Monthly Archives: November 2023

Monday Morning Coffee

November 27. 2023

The Rams dismantled Arizona yesterday afternoon 37-14, and Matt Stafford threw 4 TD passes. That was pretty much how I envisioned the Rams winning most of their games this season, but ironically, it’s been their defense that has gotten them most of their wins. Yesterday though, it’s fair to say that it was both the balance of offense and defense that got them the win. It was nice to see Kyren Williams back in the lineup and looking very effective again. Darrell Henderson must be looking for a Sean McVay voodoo doll after this. The Rams have tossed him to the side over and over again. The Rams are still very much in this playoff chase with 6 games left. They’ll have to win the games you expect them to in Washington, New Orleans, and New York. However, they’ll also have to come up with one win against somebody unexpected that is San Francisco, Cleveland, or Baltimore.

As for the Chargers, they were really held in check by the Ravens last night at SOFI. I can’t say I’m surprised because the Ravens are a Super Bowl Championship level team. However, in typical Charger fashion, they made some head scratching decisions. How many times are they going to throw screen passes to 31 year old Keenan Allen, which resulted in nothing?
Quentin Johnston is allergic to catching footballs. I think it’s safe to say the Bolts aren’t as bad as everyone thinks. They are actually much worse! Of course we’ve talked about it ad nauseum, but it’s coaching. Justin Herbert is quickly becoming Matt Stafford in Detroit with Brandon Staley coaching him. The Chargers feel closer to getting a top 5 draft pick than a playoff spot this season.

Nothing could be more UCLA Football than losing to Cal after beating USC. This is a perfect reminder what you get with Chip Kelly. One step forward and one step backward. This man is 34-34. The team is practically burning money for a has-been coach that is giving them average football. The transfer portal opens up on December 4th. There’s a lot of questions about Dante Moore, not to mention, who else might be available to help UCLA improve. However, I’m wondering if we can somehow put Chip Kelly and his bloated salary in the transfer portal and get another coach!

In the NBA, things are looking up for the Lakers. They’ve won 7 of their last 9 games, and they are getting healthier. They’ve been doing this without Jared Vanderbilt, Rui Hachimura, and recently Cam Reddish, who have all turned out to be excellent defenders. Yes, even Cam Reddish, who I suggested should be playing in China not long ago, but then he got his act together and start balling before getting hurt. Even once they get those 3 players back, there’s still a higher ceiling they can get to. Anthony Davis is playing well, but he can still become closer to the Anthony Davis we saw in the bubble, or even at the beginning of last year. Austin Reaves is also getting better, and has yet to reach his ceiling. Right now, I don’t care about the trade rumors. I’m convinced this team needs to work with what they have, because they have what they need.

As for the Clippers, they are trying to figure things out with James Harden in the mix. They did manage to blow out the Mavericks on Saturday, but they have to be a little concerned with that fact that almost half of their wins have come against the Spurs. Since the Harden trade, it seems like Paul George has been the least impacted, and been very consistent with his play. On the other hand though, Kawhi has been very hot and cold, and Russell Westbrook has struggled since going to the bench. Something else to watch out for is if Westbrook suddenly doesn’t become as vocal of a leader in a reduced role, since Harden, Kawhi, and PG, aren’t exactly great vocal leaders. Harden still doesn’t look super comfortable either, shooting just 34% from three. On the bright side, the strip club industry is thriving with the Beard in town!

Everybody is trying to tell you that the worst kept secret in baseball is Shohei Ohtani going to the Dodgers. Although it’s a possibility, I am by no means confident that it’s going to happen. Mostly because the Dodgers typically are risk averse when it comes to giving out long-term deals. Even with money to spend, that’s not really how they operate, with rare exception. More than anything though, I’d like to see the Boys in Blue aggressively go after pitching this off-season. Not only can they sign a starter like Yoshinobu Yammamoto, but they can also trade for an elite one like Corbin Burnes or Tyler Glasnow. It’s probably time to take their farm system depth, and turn it into some reliable major league production.

