Monthly Archives: May 2023

Monday Morning Coffee

May 29, 2023

As a Laker fan, you wouldn’t normally say this after a season without a championship. However, it’s true: this season was actually a success. They completely re-invented their team with 20 games left in the season, and made the conference finals. Yes, the Nuggets were simply a better team, the Joker is the best player in the world, and Jamal Murray was video game good. There’s nothing to be ashamed about though. I don’t actually believe Lebron will retire, and I don’t actually believe that when he alluded to retiring that it was some kind of a passive aggressive ploy to make the team better. I think he was just emotionally exhausted from a long year and felt like he and AD gave it their best but ran into a red hot Nuggets team, which will probably win the NBA Championship. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but even though it was four close games, ultimately, I think Lebron and AD have to be better in the biggest moments. There’s no need to overthink the off-season though. The Lakers should do their best to run it back and try to re-sign as many guys as possible. Forget any stupid ideas of signing Kyrie Irving, trading for Trae Young, Damian Lillard, or some other expensive start that will gut the team. The Lakers should re-sign their young core, and they can still make the team better with some other attractive assets like Malik Beasley, Mo Bamba, Max Christie, and their 1st round pick. That’s a pretty good situation to be in heading into what I think will probably be Lebron’s final year with the Lakers.

Elsewhere around the NBA Playoffs, if the Celtics actually beat the Heat tonight and become the first NBA team to come back from an 0-3 deficit, I won’t be speaking to anyone for at least 3-5 business days. The Celtics will probably win tonight because they are playing game 7 at home. However, given all their inconsistencies at home, it would be the most Celtics thing to do to lose that game.

In the madness of all the Laker talk, nobody is talking about USC Athletic Director Mike Bohn stepping down. Bohn allegedly made inappropriate comments about the physical appearance of female colleagues, which made staff members feel uncomfortable. Reports also surfaced the Bohn was under investigation while he was with Cincinnati as well. It is now apparent that after all the scandals that USC had been dealing with, which Carol Folt was brought in to clean up, absolutely nothing has changed. So Folt had no idea that Bohn had a history of this in his previous job? She’s either an idiot, or integrity means nothing to her. One or the other, and nothing in between. Clearly at some point USC had a hunch this was going on, because they hired an investigator to look into what Bohn was doing. Ultimately, nobody should be surprised. If you make money for USC, they will look the other way until they are forced to do something about it. That’s what happened here when the Times started inquiring about the situation, so Bohn was forced to resign, or he would have been fired. Now Folt is probably going to pretend like she’s really woke to combat the public perception against her. USC Football may be back, but their integrity as a program remains in shambles.

USC athletic director Mike Bohn stands inside the Coliseum

To baseball, where the Dodgers are doing it. Despite most people thinking they would take some massive step back this year, they are in 1st place in the NL West, and have the 2nd best record in the NL. More importantly, they are doing a great job of trying to win now, while letting their young players develop in the big leagues. Miguel Vargas and James Outman have had their moments, but we need to be patient. It was one month of red hot baseball for them, and one down month for them. However, the Dodgers lead the NL in runs scored, are 2nd in homers and slugging percentage. The team is hitting. Ironically, it’s the pitching that’s been the issue, and that’s largely because of injuries to the starters. Dustin May and Julio Urias are down, Clayton Kershaw has had to deal with bereavement and body fatigue, and Tony Gonsolin has been injured and not the same as last year. I know everyone is waiting for the Dodgers to win the bidding war for Shohei Ohtani this winter, but there’s still a lot of other ways for this team to improve and win a World Series. If the Dodgers want to win now without mortgaging the future, they should call the White Sox about pitcher Lucas Giolito, shortstop Tim Anderson, or the Royals about closer Aroldis Chapman.

