Let’s start with some baseball where the Dodgers managed to clinch the NL West in San Francisco last week, and were fortunate enough to secure home field advantage in the NLDS against the scuffling Mets. I’ve been as critical as anyone all season long about the Dodgers, whose payroll is larger than the GDP of many small countries. However, I have no problem with them celebrating the way they did after the clinching the division. The baseball season is longer than any other season, so these guys deserve the right to let loose a little. However, they know that they will be judged by how they perform in the postseason. The Dodgers and Mets are pretty evenly matched on paper, but LA has the big edge in starting pitching. I sure hope Don Mattingly isn’t going to roll the dice and put Yasiel Puig in the lineup for the NLDS. LA is also catching a huge break in only seeing Matt Harvey in game 3. If Kershaw and Greinke are brilliant, and I mean so brilliant that the rest of the bullpen has little to no use, and if the Dodgers can put up a little bit of offense, they should be able to beat the Mets in four games. I’m not so confident in how they’ll do after that though.
As for the Angels, they had a nice run while it lasted, but their playoff hopes were obliterated after yesterday’s loss to Texas. In some ways, I’ve gotta hand it to these guys for battling as hard as they did until the last day of the season. The fact they came so close to sneaking into the playoffs is almost amazing considering the team had more drama than a daytime NBC soap opera. Josh Hamilton was a distraction they had to get rid of, so was the Jerry Dipoto-Mike Scioscia battle, and CJ Wilson proved unreliabe . Then again, the Angels had plenty of opportunities to clinch a wild card spot, and even the division over the last two months, but suffered some major late game collapses. The collapse against Oakland last Wednesday was the real the kick in the balls. The starting pitching and the bullpen just wasn’t what it was last year, and the lineup had some holes in it. If there’s one thing the Angels need to do this off-season, it’s get some organizational stability. That starts with getting a GM who is on the same page as Mike Scioscia. The Angels have named Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler their new GM, so hopefully he and Scioscia can play nice. Now that they’ve done that, they can plug the holes at 2nd base and left field. They aren’t that far away from contending, but Albert Pujols isn’t getting any younger, while the Astros and Rangers are only getting better.
To college football where the Bruins laid an egg on Saturday at the Rose Bowl against ASU. I love how UCLA urged fans to show up on time for the game. Turns out it was the Bruins who didn’t even show up for this one at all. The offensive line provided about as much protection for Josh Rosen as a busted condom. The running game was non-existent, nobody could catch a pass, and the defensive couldn’t stop the Sun Devils ground attack either. I thought this was a different UCLA team, but it looked eerily similar to what we’ve seen the past few years: A couple of big wins followed by a major let down. The good news is that the Bruins only fell to #20 in the polls, and aren’t really out of contention for anything. The bad news is that the schedule ahead is a mine field. UCLA has a bye week, then travels up north to play #16 Stanford, followed by #23 Cal at home. Both games are on Thursday nights, which Coach Mora bitterly complained about. Every team can be expected to have a let down somewhere along the way. However, this one had an all too familiar feeling to it.
Elsewhere around college football, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Brian Kelly for completely blowing the season for the Irish. Notre Dame lost at Clemson 24-22, and Kelly blew it by going for two points instead of the easy one point after the first Irish touchdown. If that wasn’t bad enough, Kelly called a stupid play in the final seconds, foolishly trying to get his quarterback, Deshone Kizer, to run in into the end zone. I used to think that Kelly looked liked William Shatner, but now I think that he is Shatner because their coaching ability is about the same. I love their heart, I love their depth, but that game was lost on coaching. Four top 10 teams lost over the weekend. Ohio State and Michigan State barely survived their games. I’m sure OSU is trying to schedule Devry and University of Phoenix instead of MSU before the season ends. TCU plays absolutely no defense. Florida abusing Ole Miss just proves how disgustingly overrated the SEC is right now.
Let’s talk about week 4 in the NFL. The Browns lost to the Chargers yesterday in the most Cleveland Brown way possible. Josh Lambo nearly blew the game for the Bolts, but redeemed himself on a 2nd field goal try, after Cleveland jumped offside. What has happened to all the NFL kickers? They are about as accurate Hellen Keller’s parallel parking. Josh Scobee blew that game for the Steelers on Thursday night against the Ravens. After missing three field goals, he was seen on the sideline looking for jobs on Monster.com in the 4th quarter. The Cowboys had 3 more players out after losing to the Saints. Next thing you know, their fans are going to be blacked out from drinking another shot of tequila. Big play by Drew Brees to win that game. Boy, wait until Chip Kelly gets his system in place. I’m sure everyone will be shaking in their cleats when that happens. The Broncos are the sketchiest 4-0 team I’ve ever seen. After the Dolphins embarrassing loss to the Jets in London, Miami officials are attempting to get the entire Dolphins roster on the U.S. no fly list so they can’t return to this country. Todd Gurley is going to be a really good NFL player. What happened to Colin Kaepernick? The guy nearly won the Super Bowl a few years ago, and now he can barely complete a pass. An arrest warrant has been issued for the entire Falcons roster on charges of assault, rape, and murder against the Texans. It appears as though the Houston Texans season is over before the Houston Astros. I’m sure we all could have predicted that one. The Colts are fortunate they play in a division that is a dumpster fire. Andy Dalton and the Bengals are making it very difficult to make jokes about them since they are tearing it up right now. With the Bears win over the Raiders yesterday, they are assured of not going 0-16. The parade will be held on Tuesday on Michigan Avenue. Odell Beckham made the greatest catch ever that never counted against the Bills…….