Meanwhile, the Angels are trying to figure out how to improve their team, but the reality of it is, there isn’t much they can do. The Halos have $73 million committed next season to Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon. Both of them at this point are nothing more than part-time players, and Rendon is much less than that now. Once again, the Angels lack pitching, and pitching costs money and prospects. The Halos have none of that. Their prospects couldn’t even get them James Harden in a trade. This has become such a roster disaster, you have to ask yourself if re-signing Shohei Ohtani is a sound baseball move for them, considering they would be devoting their payroll to three players with very little resources remaining to improve their team. Of course Arte Moreno only cares about the business and marketability of Ohtani, and not about winning. The three of them would have to be in the lineup nearly every game to give the team a fighting chance. Yet the best Perry Minasian could offer was he expects them to be in the lineup “more often than not”. Very reassuring!

On one hand, I’m impressed that UCLA Basketball appears to be much better than everyone thought. All these Euros are making UCLA look like they might be a top 10 team, and team with the potential to win the PAC-12. With that being said, the close losses against Marquette and Gonzaga are a reminder that in big games, they seem to fall short. They are always right there, with a play or two away from conquering the elite. Yet, the execution in these games just isn’t there. The kids are talented, but they are different in all these runs. The common thread? It’s Mick Cronin. He’s a great coach, his team defends well, but there’s a few things he can improve on in these games. He has to trust his depth, and he has to be a bit more creative with some of the offensive play calling. These are the differences in these games that can get the Bruins over the hump.

Finally, on the ice, I’m sure many of you are going to be calling me out for not issuing an apology letter to the LA Kings. I admit, they are playing great hockey, and off to one of their best starts in franchise history. Yes, I’m especially impressed that they have a top 5 defense and a top 2 penalty killing unit, while also having a top 2 offense. With that being said, it’s November. The Kings had a great regular season last year, only to get punked in the playoffs for the 2nd year in a row by the Oilers. If the Kings can keep this up in the spring, they will likely be real cup contenders, then they will get my apology letter. Otherwise, it will be same old Kings.

Monday Morning Coffee

November 20, 2023

The Lakers fought their way to a win over the Rockets last night. They are now two games over .500. Lebron has been ballin, but I wish he didn’t have to expend so much energy in these wins. He’s in year 21, and he can still carry a team, but depending on any 38-year-old to carry your team is a dangerous game. I don’t know who needs to hear this but the answer for the Lakers isn’t trading for Zach Lavine. This guy is a nice player, but you’re going to have to trade D-Lo plus a lot more for him, crushing your depth. Lavine isn’t so much better than D-Lo to give up those kind of assets and draft capital for him. I won’t even bother addressing the idiots suggesting giving up Anthony Davis for Lavine either. Unless somehow Donovan Mitchell becomes available, the Lakers will need to just work with what they have, and find a way to build the momentum they had last year. That team didn’t reach their ceiling, so there’s still room for improvement.

Brilliant master PR class by the Clippers last week. They had to let the the world know that it was Russell Westbrook who told the coaching staff he wanted to come off the bench and sacrifice. Yea ok guys, sure thing. Especially after Russ didn’t speak to the media after the Clippers beat the Rockets on Friday. The Clippers are definitely playing better in the last couple of games with Harden in the lineup, but the offense is still very clumsy looking, with all these guys playing “your turn, my turn” offense. That will only get you so far, but let’s see if this team can develop any kind of chemistry in the coming weeks before getting too far behind in the Western Conference standings.

To baseball, where we should all just be prepared for stupid things to happen in this offseason. Aaron Nola is a 30 year old pitcher who gives you some moments, and he signed a 7 year $172 million contract with the Phillies. If he’s worth $24 million a season, I’m sure Blake Snell, Yoshibobu Yamamoto, let alone Shohei Ohtani, will get stupid money. However, it’s just the going rate if you want to improve your ball club right now. Even someone like Dylan Cease, who the Dodgers are reportedly trying to trade for, would cost crazy amounts of prospects because of his cost control. That sounds crazy, but not as stupid as the rumor the Dodgers could trade for Mike Trout. Why? So they can add a guy making boat loads who is never available? I don’t believe that one for a second.

