Monthly Archives: February 2024

Monday Morning Coffee

February 26, 2024

What a terrible game by the Lakers against the Suns yesterday afternoon. This team is just so unbelievably inconsistent I don’t even know anymore, and I can’t understand why the never play with any desperation or urgency. Lebron was absolutely right. On any given night they can beat anybody, and on any given night they can get their butts kicked. It would certainly help if they got their better defenders like Jarrod Vanderbilt, Cam Reddish, and Gabe Vincent back, but the harsh reality is Darvin Harm threw away 3/4ths of this season screwing around with lineups instead of building on the chemistry they had last season. He’s still finding a way to screw up the lineups by playing Taurean Prince more minutes than Rui Hachimura. Now, the problem is even if the Lakers go on the type of run they did last season, they still probably won’t get into the top 6 in the Western Conference. Heck, they have the 6th toughest schedule remaining in the NBA, to they will be lucky if they can just get to the 7th or 8th seed. Just to put this in perspective, the Sacramento Kings are on the same pace as last year for total wins, where they finished 3rd in the West. Right now, on that pace puts them in the play-in tournament. Yesterday’s loss definitely won’t help the Lakers cause. Now Lebron is reportedly looking for a 3-year extension after this year, at max money, taking him to 42 years old. Do both sides really want to sign up for this? I guess that’s more so a question for the Lakers, because most of us would sign up for anything for $180 million.

The Clippers might have a problem. Although they were rolling for about 40 games, now they seem to be having problems beating some of the top teams in the West. They got smoked by the T-Wolves and the Thunder, and heading into Sunday were tied for 3rd with the Denver Nuggets, and 2 games out of 1st in the West. Where the Clips need to be concerned is the fact that size and length bothers them a great deal, and their defense seems to be very poor against these elite teams. Whether or not Ty Lue can make the proper adjustments to offset some of these weaknesses remains to be seen, but that’s the only choice they have since we are past the trade deadline.

Spring training is underway in Major League Baseball! I certainly don’t like to draw any conclusions based on the play of a number of guys that will be delivering my Door Dash next week. However, it is exciting to see the Dodgers back in action, and what the potential of the lineup could look like. It should also be noted that they scored more runs in their first spring training game than the last two postseasons combined. That probably speaks more to their postseason ineptitude than anything else. More importantly though, Kike Hernandez is back in Dodger Blue! Who knew their was a Kike Hernandez sweepstakes though? Who does this guy think he is, Lebron James? I’m sure all the ladies in LA will be thrilled though that they get to see Kike in tight pants. I’m also thrilled to see Matt Kemp back with the organization in an Advisory Role. Welcome back home Matty! Looking forward to seeing the spring debut’s of Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto later this week!

As for the Angels, there are multiple sources indicating that the Angels are in good position to land either Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery. I will believe this when I see it though. Other sources inside the Angels have apparently been debating this because they feel like the cost of a single one of those players might not make them competitive. If that’s true, then that’s just a complete loser mentality. Heck if you think you aren’t that competitive to begin with, then why not just blow it up and rebuild your franchise the proper way? Typical Arte Moreno mentality, which makes me think if they do come away with one of those pitchers, it will just be because of public pressure. Perry Minasian and Ron Washington also said they they felt they had enough depth at catcher to release Francisco Meiji, who also had a bad attitude and work ethic. If only they would send Anthony Rendon home for his piss poor attitude. I guess the $38 million they owe him for the next 3 seasons prevents that.

To the NFL, where the offseason is upon us. The Rams have over $50 million in cap space to play with, and a 1st round pick for the first time in ages. That means after a promising season, they have a chance to further improve their team. The first thing they need to do is continue to invest in their offensive line, so they can protect Matthew Stafford. They can do this by re-signing Kevin Dotson, and adding another interior lineman. They also need to add an edge rusher as well, which is a position you can never have enough depth at, as well as get some help at cornerback. They should also be considering finding Matt Stafford’s successor. That’s where the question becomes whether or not they want to use their 1st round pick on the likes of JJ McCarthy or Bo Nix. Especially since next year’s draft is not expected to have a lot of great QBs. This could be their chance to invest in a capable successor. However, knowing Les Snead, he probably has his eye on some stud to trade for with his 1st round pick and armed with tons of cap space.