The Lakers had their 1st preseason game last night against the Jazz in Hawaii. I think the Lakers had one too many Mai Tai’s before this one. LA shot about 28% from the field, got crushed on the glass, and more importantly, Nick Young and Ryan Kelly are having serious issues with their hair. There were a few bright spots though. Lou Williams was a great free agent signing for the Lakers, and he came for a bargain. That dude can score. It was good to see Kobe back on the floor, even in limited minutes. Just seeing the guy on the floor and physically able to play is a victory in itself. Every now and again, D’Angelo Russell makes a pass where you go “OMG!” It’s going to take time, but the talent is there.
As for the Clippers, I don’t like to draw too many conclusions from preseason games in any sport, but as sports fans….it’s what we do. Paul Pierce is going to be a great fit for the Clipps. He probably knows Doc Rivers playbook better than most of his other teammates. Meanwhile, Lance Stephenson looks just a crappy as he did last season in Charlotte. He can’t shoot, he’s out of control, and he looks lost. The Clippers have so much depth that they simply aren’t going to find minutes for all of these guys and keep them happy at the same time.
Let’s go the ice, where the Kings and Ducks are ready to start the season this week. The Kings defensive depth is already going to be tested with Matt Greene and Jake Muzzin already hurt. LA is an outside favorite to contend for another cup. However, they are going to need some unproven kids like Jordan Weal, Nick Shore, and Michael Mersch to play big roles on the 3rd and 4th line. They probably need to acquire another quality defenseman as well. Without that defenseman, i like the Kings to finish 2nd in the Pacific, but lose in the 2nd round of the playoffs. As for the Ducks, they are once again loaded with talent, but can they come through when it matters in the playoffs? Anaheim has even more speed now with Carl Hagelin, and with the development of young defenseman Hampus Lindholm, they are what you would call “the paper Stanley Cup Champions”. Unfortunately for them, Stanley Cups are won on ice, and not on paper. I like the Ducks to have another great regular season, finishing 1st in the West, but I don’t think coach Bruce Boudreau is the guy to lead them to a cup. The Ducks make it to another Western Conference Finals, but lose to the young and upstart Nashville Predators. I say the Predators go on to win the Stanley Cup over the New York Islanders.
It’s October and that means the fall TV series are back! Season 5 of Homeland was back on Showtime last night. It’s really amazing how much this show has changed since Season 1. I have to say, after a couple of crappy seasons, it’s back to a very solid combination of thrills and drama. Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see the the first episode of the new season. It definitely hurts to see Carrie and Saul as cold to each other as they were, but you know it’s only temporary. I like how Carrie has a new boyfriend who looks exactly like Brody. It’s probably only a matter of time before Quinn and Carrie cross paths. I think he’s really going to need her in Berlin. I like how we were all led to believe that the Middle Eastern guy walking through the Berlin Airport was a bad guy. Instead, he seems to be a computer hacker working against terrorists. Then again, just because he’s not a bad guy, doesn’t mean he’s working for the good guys. This seems like classic Homeland drama. I love the fact that his username is “douchebag” spelled backwards. Nice job by Carrie getting herself kidnapped to ultimately give her more safety in Lebanon. The whole concept of Carrie as a mom is way too weird. It’s a good start for the 5th season. Hopefully it continues that way and doesn’t go out with a whimper like last season.
And finally, the season finale of Fear The Walking Dead was on AMC last night. When i saw FTWD trending on Twitter last night I assumed it was because another Dallas Cowboy player was injured. But seriously……the show is simply moving too fast. Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see it. The real fascination with the show was everything that was going on before the world fell apart and the zombie apocolypse started. That all happened way too fast. Now there’s supposed to be another season of this? I don’t see how it can deviate too much from Fear The Walking Dead and be entertaining. Travis was by far the most interesting character. From the start of the show until now, he transformed from a weak minded, can’t come to grips that this is actually happening male, to a near Rick Grimes type attitude where he was forced to kill his infected ex-wife. This was actually somewhat anti-climactic because it occurred after they escaped from all the chaos. I found the whole thing entertaining, yet very unsatisfying. Especially considering the writers never even addressed the question of what Ophelia thinks about Daniel, now that she knows he’s a torturer. They don’t need to keep the show going. It gave us a peek about how it started, but let’s just bring back The Walking Dead next week and stick with that.