In College Football, USC laid an egg against UCLA on Saturday at the Coliseum. They looked totally unprepared from the start. For USC to finish the season 7-5, and likely headed to some garbage Las Vegas Bowl, that couldn’t be more disappointing for them and their fan base. It’s also devastating for Caleb Williams, who has probably played his last game at USC and is going to the NFL. Lincoln Riley has tons of work to do, namely adding defense, discipline, toughness, and a running game to his program. That could be tough in the short run when going to the Big 10. As for the Bruins, it was a nice win, they played with desperation, as if their coaches job was on the line. While I give Chip Kelly credit for having his boys prepared, I still thinking keeping him as coach is ridiculous. This isn’t what the Bruins signed up for with him when they decided to pay him $30 million. No top recruits at all. If they are content as a perennial bowl program that stays within the rules and graduates players at a high rate, they can do that without having a coach that is so expensive. Kelly also isn’t even personable with the media and the UCLA community either, which is tough to deal with when you’re just a mediocre coach. Plus if Dante Moore enters the transfer portal, that blame squarely falls on Chips shoulders.

In the NFL, the Rams pulled out a gutty win against the Seahawks yesterday. Matt Stafford took a massive hit, yet somehow recovered in time to help LA win. However, Cooper Kupp injured his ankle, and could miss some time. This team feels like it’s being held together but duct tape and super glue, yet they are still in the NFC Playoff chase with a 4-6 record. The Packers, Vikings, and Seahawks all seem very vulnerable in the standings, but I feel like the Rams are going to be kicking themselves from those losses to the Packers and Steelers the last few weeks. I sure hope Sean McVay can find a way to better protect Stafford, who has the mobility of a sub-zero refrigerator, over the next couple of weeks. Otherwise, he’s going to get lots of aggravation watching Carson Wentz take every snap.

Can we stop pretending like the Chargers are going to do something with this “super talented roster” we keep hearing about? The Bolts fell to 4-6, and only have a better record than two AFC team: the Titans and Patriots. They made Jordan Love look like Dan Marino, and they once again, could not hold onto a lead. Love became the fifth quarterback this year to throw for at least 300 yards against them. Losing Joey Bosa to a foot injury won’t help their cause, but they have bigger problems than that. Brandon Staley is now having meltdowns both on and off the field, snapping at reporters who question the quality of his defense. Staley claims that they are losing because of other mistake the team made, such as offensively, but he’s forgetting the fact that he’s supposed to be a defensive coach. I don’t care how good Justin Herbert is, if they can’t slow down the opposition’s passing attack, they are going to be watching the playoffs from the couch.

Chargers linebacker Joey Bosa grimaces as he's taken by cart off the field after suffering an apparent foot injury.

Elsewhere around the NFL in Week 11, the Ravens and Bengals played the worst game of all-time on Thursday for Fantasy Football Owners. Joe Burrow and Mark Andrews injuries, also hurt the NFL product too. Russell Wilson and Courtland Sutton turned into Tom Brady and Randy Moss at the end of the Broncos win over Minnesota. The Bears defense was so bad against the Lions, they might have stood a better chance using cones instead of lineman against Jared Goff. The Giants are going to petition the league to see if they can play against the Commanders every week from here on out. Meanwhile, Zach Wilson couldn’t do anything right yesterday: missing receivers, tripping over himself, running into Robert Saleh and taking him down, as well as getting tea bagged by his opponents.

Finally, everybody is talking about NFL sideline reporter Charissa Thompson’s claim that sometimes she has to make up stories while reporting on the sideline because sometimes the coaches won’t talk to her. She will not receive any blowback from her employer about this, nor should she. She also shouldn’t receive criticism from her peers, who are complaining the most. It’s like they are upset because they think we’re suddenly going to realize that so many people in journalism aren’t really telling us the facts, but just make up their own news anyway. The lines between journalism and opinions have become extremely blurred, to the point where you basically have to do your own homework to determine what’s factual and what isn’t. This goes way beyond sports, and is just part of journalist in general these days. I don’t love it, but what are people so upset about, pretending like this is earth shattering news? Frankly, Thompson’s made up stories, are still probably way more real than many of the other stories we hear throughout the sports world. Sorry journalists, the jig is up!