Then there’s also the Chargers, who are working through their own salary cap problems. They are $45 million over the salary cap, and the biggest question is around what they do with Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack, Keenan Allen, and Mike Williams. Of course Bosa would generate a great deal of trade value, and Mack is coming off a great season, but the solution here is obvious. Just by cutting the injury prone Mike Williams and keeping the rest of the group, they would put themselves $35 million below the salary cap. Then of course they’ll have to decide if they want to invest in Austin Ekeler for another year. Ultimately though, if the Bolts are going to have a successful year, they will need to hit on a lot of their 2024 draft picks, and considering they have all 7 of them, they are in good position to do so.

UCLA’s at-large tournament hopes are officially cooked. After losing to USC at home over the weekend, the Bruins will only be able to make the Tourney this year if they win the PAC-12 Tournament. Plus at this point, their odds of winning the Power Ball seam a lot more likely given how they are playing. Mick Cronin showed how great of a leader he is by taking responsibility and accountability for the loss against USC, saying they had a terrible week of practice and he didn’t prepare them. However, the team simply cannot shoot, and guys like Adem Bona cannot take themselves out of the game with foul travel. All of that is too problematic for Cronin’s leadership to overcome. Meanwhile, Andy Enfield is probably asking to get fired as USC head coach. The Trojans have had an enormously talented roster, but despite the win on Saturday, are one of the worst teams in the PAC-12. I’m not sure USC cares enough though about basketball to make that change.

Finally, court storming became a very hot topic over the weekend after Duke was upset by Wake Forest, and Duke Forward Kyle Filipowski was injured when fans rushed the court. Although I love the fact that court storming happens, and it’s an amazingly cool moment, I can see why it is totally dangerous and should be banned. Are there ways to make it safer? Probably, but in reality, as cool as it is, fans do not belong on the court or field, especially wreckless teenage college students. I am amazed though at the number of people defending it, and trying to find ways to keep it alive in a safe way, even on social media. It’s almost like if it weren’t a Duke player that were injured, more people would want the court storming banned. Why am I not surprised? In any case, we’ll see if anybody can actually ban this, considering the NCAA is completely spineless and powerless in this day and age.

Monday Morning Coffee

February 19, 2024

Happy Presidents Day! That was easily the worst NBA All-Star Weekend of my life time. Every event progressively got worse and worse, with the peak of embarrassment coming last night in the main event. It really just underscores the fact that this generation of players is soft. They claim they don’t want to get hurt. Ok, but you put more effort into training in the summer, but aren’t worried about getting hurt there, so why is this any different? Everybody wants to be an All-Star, but nobody wants to actually own the responsibility of being an All-Star, which should include showcasing the stars of the league in spectacular fashion. That’s how it used to be. There are fans paying thousands of dollars in tickets on the secondary market to watch this crap. Yet the players are just disrespecting them by not putting any effort. The dunk contest on Saturday night was a joke without any big names. At least Jaylen Brown was a legit name that was man enough to do it, even if his performance wasn’t great. Everyone competes in the 3-point contest without fear of getting hurt, so why should the rest of the weekend be any different? Even the Jennifer Hudson halftime show was underwhelming after seeing Usher a week ago during the Super Bowl. On the bright side, that’s probably the most defense a Doc Rivers team has played in a while. Nevertheless, Adam Silver better fix this fast or else the All-Star weekend just needs to end or go the way of the Pro Bowl.