As for the Angels, it was a rough weekend after getting swept by the Marlins. They slipped to 4th in the division, and 6 games out of 1st place. Still, they are only 3.5 games out of the Wild Card spot. If the Halos are so determined to keep Shohei Ohtani and not trade him under any circumstances, they should really be doing everything possible to make the playoffs. That means they should be feverishly calling teams to try and make a trade to improve their club. They are in the top 5 of the AL in most offensive categories, but the pitching is in the bottom 3rd of the league. They should be scouring the league for starting pitching and bullpen help. Their farm system isn’t amazing, but they’ve had some young players featured in the lineup lately, that might help them improve their team in a trade.

To the NFL, where the Cardinals released DeAndre Hopkins. I bring this up because there is relevancy for the Rams. First of all, it means one less team that is competing in the NFC West. This looks like the Cardinals are giving up on both Kyler Murray, and competing in the division next year. It also gives the Rams an outside chance at signing the talent receiver and adding him to their talented and underrated offense. However, I think the priority for them would be adding a veteran running back.

Then there’s the Chargers who finally worked something out with Austin Ekeler. Ekeler is one of the best running backs in the league, yet is somehow only making $8 million next year. By NFL running back standards, Ekeler might as well be on food stamps. It also goes to show you how much the running back position has been de-valued in the league. Ekeler tried hard to try and find someone to pay him but he couldn’t. That’s good news for the Chargers, because they need all the help they can get to overtake the Chiefs.

Monday Morning Coffee

May 15, 2023

The Lakers are going to the Western Conference Finals. If you predicted this was going to happen in Mid February, at the time everyone would have thought you should be locked up in an insane asylum. Their defense against the Warriors was elite, Lebron and AD delivered when they were called upon, and the role players stepped up. They may not be favored, but this team has a reasonable chance to not just beat the Nuggets, but to win an NBA Championship this year. Those of you that wanted to trade Lebron James, Anthony Davis, fire Rob Pelinka, and have Jeanie sell the team, can send your apology letters to the El Segundo headquarters. Don’t forget about Darvin Ham, and all the right adjustments and buttons he’s pushed thus far. The Nuggets have arguably the best player in the world right in Nikola Jokic. However, Anthony Davis seems to get the better of him when they play. Howver, this version of Jokic is peak Joker. Plus the Nuggets have a great pick and roll challenge with Jamal Murray, and way more depth than when they last played LA in the postseason in 2020. If the Lakers execute at the top of their game, they can win this series. If not, they’ll get dismantled. As for the outside chatter, everyone wants to beat up the TNT guys and Stephen A Smith for laughing at Anthony Davis, but go easy on them. Their job is to entertain, and they do a damn good job. With that being said, I don’t think they treat the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Chris Paul the same way they treat AD, which isn’t fair, but that’s what comes with being a Laker.

Elsewhere around the NBA, the Celtics took down the Sixers to advance to the East Finals. Doc Rivers has now coached seven teams that have blown a 3-1 or 3-2 series lead. It’s a tradition unlike any other. Then there’s the Suns, who got destroyed in another elimination game, this time with KD. If The Suns get eliminated in a blowout by a team with another Euro, Joe Biden might start sending them money. Speaking of Euros, how did Mark Jackson not even have Jokic on his MVP ballot? Don’t ever let that guy assemble any IKEA furniture because you know he doesn’t read any instructions.

What’s the deal with Ty Lue? Dude is under contract with the Clippers, but his name keeps coming up with other jobs. The Bucks, Raptors, and Suns are all in the market for a new coach, and his name has come up as a candidate for two of those jobs. If these teams didn’t really think he could be had, why would his name be out there? It’s an interesting situation to keep an eye on and understand just how sold both sides are on each other. It’s possible Lue is frustrated with the injuries and lack of availability of his stars. He may feel like it won’t get any better if Kawhi’s people insist on continuing to load manage. From the Clippers standpoint, if they can get a 1st round pick for Lue, and solid coaches like Mike Budenholzer, Monty Williams, and Nick Nurse are out there, then how married are you to Ty Lue? Stay tuned Clipper fans.