Monday Morning Coffee

November 13, 2023

The Lakers beat the Blazers last night, but they are so obnoxious right now. When you hear Lebron, AD, and other members of the team talk, they act like it’s injuries that are responsible for their mediocre start. Sorry but that’s a lame excuse. They re-signed all these guys for continuity. This same supporting cast led the Lakers to the playoffs last season with Lebron and AD coming in and out of the lineup. Now suddenly they can’t play? Before last night the Lakers were +53 with Lebron on the court, and -77 with him off the court. In 81 minutes with Lebron and AD on the court together the Lakers are -78. This team is just lazy, unfocused, and their coaching staff is giving away games to experiment with lineups. The worst part about it is in this particular stretch, they should be banking tons of wins because their schedule is softer than Charmin toilet paper. No the answer isn’t trading for Kyrie Irving, or wrecking the team for some third star. It’s just being focused.

Meanwhile, the Clippers have lost 5 in a row, and are struggling to fit James Harden in with their team. I’m not saying it’s not going well, but the Clippers are a -28 with Harden on the floor so far. Now, Ty Lue is staggering the minutes of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Russell Westbrook, and Harden. That’s actually even worse because it’s prolonging the time it’s going to take for these 4 to build chemistry together. The bigger concern though if it does take a long time for these guys to build chemistry, will Harden complain and start sitting out again? It sounds ridiculous, but nothing would surprise me anymore with this guy.

To baseball, where the hot stove is heating up with all the off-season rumors. Nothing has happened yet, but there’s tons of speculation around the Dodgers. We know Shohei Ohtani is going to be pursued, but acquiring pitching has to be a priority. Tony Gonsolin will miss 2024, Dustin May might miss most of it. Clayton Kershaw, even if he returns, will miss half the season, and Walker Buehler is going to be on an innings limit. That means Japanese 25-year-old Yoshinobu Yammamoto needs to be signed, and if they can trade for Corbin Burnes, that would fix a lot. I know everyone wants them to re-sign Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner, but I don’t really see either one. Bellinger’s best years are behind him, and after one respectable bounce back season, the Dodgers shouldn’t pay him big money. Besides, they have James Outman, who is young, cheap, and improving daily. As for Turner, yes he can hit, but he’s not the defender he once was. The Dodgers can do better with finding a younger, more athletic, infield bat.

As for the Angels, they hired Ron Washington as their new manager. This one is actually somewhat impressive for the Halos. Washington is a real name that has led a team to the World Series. However, that was a decade ago, and baseball has changed since then. It’s a much more analytics driven game, and managers have even less control now than they used to. In some ways this reminds me of the Joe Madden hire. Madden had success with the Cubs, but the game changed a lot by the time he got to the Angels. That’s exactly where we are with Washington. I’m sure the Angels celebrated his hire by taking him out to Zankou Chicken and having Washington pay for Arte and Perry Minasian’s meal.

The Chargers looked fantastic on offense yesterday, but equally as atrocious on defense. I was told Brandon Staley was a defensive coach. So much for that. Big plays were again a problem Sunday as the Lions generated eight that netted at least 20 yards. If you have a defense with Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack, and Derwin James, you shouldn’t be getting gashed like that repeatedly. I guess this is what happens when you can’t play the Jets and Bears every week. The Bolts have 8 games left, and the have 5 teams to climb over to get to the playoffs. Considering they have to play the Ravens, Bills, and Broncos in that stretch, I have a hard time envisioning this team get into the playoffs, let alone finish the season over .500.

The Rams are in the midst of a bye week, and they definitely need it. They signed Carson Wentz last week, which I don’t expect to go well. Wentz may look like Prince Harry, but he certainly doesn’t have much going for him as an NFL quarterback anymore. This also goes to show you just how concerned the Rams should be about Matthew Stafford. What’s really a shame is that Stetson Bennett is out for the season for some kind of personal reason. That kid looked like he had some promise to develop behind Stafford and maybe even a quarterback of the future for this team.

It turns out that firing Alex Grinch wouldn’t instantly solve USC’s problems. The Trojans got beat by Oregon on Saturday, which ended their hopes of playing in the Conference Championship game. The result was not surprise given how USC has played the last month, but the game was very symbolic of most of USC’s season. Poor execution on defense, Caleb Williams was under pressure, and the team was very undisciplined. I’m sure it’s disappointing for the Trojans, who badly need to beat UCLA next week just to save some face for Lincoln Riley. There’s a lot of larger picture questions to be answered after this year, and if Caleb Williams departs for the NFL, quarterback will be one of them once again, in addition to the defensive issues they’ll need to solve.