One of the most interesting developments from All-Star Weekend was Lebron James saying that he hopes to finish his career with the Lakers. For all the talk about teams like the Warriors calling and inquiring about trading for Lebron, it was all meaningless. I love Rob Pelinka asking Daryl Morey if Joel Embiid was available, when he called to ask about Lebron. I’m sorry Rob, I owe you an apology, as I wasn’t familiar with your game. You may or may not like the fact Lebron seems more likely to stay a Laker, depending on how you feel about Lebron, but I think it’s a good decision for both sides. Sure you can criticize the Lakers for how they do things. However, you can tell that Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka are very superstar player friendly, and know how to develop good working relationships with the likes of a Rich Paul. By keeping Lebron in purple and gold, it speaks volumes to the reputation of the franchise in getting superstar players to want to buy in and come to the Lakers. I’m not sure if the the Lakers are a championship team, but they are still a good team with Lebron, as long as Darvin Ham isn’t doing stupid things with the lineup. The West is also extremely wide open, even though Denver should be considered the favorite. It sure would help even more to get the likes Jared Vanderbilt, Gabe Vincent, and Cam Reddish back in the lineup to shore up the teams defense.

Meanwhile, the Clippers are 2 games out of 1st place in the West at the All-Star break, and still looking like an excellent team. They have won 7 of their last 10 games, and their stars are healthy and playing at a high level, which is what they’ve always needed to succeed. With that being said, the loss to the Timberwolves last week provided some matchup concerns as we progresses toward the postseason. Specifically, do the Clips have enough size and physicality to win a 7-game series against bigger teams like the Wolves and Nuggets? It almost sounds weird in this era of NBA ball, but size and length in the paint does neutralize a lot of advantages on the perimeter. That can be a concern for a Clipper team who’s strength is on the perimeter and the wing in particular.

In College Hoops, that was a devastating loss by UCLA last night. They looked like they were on their way to a victory against Utah, and then Mick Cronin made a very regretful mistake: he called timeout after a clutch jumper by Dylan Andrews in the final seconds. That gave Utah the time to setup a play, which would eventually beat the Bruins at the buzzer. However, the game wasn’t really lost on that, and it was actually lost when Sebastian Mack found a way to get ejected earlier in the game. Ultimately, that means UCLA will have to win every regular season game from here on out, or win the PAC-12 Tournament. Both of which seem like an impossible task, after the hole they have put themselves in. I thought maybe this team might be able to pull it off and squeeze into the tournament, but their run was too little too late. It’s a shame because to Cronin’s credit, the team really was improving and getting better in close games. Still, the overall talent on this team has to be re-stocked to where it was the last few years. I’m confident that it will give their track record.

UCLA guard Will McClendon reacts after Utah center Branden Carlson scores with less than a second remaining.

Baseball Spring Training is upon us! The Dodgers will get the exhibition schedule underway later this week in Arizona. I know everybody wants to talk about Shohei Ohtani, and I completely understand why the coverage is all about him. However, what I really want to know is how nasty Yoshinobu Yammamoto is going to be. Reports are that his stuff has been absolutely filthy, and there is devastating movement on his pitches. What has me a bit concerned is that the Dodgers don’t plan on using a 6-man rotation this season, according to Andrew Friedman. This is a little surprising to me given how they’ve over-relied on their bullpen the last few years. There’s also the fact that Yammamoto will likely have to throw more innings this year than he’s ever thrown in Japan, Walker Buehler is coming back slow from Tommy John Surgery, and Tyler Glasnow has injury history. Even with the injuries to Clayton Kershaw and Dustin May, the Dodgers have enough manpower to go with a 6-man rotation from the get-go. However, if Andrew Friedman’s computer says no, then I guess we are all wrong.

As for the Angels, Arte Moreno created even more uneasiness last week with his comments to the media. Moreno basically said he has no plans to spend more money to improve the team, no plans to improve their spring training facility, and no plans to negotiate with the city of Anaheim to improve their stadium situation. All this, and he mentioned he plans to continue to own the team. When I first read this I thought it was an article from The Onion. I’m sure that’s what every fan wants to hear. If the Angels aren’t careful, they are going to quickly turn into the Oakland Athletics, but potentially even worse without the farm system they have. At least Mike Trout came out this morning and said that he doesn’t currently have plans to ask for a trade, but by the sound of it, it’s clearly something he has considered and might consider in the future. Leave it to Anthony Rendon though to reiterate that he’s basically just showing up for a paycheck, and that baseball isn’t really that important to him. This guy is probably going to ask if he’s earned enough PTO to take the next month off. Should be a great season in Anaheim. This team will be lucky to win 70 games.

