Monday Morning Coffee

April 15, 2024

I know what you’re thinking. I was thinking it too. But don’t let your mind go there. The Lakers aren’t going to tank Tuesdays play-in game against the Pelicans for the 7th seed, just so they can avoid the Denver Nuggets in the 1st round of the playoffs. It’s way too risky. They would face a one-game do-or-die game against either the Warriors or Kings at home, and both could easily defeat them and end their season. They would probably also be much more fatigued going into round 1. Look if they lose on Tuesday, it’s a small silver lining, but they need to win. The Lakers have a tremendous matchup advantage against the Pelicans, as they showed yesterday. I expect a much closer game, but the Lakers should win that game. Assuming that Darvin Ham doesn’t do anything stupid. He must have Googled how to use a timeout prior to yesterday, because I was shocked he used one early when the Pelicans cut into their lead. His rotations were a little improved, but I still don’t understand how Max Christie can’t see the floor when he’s one of the best defenders and three-point shooters on the team. I’d rather see more of him than Gabe Vincent, who’s played 3 months of good basketball in the last few years.

Meanwhile, the Clippers wrapped up the regular season by resting a lot of player in their last three games, and they’ll face the Mavericks in round 1. This time, the Clippers have to be nervous. Not only are the Mavs a much better team than before with Luke and Kyrie, but the Clips health is in serious question. Kawhi Leonard hasn’t played in three weeks due to knee inflammation, and Ty Lue sounds extremely uncertain that he will be available. This is the exact nightmare scenario the Clips thought they were going to avoid this year. James Harden hasn’t exactly been super healthy of late either, but the Clips have to hope that 5 or 6 full days of rest and no travel will help them. If Kawhi isn’t available though, I think that’s going to be too much for the Clips to overcome this time.

To baseball, where the Dodgers dropped 2 out of 3 against the Padres over the weekend. The Dodgers still have the most wins in the NL, but they are still looking for more consistency from the bottom of their lineup with Chris Taylor, Gavin Lux, and James Outman. Lux and Outman are showing sporadic signs of life, while Chris Taylor still doesn’t have a pulse yet. I’m curious to see how long the Dodgers put up with this minimal production. On the pitching front, they did lose Bobby Miller to a shoulder injury for a period of time, which fortunately does not sound serious . This of course brings up the topic of injuries to pitchers around baseball. It’s simple to me: the human arm isn’t built to throw a baseball at over 90 miles per hour, and with the type of spin the pitchers are throwing with. In the 70’s and 80’s arm injuries were not as common in baseball, and we conditioned pitchers to throw well over 100 pitches. Today, they are told to throw as hard as you can for as long as you can, and then team will use tons of relievers to back them up. As long as that philosophy continues, pitchers will always get hurt.

After the details of the investigation around Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter and his gambling scandal were released last week, maybe now we can finally put this story to rest. For weeks, all we did was hear from those Junior FBI Agent Keyboard Conspiracy Theorists on Twitter, suggesting Ohtani was doing the gambling himself. Suddenly, those people don’t really have much to say anymore. The FBI has basically exonerated Ohtani after their investigation, and concluded that he is a victim of theft in this situation. Since we always seem to think the court of public opinion matters in these situations, Ohtani’s history should give you no reason to question his character, or to think he’s lying. It certainly didn’t seem to impact Ohtani on the field, since he’s been playing great baseball. However, I’m sure it’s a relief for him to have it behind him.

As for the Angels, they dropped 2 of 3 to the Red Sox over the weekend, and are now a game under .500 in the early going. The good news is that nobody in the AL West is tearing it up, and only the Rangers are a 1/2 game in front of them for 1st place. There are in fact a few positive things that are happening. They play good defense. Reid Detmers is emerging as a reliable starting pitcher. Mike Trout is doing Mike Trout things, and Taylor Ward and Logan O’Hoppe look good as well. The rest of their lineup however, has a lot of inconsistencies, and they don’t have a whole lot of pitching depth. It’s early and the Halos have a history of giving people high hopes in the month of April. However, if the Halos can find a couple of more reliable players, they might find a way to sneak into a wild card spot. Of course that means the ROI has to be there for Arte Moreno, who probably won’t see the value though, considering he didn’t see the value in Blake Snell.

Angels reliever José Suarez reacts after giving up a two-run home run to Boston's Masataka Yoshida at Fenway Park.

As many of you are aware, OJ Simpson passed away last week after battling cancer. I realize that the initial reaction of a lot of people was somewhat of a celebratory. However, the idea of thinking that way just seems weird to me. Yes, it totally obvious that OJ got away with murder. However, to say “he got what he deserved” or “I hope it was painful”, just feels like we’re turning ourselves into animals like OJ himself, if we take that approach. He was clearly ostracized from society after the murder trial, and while that’s not true justice for what happened to Nicole and Ron, it’s the punishment he got.

Congratulations to Scottie Scheffler on winning the Masters for the second time in his career! He was dominant from start to finish, and showed why he is the number one golfer in the world. It was also really good to see Tiger Woods finish the full round of 72 holes in a major, after coming off major ankle surgery. Just making the cut for Tiger is an accomplishment in itself, considering the guy can probably barely practice at this point. We definitely saw some flashes of brilliance from him the first two days, and then he struggled as the weekend came. Nevertheless, hopefully we can see him play in the PGA Championship, the US Open, and the Open Championship.

Scheffler toasts another triumph at Augusta National.

Finally, the LA Kings clinched a playoff spot last week with a win over the Flames. However, now comes the part we’ve all been waiting for. Who will they play in the playoffs? Who are we kidding though? They are going to play the Oilers for the 3rd year in a row. They will probably also be eliminated for the 3rd year in a row by them, given their inconsistencies. This feels like the 1980’s when the Oilers absolutely owned the Kings in the playoffs before the Kings traded for Wayne Gretzky. Here’s to hoping I’m wrong, but it’s hard to imagine them pulling this off.

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