Then there’s the Bruins, who lost a shameful game at the Rose Bowl to Arizona State. I’m sorry but there are simply no excuses to lose to a team with nothing to play for, that basically gave up on their season weeks ago. Even if UCLA was missing it’s top two quarterbacks, their talent is head and shoulders better than ASU’s. This is all on Chip Kelly. When the Bruins decided to fork over millions for him to be their head coach, this was not anywhere close to the expectations. In fact, the results have arguably been worse than the previous two regimes, yet they are burning so much more money. Even worse was the extension they gave Kelly about 10 months ago. How you can possibly think that things will get any better with Kelly as the coach when they are headed to The Big 10 next year? Martin Jarmond is going to have a lot of questions to answer to the Bruin alums.

Pasadena, CA - UCLA head coach Chip Kelly on the sidelines during a Pac-12 Conference.

At least UCLA can feel a little better about themselves because basketball season started. The Bruins are 2-0, albeit against 2 underwhelming opponents, but right now they’ll take the wins any way they come. So far, it’s very hard to know just what this team is, as they have a very European look to them. Adem Bona looked like a beast in the first game, and just an average player on Friday. The same can be said for Dylan Andrews, who was way down against St Francis- PA, and way up against Lafayette. The guys I’m most interested in seeing what they are though are Lazar Stefanovic and Aday Mara. Stefanovic played well against Lafayette and logged 35 minutes. He wasn’t all that efficient but he was looking for his shot more than the first game, and appeared more comfortable. Aday Mara on the other hand looks very out of place so far, so he looks like he’s a little bit away from making any meaningful contributions. Honestly, the best thing about this team is the unknown. Then again, it’s also the worst.

UCLA guard Dylan Andrews is fouled by Lafayette guard Devin Hines while driving to the basket at Pauley Pavilion.

Monday Morning Coffee

November 6, 2023

That was just an embarrassing loss by the Rams yesterday against the Packers. I haven’t seen anything so humiliating since last week against Dallas. Brett Rypien looks like some guy the Rams pulled out of the stands to play QB. Les Snead couldn’t have swapped their 6th and 7th round picks with Arizona for Josh Dobbs? He’s a far better option as a back-up. Was a great move by Minnesota in attempt to salvage their season. The Rams needed to give the ball to Darell Henderson and Royce Freeman about 35-40 times yesterday to win, but instead, they got behind and needed Rypien to throw it 30 times. It wasn’t just Stafford’s injury that hurt, as Tyler Higbee was banged up, linebacker Ernest Jones and right tackle Rob Havenstein were out too. The defense actually held up yesterday, but the Rams aren’t going to be able to win if their offense is that inept. No need to overthink this though. It’s not coaching, like Samuel L. Jackson tried to point out on Twitter yesterday. It’s injuries. It stinks, but that’s how it is sometimes and you need to accept it.

I’d just like to point out that when the Chargers wake up this morning, they are going to be looking at the AFC West standings and see the Raiders with more wins than them. That’s right folks, the Las Vegas Raiders, who currently don’t have a coach or GM. I know what you’re thinking folks. Having Brandon Staley as your coach is like basically not having a coach, but that wasn’t the expectation coming into this season. Tonight will be a very interesting test for the Bolts against the Jets and their tough defense. Something to watch tonight will be what the Chargers do offensively after halftime. They’ve scored only one touchdown over their past four second halves. That can’t continue if this team is going to go anywhere in 2023.

To College Football, where it finally happened. USC lost to Washington, but Defensive Coordinator Alex Grinch was relieved of his duties. Apparently giving up 571 yards of total offense and extinguishing any remaining hope of a PAC-12 Title was the final straw. By almost every available metric, USC has one of the worst defenses in college football. Through 10 games, the unit has given up 34.5 points per game, on pace for the worst mark in school history by a wide margin. The real issue though is the lost opportunity for the Trojans, as their defense struggled in the last month of last season, giving up 2,000 yards in the last month before losing in the Cotton Bowl to Tulane. The signs were there, but Lincoln Riley didn’t make a change. Had he then, this season may have turned out very different. In the big picture though, Riley will need to fix his defense in a big way if he intends to meet the expectations of USC and their fans.