The Dodgers swept the Padres over the weekend, and don’t look now, but the Boys in Blue have the best record in the National League. I was told that the Padres were going to run the NL West and that the Dodgers are made up of a bunch of scrubs this year. Turns out none of that was true. The Dodgers have won 13 of their last 15 games, have a 3 game lead in the NL West, and 7 game lead over the Padres, who aren’t even in the NL playoff picture at the moment. Mookie Betts is also crushing it, with 6 homers in his last `5 games, and Freedie Freeman is cooking too. It’s certainly a long season and it’s always about October with the Dodgers, but right now, there’s a lot to feel good about.

As for the Angels, they lost 2 of 3 to the Guardians over the weekend, so are now 4.5 games out of 1st place in the AL West. They won for the first time in forever in Cleveland on Friday, but the pitching and bullpen in particular let them down on Saturday and Sunday. The Angels schedule won’t get any easier this week with a four game set at the Orioles, followed by three at home with the Twins. Both teams have been playing well.

Monday Morning Coffee

May 8, 2023

Well here we are again. The Lakers are up 2-1 in a best-of-seven series, getting ready to play game 4 at home. Will Anthony Davis show up in game 4 tonight? He seems to take every other game off. Will Darvin Ham actually have his team prepared to play and not relax against the defending champs tonight? I fully expect the Warriors to shoot better, and play with more urgency and desperation tonight. However, the reality is the Lakers have beaten the Warriors in 5 of the last 7 games since January, and that’s because they match up well against them. The Lakers should continue to dictate the tempo, own the paint, and have the advantage at the free throw line. Oh you think it’s weird that the Lakers are shooting so many more free throws? It’s pretty hard to get to the line when you are launching 50 three pointers a night. By the way the Lakers had the most free throw attempts per game during the regular season, and the Warriors had the fewest, so if you’re surprised at the free throw disparity, you just haven’t been paying attention. The fact Lebron, AD, and most of the starters rested in the 4th quarter the last two games is huge for an older Laker team. Heck, the fact Austin Reaves played while the team was up 26 points should be a human rights violation. If the Lakers are focused though, they can and should win tonight. If not, they will cause themselves some major problems because the Warriors will get 2 of the last 3 games at home, and we know they are a much more dangerous team at home.

Elsewhere around the NBA Playoffs, the Sixers tied their series with the Celtics 2-2. Unfortunately for Laker fans, the Celtics are looking like a good bet to reach the NBA Finals. When Boston loses these days, white people are more surprised than when Hootie and The Blowfish broke up. They’ve still got 2 of the next 3 at home, and James Harden only shows up occasionally for Philly. He balled out yesterday, but he probably celebrated by going to the strip club, which will take him down for a few days. Then there’s the Nuggets and Suns, which is now tied 2-2 as well. I just don’t think the Suns have enough depth behind KD and Booker. They need Kevin Durant and Devin Booker to combine for 75 points every game, and even if that happens, that might not be enough with all the depth the Nuggets have. I have my doubts the Suns can do that two more times in the next three games.

Since the Clippers season ended, Lawrence Frank, their top basketball executive, spoke to the media about the team’s future. He said some interesting things about the teams future, some of which might surprise you. Frank acknowledge that “injuries suck”, and that the team simply needs better luck with keeping their stars healthy. He also said that they plan on continuing to build around Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. With that being said, he said they need to take the regular season much more seriously and approach it with a sense of urgency. I’m not sure how Kawhi Leonard and his people feel about this, since they are so insistent on handling him with kid gloves during the season. I also couldn’t help but notice that he declined to say whether both players would be offered contract extensions after next season, when they are eligible. The reality of it is the Clippers have no choice but to take this path. Stars are hard to come by, the Clippers have them, despite their lack of availability. Even if it’s crossed their mind that they want to trade them, nobody is trading for a player that is making over $40 million a year and available for only half the season. The Clippers also have to keep in mind that they are moving into a new building after next season, so they need big names to sell tickets in that building.