Finally, the LA Kings righted the ship a bit last week, winning 3 straight games on the road, and a couple of in very dramatic fashion. With just 30 games left in the season, the Kings were on the verge of slipping out of a playoff spot before this run, which took firing their head coach, Todd McClellan. Of course it’s not the least bit surprising that promising young defenseman Brandt Clark entered the lineup and made an immediate impact, including scoring the game-winning goal on Saturday. Maybe if the Kings coaching staff and front office would come to their senses and start to play another promising young player, Arthur Kaliev, they might be even better.

Monday Morning Coffee

February 12, 2024

Congratulations to the Kansas City Chiefs on winning their 2nd straight Super Bowl title, and 3rd in the last 5 years. The story is going to be how great Patrick Mahomes is (even though he sounds like Kermit The Frog), as well as how great Andy Reid and Travis Kelce are. However, it was all about the Chiefs defense this season, which got them through a very up and down season, and put them in position yesterday to to win the game in dramatic fashion in OT. I know we always like to kill the opposing team when they lose, and criticize them for all the mistakes they made, but the 49ers played a phenomenal game, and Kyle Shanahan is a great coach. I love how Mecole Hardman caught the game winning pass in the Super Bowl, and got about a 10 second interview on the podium. I guess that’s what happens when you have Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Taylor Swift on your team. Also, Taylor knows how to slam a beer better than most college frat guys.

As for the broadcast itself, in general, Super Bowl Commercials used to be much better than they are today. Everything is so much more conservative in nature, because everyone is so easily offended. With that being said, I thought the Dunkin Donuts Commercial was funny, because Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were very much themselves, especially with all the Boston-isms. I personally was a fan of the Christopher Walken BMW Commercial, mostly because I love a good Walken Impression. Other than that, the commercials were just ok. Usher’s halftime show was on point though. The guy has dance moves, and who knows how he does them in roller skates. I like how everyone thought Taylor Swift was going to just show up and perform, as if the Super Bowl halftime show is like some karaoke bar where you can just grab the mic and start performing.

To the NBA, where the Lakers stood pat at the NBA trade deadline last week. While I’m sure some of you may be dissatisfied, I can’t blame Rob Pelinka for taking that approach. There was no player available at this trade deadline that was going to move the needle for the Lakers and suddenly make them Championship favorites. At best, there were minor improvements that would have cost them far more than they were worth. On top of that, the Lakers best shot to improve this year is getting healthy, and playing more consistent lineups. Spencer Dinwiddie was arguably the best player available, and the Lakers got him for free. That’s how few impact players there really were. I realize this completely goes against most people’s strategy to just microwave a championship, but look around the NBA. The teams that are at the top of the West – Minnesota, OKC, the Clippers, and Denver – are all teams that have kept their cores together for a while. Let’s hope that in the last 30 games or so the Lakers can find that chemistry they did last year and build on it. No more screwing around with the lineups Darvin Ham!

I will never get tired of reminiscing about Kobe Bryant and how he made us all feel. Last week was another reminder of that with the statue of him that was unveiled in front of Arena. The fact that there are going to be three statues of him though is really unbelievable. It also serves as a reminder of just how loved this man is worldwide, especially in Southern California. I’m just astonished though that Vanessa Bryant has the strength to go through this whole ceremony two more times after all she’s been through. Then again, even more so than us, she and her family can never get tired of celebrating Kobe.

The Clippers are still rolling and are vying for 1st place in the West. However, one thing nobody is talking about is Kawhi Leonard as a potential MVP candidate. That’s mostly because he plays for the Clippers, which doesn’t even get you a decent table at an LA restaurant these days. However, over his last 31 games, he is averaging 26 ppg while shooting 56.7% from the field and 50.6% from three. There may not be a player who has been that efficient over that kind of stretch. The Clippers may actually be the only team right now that has the confidence that they could beat the defending champion Nuggets in a 7-game series.