Then there’s UCLA, which lost to Arizona in the desert on Saturday night. That’s one loss that makes you say “same ol’ UCLA”. The Bruins made so many mistakes, they missed three opportunities in the red zone, and came up empty on two field goal attempts. These are the types of losses that were not supposed to happen when they hired Chip Kelly. Things were supposed to be different. Not only are they not different, things are worse. After 6 years, Kelly would have to win 16 straight to equal Jim Mora & Bob Toledo’s winning % at UCLA (they were both fired after 6 & 7 yrs respectively). He’s 5-28 against teams who finish with a winning record & he enjoys a -294 point differential against these teams. Imagine paying all that money for Kelly, only to lose more games! Where is that GIF of The Joker burning money? The idea that UCLA needs consistency joining the Big Ten and therefore can’t fire him is nonsense when you consider that the only things they’ll ever be under Kelly are consistently out-coached, consistently out recruited, and consistently outplayed.

To the NBA, where the Lakers are not looking sharp at all in the early going. They are 6 games in, and just 3-3. There’s no need to panic, as the win against the Clippers was solid, but there are some disturbing patterns. There’s no urgency to start games, as they’ve consistently trailed by double digits at the end of the 1st quarter every game, and their 3rd quarters are poor too. They also show a complete lack of interest and engagement at times, which we saw on Saturday against Orlando. This team isn’t old. They are actually fairly young outside of Lebron and AD, but need focus and consistency. They are very capable of getting it, even with all their injuries. I’d also like to see the ball in Austin’s hands more to relieve the usage of Lebron, and get him going more. The Lakers next 9 games are against crummy opponents, so they should really be able to reel off 8 or 9 wins, but they need to focus. Injuries are no excuse with their depth. Lebron says the Lakers are like the Steelers, who have been outplayed statistically in all their games but have a winning record. Except the Lakers don’t have a winning record. I get where you’re going with this Lebron, but this is more reasons why kids need to go to college!

Lakers forward LeBron James (23) drives to the basket past Magic forward Jonathan Isaac.

As for the Clippers, they finally pulled the trigger on a James Harden trade last week. This is one extremely risky trade for the Clips, which gives them a very high ceiling, but a lower floor, especially in future seasons. The Clips plan on moving Harden to the 2, and having Russ play the point, with PG, Kawhi, and Zubac in the front court. While that sounds great on paper, this isn’t 2016 anymore. Harden is best as a playmaker with the ball in his hands, especially as he’s gotten older. Russell Westbrook is not a great shooter, so floor spacing could be a problem for this group. Plus, when I hear Harden talk, he claims that “he is the system”, which makes me think he’s going to show up in LA and think offensively he will eat first. Only time will tell here if this will work, but we’ll get our first look at the new look Clippers tonight in New York. Harden will also be disappointed to learned that since he’s a Clipper, he’ll get treated as a second class citizen in LA, resulting in getting seated by the bathroom in every restaurant he goes out to.


In baseball, the off-season is upon us. Something tells me, Shohei Ohtani is going to be making a free agent decision in the next few weeks, and maybe even before Thanksgiving. Dude has only had 6 years to decide, so I’m pretty sure he knows what he wants at this point. There was also some Clayton Kershaw news last week, when he announced that he will undergo shoulder surgery, and is hopeful to return to play at some point next summer. Now the question remains if he returns, will that return be for the Dodgers? The man has definitely earned the right to do whatever he wants, and if that is to pitch for his hometown Rangers, the defending World Series Champs, then so be it. However, I still feel like reaching 3,000 strikeouts and finishing his career in a Dodger uniform would be much more meaningful for him. For those of you saying, “He stunk in the postseason, I want him off the team,” Mookie and Freddie stunk in the postseason for 3 games, and you don’t want them off the team. Clayton Kershaw as your #4 starter would actually be pretty nice. I’m sure Andrew Friedman and his computer will make the right decision here.