming back knowing that Harden is still there, and clearly doesn’t like him. It’s not out of the question Doc backs out, especially if he knows he has another job lined up. For now, it may have been accidental, but the Lakers dodged a bullet if Doc is staying. Now they will likely go with Darwin Ham, Terry Stotts, or Quinn Snyder. Ham is the obvious choice here, and not a complete re-tread, unlike the other two choices. As for Lebron, if you’re watching the NBA playoffs, you have to ask yourself whether or not it’s a good idea to extend a 37-year-old player more than one year at a time. Chris Paul’s ability seemed to deteriorate in a matter of a week. He’s got about $90 million left on his contract and he’s 37. Lebron is already missing games, which has been a problem in 3 of the past 4 seasons. With that being said, I still have a feeling that both the Lakers and Lebron will talk themselves into doing this deal come August. It’s how both sides tend to do business. Apparently Laker coaching candidates have been asked how they would use Russell Westbrook if they were to get the job. Hopefully their answers are “as trade bait”.

I think it’s pretty obvious at this point that the Rams want to bring OBJ back and OBJ wants to be back with the Rams. This feels like all it really takes is carving out just a little bit of cap space, and a nice sit down at Nobu between OBJ, Les Snead, and Sean McVay. McVay just came out and said that he wants OBJ back. OBJ said that he wants to be back with the Rams. That should be enough motivation for both sides to get something done.

I’m not sure what in the hell happened to the Dodger pitching over the weekend. The Dodgers made the Phillies look like the ’27 Yankees with the way they were giving up runs. Apparently the Dodgers only lose to crummy teams like the Pirates and Phillies, otherwise they have been pretty solid. I’d say they should feel good about Arizona coming in next, but Arizona stinks too, which means they could give the Boys in Blue more problems! I still can’t believe we have to hear more criticism about these Dave Roberts in-game decisions. After all these years you people really still think it’s Dave Roberts who is pulling the strings here with the pitching and lineup decisions? You guys must think it’s still 1995, and have never heard of artificial intelligence or analytics. Roberts is just reading the next move off of line 54 of the spreadsheet, for all intents and purposes. Losing Clayton Kershaw to the IL hurts as well, however, at least it’s not an arm injury. I also think Kershaw could probably use the rest anyway. I’m sure this makes some of you even more annoyed that he was pulled from the perfect game to protect him, yet he still got hurt. However, think of it this way: he might have suffered an even more serious injury if he wasn’t taken out of that game.

The Angels might not be the best baseball team in LA, or the most popular by any stretch of the imagination. However, they appear to be the most fun team to watch right now. Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, and some decent pitching this year has put them in 1st place in the AL West. They’ve won 7 of their past 10 games, and have a +57 run differential, which is 2nd best in the AL. Were it not for those pesky Houston Astros who have caught fire, they would be in sole possession of 1st place in the West right now. Instead they are sharing it, which is still pretty good for the Halos. As sad as this is to say, this is probably what Arte Moreno wants. He wants to win and all, but probably cares more about having an entertaining product that will sell tickets and merchandise. For the time being he has that, so in his mind, being stingy is perfectly justified.

Finally, if you think the NIL model is shaking up College Sports you haven’t seen anything yet. There’s a new bill in the CA legislature that will be discussed this week, which would potentially force Universities to revenue share with athletes. If that happens, you can completely kiss the NCAA goodbye, and they can start posting their resume on LinkedIn. This is going to take collegiate sports to the next level, and at this point, it’s probably the most sensible and just thing to do for those that are actually making the money. It might even make collegiate sports better, because kids could stay in school longer since they are making money, and develop longer. That means by the time they get to be pros, the quality of their game will be that much better, and they’ll be more mature as well. That benefits the professional leagues too. What a concept!

Monday Morning Coffee

May 9, 2021

I could not be more impressed with the LA Kings. I definitely wrote these guys off after getting dismantled by the Oilers in games 2 and 3 of their playoff series. Then they find a way to pull it together, missing two of their best players, and shut down Edmonton last night to tie their best-of-seven series at 2-2. Jonathan Quick is still a gamer, who has been the difference in both LA wins, but the Kings are also a tough, prideful, and gritty group. They’ve got guys like Carl Grundstrom who are pushing pucks across the goal line with their faces, and dudes like Trevor Moore that belong on the third line, yet are holding their own against elite players like Connor McDavid. NHL teams have been getting dunked on balls in the face style, giving up 5-7 goals a game, but the Kings are still playing steady defense when it matters, no matter how much criticism they have received over the last few weeks. I’m honestly shocked the Kings have made it this far, couldn’t be prouder of the team, but have zero expectations that that they could actually win this series. Have crazier things happened? Well sure. It’s skill vs will, and last night will was king. They’ll need more of that to happen if they are planning on winning two of the next three games, with no home-ice advantage.