To baseball where the Dodgers re-signing Clayton Kershaw last week was very exciting news! I realize that some of you will roll your eyes at the thought of this given some of his playoff woes. However, for those of you that only pay attention to baseball during the playoffs, let me remind you that Kershaw is still a very good pitcher when healthy. He was 13-5 with a 2.46 ERA, in a season where his healthy was spotty. He will be the Dodgers #3 or even #4 starter this year once healthy, which is a pretty nice luxury to have. He also won’t have to pitch a full season, which could make him that much more effective, and the Dodgers did need a left-handed starter in their rotation. There’s also some sentimental aspects of this. Kershaw really should retire a Dodger, he can’t go out like he did in his last playoff start, and he’s only 56 strikeouts away from 3,000 in his career. All of that deserves another go-around with the Dodgers. Now that that’s taken care of, why not bring back Kenley Jensen? He can still pitch and probably wouldn’t cost a whole lot either.

There is actually breaking news this morning here on Jock Talk LA, which is that DeShaun Foster is the new UCLA Head Football Coach. Before I get to DeShaun, let’s talk about Chip Kelly. The way this dude left is a complete disgrace. We all knew he didn’t care about UCLA Football, hated recruiting, and wasn’t interested in building relationships with alums. Still, Martin Jarmond and Casey Wasserman publicly stood up for him, suggesting our accusations were ridiculous. Well now that Kelly left the job for a demotion as Ohio State offensive coordinator, who looks foolish now? Those guys should be completely embarrassed today. It also goes to show you that college coaches are getting tired of having to recruit kids just to retain their own players and keep them from the transfer portal. Heck, the Boston College head coach left for an NFL Coordinator position with the Packers! The landscape is changing big time. Sure a name like Peter Caroll would have been awesome, but I don’t think he’s coming back to college football with the recruiting so much different now. With that being said, UCLA was given a gift by Kelly leaving. I don’t know if DeShaun Foster will be the long-term answer as head coach. However, I can guarantee you that Foster will care a heck of a lot more than Kelly, the players will like him, and he will make an effort to connect with the alumni. It won’t be an easy transition to the Big 10, but that was to be expected, whoever the head coach was.

Monday Morning Coffee

February 5, 2024

Let’s start with the obvious. The Lakers aren’t going to trade Lebron James, and I didn’t need Rich Paul to tell me that. The Lakers are built with Lebron and AD as their cornerstones, and despite the ups and downs, there’s no reason to move away from that right now. For those of you that want to rebuild, let me remind you of what rebuilding looked like for 10 years before Lebron showed up. Bill Plaschke, take a hike with your trade ideas! As for Thursday’s trade deadline, there is no big name player available that is going to change the Lakers fortunes. With the loss of Jarred Vanderbilt, the Lakers really need a point-of-attack defender like Dennis Schroeder, Tyus Jones, or Malcolm Brogden. Schroeder and Jones shouldn’t cost a whole lot, and maybe could even be had for some 2nd round picks. Too bad Gabe Vincent is about as useful as a door knob this season. I still have no idea how good this team can be, but they sure seem to show up against good teams. Just not the bad ones. Darvin Ham better stop screwing around with the lineups though with about 30 games left. They need to go about 18-13 to stay out of the play-in tournament. As for if Lebron is leaving in the off-season, this is one of those rare times I truly believe he has no idea what he’s going to do. If he wants to make max money, play with Bronny, be on a contender, and play in a city he finds desirable to live in, it will be hard to achieve all 4. He’ll have to figure out what he wants to prioritize, which is why he has that player option.

Meanwhile, the Clippers are continuing to roll, winners of 8 of their last 10 games, and trying to chase down the Wolves and Thunder for 1st place in the West. I doubt the Clips will do anything at the deadline. They already swung their big move of the season with the trade for James Harden, which seems to be working out for them right now. Congratulations to Russell Westbrook for hitting 25,000 career points. He’s certainly bought into his role on this team, which is a far more reduced role at this point in his career than he’s had on past teams, but that makes it better for everyone involved. Would have been funny if the stars aligned and Ty Lue was facing Doc Rivers in the All-Star Game. Even Doc thought it was ridiculous for him to be coaching. I always wonder if any of these guys actually want to be at the All-Star game, as opposed to just getting nearly a week off. My guess is they would prefer the vacation.