USC basketball got some exciting news yesterday. Bronny James, the son of Lebron James, has committed to playing basketball there next season. Bronny’s recruiting has felt more secretive than information about Area 51. It came down to USC, which was close to home, Ohio State which is close to his birth place, and Oregon which is close to Nike. However, since most schools knew this was his mentality, it probably depressed the demand for his services. It’s also surprising that Bronny picked a school that has a lot of wing players he will be competing with for playing time. This is probably also a good time for USC students, alums, and fans to realize that they actually have a basketball team, and that they may want to even show up to some of their games next season.

To baseball, where the Dodgers took 2 of 3 over the weekend against the Padres at Petco, and overall, they have been playing pretty good baseball. They are at the top of the division once again. There’s all these complaints that the Dodgers just aren’t that good this year, and it’s like everybody thinks they are suddenly playing with a bunch of scrubs in their lineup. Max Muncy leads the league in home runs, Freddie Freeman is top 10 in the league in hits, and Will Smith and Mookie Betts are still two of the best players at their positions in baseball on any given day. They all reminded you of that over the weekend. Actually, despite the brilliance of Clayton Kershaw this year, the Dodgers rotation is middle of the pack in terms of ERA. That’s almost unusual for them, but it feels like they will get better as the season goes on. The Padres still look like a team with a bunch of big names that just have hype. For all their talent, at times they simply appear undisciplined, and we’ve seen numerous instances of these big name teams that don’t perform when hit matters. Heck the Dodgers were one of those many teams last year! Danny Lehmann filled in as the Dodgers Manager on Saturday night while Dave Roberts attended his sons graduation. He probably found it remarkably easy to read off the spreadsheet Andrew Friedman provided him. As for Kershaw, there was much talk over the weekend about the Padres putting up a crying meme of Kershaw on the scoreboard on Friday night. Not sure why this is such a story. It’s an opposing teams ballpark. It wasn’t anything wildly malicious. Besides, Kershaw was a man about it, and said if you don’t want to see that then pitch better. It’s sports people. Don’t be soft. People are acting like they insulted his family or something.

As for the Angels, they dropped 2 of 3 to the Rangers over the weekend. The Halos had won 5 in a row prior to that, and just like last season, they are sitting near the top of the division in early May. The difference this season? The Angels feel like they have more depth than they had last season with all their positional players. Their pitching however, is very much a work in progress outside of Shohei Ohtani. Heading into the weekend, the Halos were 16th in ERA with Ohtani. Remove him from the equation, and their ERA goes up significantly. Their bullpen has already account for more than half of their 16 losses as well. That ERA only got worse over the weekend after the Rangers were basically taking batting practice at The Big A the last two days. Still, Perry Minasian seems confident that the Halos have the organizational depth to improve from within on the mound. Up next they’ll get 3 with the Astros, in another important early season divisional matchup.

Monday Morning Coffee

May 1, 2024

The Lakers are off to round 2 after taking down the Grizzlies in 6 games.   Dillon Brooks really said Lebron is old and won’t respect anybody until they give him 40.  So Lebron turned around and gave him a 20-20 game, then the Lakers obliterated Memphis by exactly 40.   What a clown Brooks is.  He couldn’t even make a shot either.  He talked all this trash, yet played like he had his flight booked to Cancun by Saturday.   As for the Lakers, it was really good to see D-Lo carve up the Grizz in a big playoff game, especially with Kyrie sitting courtside.   If you don’t want to give D-Lo credit, it’s because you don’t want him back with the Lakers next year, because you have a Kyrie agenda.  I think the Lakers got their preferred match up in Golden State instead of Sacramento.  They are an older team, will play at a slower pace than the Kings, and the Lakers have wing defenders they can throw at them.  Anthony Davis should easily have his way against the Warriors as well.  I’m sure Lebron will be punched in the balls by Draymond within the first two games though.  Other than that should be fun. This also feels like some destiny too for Lebron to get revenge against Steph for beating him all those times in the finals.