I’d like to issue an apology to every NBA team out there that is still in the playoffs.  The Lakers had a zoom meeting with a couple of coaching candidates and suddenly that’s all anybody wants to talk about, rather than the teams in the playoffs.  A freaking Zoom meeting!  I also realize that everybody wants to play fantasy basketball and trade Lebron, trade AD, and trade Russ, but everybody needs to back away from the trade machine.  Lebron and AD aren’t going anywhere.  Try as they might, even moving Russ won’t be easy.  The bigger story though is how terrifying it is that Phil Jackson is still advising the Lakers on coaching decisions, and that they still have their eyes on Doc Rivers, if he were to become available.  What a disaster if both of those things are true.  Doc is certainly making a good case to be the Laker coach though with his insistence on playing DeAndre Jordan, who would probably be picked last in a YMCA pick up game right now. The Lakers shouldn’t overthink this. Hire Darvin Ham and let’s move on. He’s a bright young NBA mind, who deserves a shot, and is the kind of “out-of-the-box” thinking they should have when hiring a coach.

Meanwhile, the Clippers quietly made a nice move by re-signing Robert Covington to a two-year deal.  Covington proved to be a useful role player for the Clips, and fortunately for the Clip Show, Covington didn’t have many options out there where teams had cap space to pay him.  The moral of this story is that it doesn’t matter if you’ve been passed around the NBA like a Kardashian, players like Covington can still be important on the right squad like the Clippers.  Every team needs wing depth these days, and the Clips just added more of it.

As for the NBA Playoffs, James Harden “turned the clock back” yesterday with a big performance. Dude is only 32 years old, so by “turn the clock back” we mean to whatever week he wasn’t at the strip club and then showed up to work. This dude was being compared to Kobe a few months ago. Now he’s more comparable to Marlon Brando. Amazingly enough, the Sixers still have a great chance to win the series, despite having Harden and Doc Rivers in their organization. Meanwhile, Chris Paul was hit with 4 fouls yesterday once he got to the parking lot for the game. I still have a hard time seeing the Mavs winning this series. The Warriors and Grizzlies series is cool until we have to obnoxiously hear about each player that “broke the code” and supposedly tried to injury another. That’s just a dumb story line. The Warriors look more experienced and poised though. I’m beginning to think the winner of the Celtics and Bucks will end up winning the NBA Championship though, and since Giannis now looks like the best player in the world, it looks like Milwaukee’s to lose.

On to baseball, where the Dodgers have dominated the last week by sweeping the Giants and Cubs. The Boys in Blue have the best record in baseball, and have been dominant on the mound, sporting the best starting era in baseball. It’s hard to complain about much, but believe it or not, they aren’t even clicking on all cylinders yet on offense. Max Muncy and Justin Turner have been doing some weird mechanical adjustments to their swings, and they look like little leaguers. They should get it together, but the rumors of Trea Turner’s departure in the off-season are more concerning. Turner has a home in Florida and reportedly has a strong desire to play closer to that home of his. Who wants to live in Florida though? 1,000% humidity and gators going for a swim in your pool every now and again? In any case, those same sources said he isn’t ruling out re-signing with the Dodgers, so that may be his way of telling Andrew Friedman that if you overpay him, he’ll stay.


Meanwhile, the Angels are playing their best baseball in 7 years, and yet their fans are still finding a way to complain about them. The Halos have won 4 of their last 6 and are in 1st place in the AL West. Their pitching has looked sturdy, and their run differential is among the best in the AL. They also had a wild walk off- rally yesterday afternoon against the Nationals, capped by Anthony Rendon’s RBI single. Shohei Ohtani and Anthony Rendon have had the batting averages or Mickey and Mini Mouse so far, yet the Halos are still looking like one of the best teams in the AL. Things are really looking up so far in Anaheim.

Finally, Rich Strike won the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. Dude was an 80-1 longshot. The owner actually found out he wasn’t going to be in the race until the night before. Of course when he was asked if he expected to win, he said of course he did. That was completely believable until you actually saw what dude was wearing on TV, like he was going for a Saturday at the park instead of the winners circle at the Derby.