Let’s jump to the NHL, where you never want to see somebody lose their job, but the Kings firing Todd McLellan was that right move. Yes the players should feel really bad about it, but ultimately, the Kings still have young players they need to play more and develop to take to the team to the next level. McLellan wasn’t giving those young players the chance they needed, and his veteran players quit on him. The Kings have 3 wins in their last 17 games after starting the season looking like a real cup contender. The real question is if Rob Blake is going to be on the chopping block next if they can’t turn it around, especially after that disastrous trade with the Jets, which gave them a very disappointing Pierre Luc-Dubois. Only time will tell, but the Kings need to turn it around quickly.

Let’s go to baseball, where the thought might seem ridiculous, but why didn’t the Dodgers go after Corbin Burnes? The Orioles acquired the Brewers ace for a can of Coke and a bag of Skittles, mostly because he’s a soon-to-be free agent. The Dodgers have had such a great off-season the thought seems insane, but you can never have enough pitching, and they certainly had the prospects to make such a deal. Nevertheless, all eyes are on whether or not they can get another big bullpen piece, and bring back Clayton Kershaw. At the Dodgers fan fest over the weekend, Dave Roberts said he and Kershaw texted recently, and that they agreed to keep in touch. Unfortunately, this sounds like something you tell your colleagues when you’re leaving a job for another company, and then it never actually happens. We’ll see if Kershaw comes back, but it doesn’t sound too promising. He may just want to pitch closer to home with the Rangers.

Then there’s the Angels, who still aren’t spending a whole lot of money despite their bullpen additions. According to Jim Menolo and Jeff Joyce, on their XM/Sirius MLB hot stove show, they said it was “informed speculation” that the Angels aren’t spending money because the team is about to be sold. I’m not entirely sure I buy this story because even before Arte was looking at selling, this is how he’s managed the payroll the last couple of years. Nevertheless, if this is true, the timing would be somewhat tragic because it would be after Ohtani’s free agency, but I’m sure Halo fans would be excited to have an owner with deeper pockets and a modern baseball thinker moving forward.

I’d like to take a moment to expressed my condolences to the family and friends of actor Carl Weathers, who passed away last week. Weathers was an incredible American actor, who was featured in a number of movies that were significant to American pop culture. Most notably in the first 4 “Rocky” movies, where he played Apollo Creed, Colonel Al Dillon in “Predator”, Combat Carl in the “Toy Story” franchise, and Chubs in “Happy Gilmore”. The man was truly an icon, and should absolutely be celebrated!

We’re just a little less than a week away from Super Bowl 57, where the Chiefs and 49ers will have their showdown in Vegas. Even if you ignore the fact that the 49ers fan base is one of the most obnoxious in football, it’s hard to imagine San Francisco winning this game. The Chiefs have the 2nd ranked defense in football, which is something they aren’t notorious for, which has gotten them to this point. Of course Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Taylor Swift are great, but what really matters here is that Brock Purdy is going to have to find a way to beat the Chiefs defense, which has been spectacular all year. Outside of that I look forward to seeing all the bets on how much Taylor Swift will be shown on the broadcast!

This seems ridiculous to say, but the UCLA Basketball team can still win the PAC-12 regular season title. The Bruins have nine games left, and they are tied for 5th in the conference, but they are only 1.5 games out of 1st place. Considering they will play all the teams in front of them in those 9 games, they could easily get there. They would probably need to make quite a bit of noise in the conference tournament, if not win it, because they don’t have any signature wins against ranked teams. However, the development we’ve seen from Dylan Andrews, and Lazar Stefanovich has been impressive, and was on full display over the weekend in the win against Oregon. Don’t write this team off quite yet!

Finally, I can’t believe that Chip Kelly is actually considering NFL Offensive Coordinator jobs right now. On one hand, I think if he takes one, it would be a blessing for the Bruins Football program because they can get out of his contract, and move on from a guy who really doesn’t like his job. On the other hand, the fact Kelly is considering leaving tells you how far the program has fallen, and how much more difficult it will be in the short run when they move to the Big 10 next year. Still, let’s hope for the sake of the Bruins football program, Kelly decides to go to the NFL.