As for the Clippers, their season ended again with Kawhi and Paul George injured.  What a disappointment this has to be for Steve Ballmer.  Is he really going to put up with this for two more years?  I realize that Leonard and George were really hurt, but they practice and play so little together, there’s no way they can build strength and conditioning, or any kind of team chemistry. These dudes show up to work less frequently than a millennial that’s still hanging on to his work from home days.   I’m sure Russell Westbrook is also going to get a lot of love from the Clips after how he played.  It’s true that Russ played better with the Clippers than the Lakers.  However, it doesn’t change the fact that his inability to shoot and high turnover frequency makes him a late game liability.  That can be absorbed by some teams with depth, but I’m really not sure the Clippers are one of those teams, even with all their depth.  Reality of it is, this is the Clipper team for the next two years.  All they can do is hope for chemistry and health. Ballmer didn’t hesitate to end the Doc, CP3, Blake era, so I’m sure he won’t hesitate to end this one either. The problem is, Kawhi and PG probably aren’t nearly as tradeable as he would want right now.

To the ice where the LA Kings had a very disappointing ending to their season.  They were eliminated by the Oilers in six games, in another 1st round series with the division rivals.  Just because we thought the Oilers would win doesn’t make the outcome any less disappointing for the Kings.  They simply need to defend better, get better goaltending, and be more disciplined.  There was supposedly a sewage leak at the Kings practice facility last week.  That was probably just the team practicing their penalty killing.  For all the focus around improving their offense, which they did, they got away from the things that made them champions nearly a decade ago: defense and goaltending. This was my concern all along when they focused so much on changing their style of play.  It takes discipline , defense, and goaltending to win in the playoffs.  It always has, and unfortunately, the Kings will have to face the Oilers frequently in the coming years.  If they want to get by them, they’ll have to figure out how to build a team that can beat them, while also building a team that can win the Cup.

To baseball, where the Dodgers cured their problems over the weekend by sweeping the Cardinals.  They should clearly petition the league to play them every game.  Nevertheless, the Dodgers are tied for 1st in the NL West and continue their up and down play.  Clayton Kershaw once again looked spectacular over the weekend, and is now 5-1 with a 1.89 ERA.  The new pitch clock rules don’t seem to be bothering him.  I know Max Muncy leads the league in home runs, but when is Andrew Friedman’s computer going to move James Outman higher in the lineup? He’s been excellent.  I suppose Friedman’s software is still refreshing.

As for the Angels, they lost two of three over the weekend to the Brewers.  They are still hovering around .500, but 3rd in the division.  Shohei Ohtani is continuing to mash monster home runs, and all people do is talk about how much money he is going to get come the winter time.   Are the Angels really going to put up with this distraction all year? I know the answer is yes, but if we know the outcome is inevitable, why put themselves through this madness and get something for him?  Meanwhile, Mike Trout is still elite, but there’s not much else.  Anthony Rendon is making $30 mill and has hit as many home runs as you and I have this season. It sure would be nice if they could get some production out of him while they are paying him.

Do you know what 54 million people did this weekend? They watched the NFL Draft.  That’s insane to me, but more power to the league for commanding this kind of draw.  For some reason “The Rams have no picks” was a running joke in the NFL community for months, but they ended up with the most picks in the 2023 NFL draft with 14 draft selections.  I suppose that’s also because casuals only care about 1st rounders.  They did however, manage to replenish their offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, and running back positions.  Stetson Bennett is also an interesting pick at quarterback, who may succeed Matt Stafford in a couple of years.   The Rams will be young, but more competitive than most think in a weak NFC.  One thing is for sure though, the Eagles are loaded.

Meanwhile, the Chargers had a solid but not spectacular draft.  Most players they drafted probably won’t start in 2023, but some might in 2024.  That speaks to how good the Bolts roster is.  Unfortunately, the question will inevitably be, is the roster good enough to beat the Chiefs? As long as Patrick Mahomes is around, the answer might be no.  There’s also the fact the Chargers didn’t draft a running back.  That tells you that one way or another, Austin Ekeler will be back next year and they will work things out contractually.  Ekeler doesn’t have any suitors either, which means unfortunately for him, he has little contract leverage.