Monday Morning Coffee

May 2, 2022

It’s been weeks since the Laker season ended and we’re still getting nasty leaks from the front office. Those leaks are directing blame at Lebron James, Anthony Davis, and Rich Paul for pushing the Lakers to trade for Russell Westbrook. This has to be coming from a member of the Lakers staff that knows they are getting fired, and taking their shots on the way out the door. It might even be coming from Judy Seto, who was their Director of Sports Performance, who was recently let go. In any case, the Lakers have people that work for them that have been perpetuating the same rumors for weeks, and basically acting like a bitter ex-wife. However, I am impressed that the Lakers are actually thinking slightly outside the box with a potential coaching hire, requesting permission to speak to Darwin Ham. We haven’t heard much in the way of coaching rumors since the season ended, which makes me think the Lakers have had their eye on coaches that are still in the playoffs.

Elsewhere around the NBA, we’re on to the 2nd round and the Bucks look like they are ready to successfully defend their NBA title, after Giannis dismantled the Celtics in the Garden in game 1. Meanwhile, if you don’t think Chris Paul is amazing, there is something wrong with you. He’s getting older, and feels like he’s only getting better. 14-14 from the field in an elimination game? When I look at the Suns, Grizzlies, Pelicans, Mavs, and T-Wolves, I see five really good young teams that I think the Lakers are going to have problems surpassing in the next year.

To the ice, where the LA Kings are back in the playoffs for the first time in four years. This is going to be quite a retro 1st round playoff series too, facing the Edmonton Oilers for the first time in the playoffs since 1992. This isn’t exactly the same Kings team that last won the Cup in 2014, as they have a whole lot of young players, and a lot less depth. They still have Anze Kopitar, but Drew Doughty is out injured for the playoffs. However, they seem to be playing for both Jonathan Quick and Dustin Brown, who announced that he will be retiring when the season ends. Dustin Brown is the LA Kings equivalent of Kobe Bryant. He’s been an incredible leader for 18 years with the Kings, the captain of a two-time Cup Champion, Olympic Champion, and scored over 300 goals in his career. He’s a borderline hall of famer, but should instantly have his jersey retired. The Kings can find inspiration in trying to win in the playoffs for Brown, and they are already finding it with Jonathan Quick’s stellar play the last couple of weeks. This team probably doesn’t have enough defensive depth to beat the Oilers, but making the playoffs with this many injuries is a nice accomplishment and good progress for a rebuilding franchise.

In baseball, the Dodger finally got some closure to the Trevor Bauer situation. Bauer is suspended for the next two seasons for his involvement in an alleged sexual assault incident last season. That means the Dodgers are off the hook for the remaining $64 million they owe him. I’m happy that the Dodgers are off the hook and all and can move on, but this is incredibly unfair to Trevor Bauer. There were no criminal charges filed. There are text messages from this woman telling her friends that they can go to Europe in style after a few more rough sexual encounters. So now Bauer’s career is effectively over. Bauer gets suspended for two years, meanwhile, the Houston Astros actually cheated on the field, got to keep their World Series trophy, and not a single player was suspended. Good to see where Commissioner Rob Manfred has his priorities.

Meanwhile, the Angels are looking pretty good, winning 8 of their last 11 games. They are sitting in 1st place in the AL West in the early going. It’s strange seeing the Halos with some nice pitching too between Syndergaard, Ohtani, and now suddenly Michael Lorenzen has emerged as a force. Taylor Ward has also been doing his best Ted Williams impersonation, and cannot be taken out the lineup anytime soon either. Considering that Shohei Ohtani and Anthony Rendon haven’t really gotten going yet, there is much to be excited about right now for the Halos.

The NFL Draft went down over the weekend, and I’m going to say something super unpopular: it’s extremely overrated and overhyped. Most of these dudes are going to be out of the league in 3 years, yet teams are falling all over themselves to get more draft picks. I have no idea what the hell the Titans were thinking when they traded AJ Brown to the Eagles. The Rams didn’t have a pick until the 3rd round, but they have managed to find some useful players, and even starters over the last few years. You can also never have enough offensive and defensive lineman, so the Rams were wise to take Logan Bruss in the 3rd round, who can compete for the starting right guard spot. The Chargers did the same by taking Zion Johnson, the best lineman in the draft, with a 1st round pick. I feel like we’ve said they had a great draft the past few years, but the talent just hasn’t led to wins on the field. Can’t say I’m going to be surprised if that happens again.