October 24th, 2016
I’ve been telling you all since last spring that this Dodger team isn’t going to the World Series. The fact they were eliminated by the Cubs in the NLCS on Saturday night doesn’t making it any less disappointing. It was like Steve Bartman was playing left field for the Dodgers. Ok fine, for about two seconds I believed that the pressure might be too great for the Cubs after the Dodgers went up 2-1 in the series. Then I realized that once Kenta Maeda was starting game 5, LA had no chance. Just like the Cubs, the Dodgers have some good young players. However, unlike the Cubs, the Dodgers haven’t adequately supplemented that young talent with the proper veteran support to make themselves a true World Series contender. We’ve been hearing “the Dodgers are close” since 2013. Under Andrew Friedman, they are no closer. The Cubs have a Cy Young candidate themselves in Jake Arrieta. He’s been struggling, but you’d never know it because they have three other capable starting pitchers. The Dodgers don’t, and their bullpen wasn’t as good as we thought. Clayton Kershaw has to do everything for LA. When he and Kenley Jansen fail, that’s all we hear about. I’m surprised Kershaw’s arm hasn’t fallen off given how much he’s pitched in the last two weeks. What we should be talking about is how pathetic the Dodger offense is. How Joc Pederson, Yasmani Grandal, and Josh Reddick can’t hit, and how the team has no speed. Your window to win isn’t forever, especially when you have a great pitcher like Kershaw. When Andrew Friedman decides not to re-sign Justin Turner, Kenley Jansen, and Rich Hill, the Dodgers will be no closer to the World Series, which is really a shame and very frustrating for Dodgers fans.
As for the Cubs, you have to give them credit. Theo Epstein built this team to win now, after suffering through several losing years. What’s a few more losing years when you’ve been waiting 108 years to win a title? Somewhere in a Chicago dungeon, Steve Bartman is in chains celebrating the Cubs victory. I think it’s safe to say that hell has frozen over since both the Indians and Cubs are in the World Series, except one of these long suffering fan bases is going to be extremely disappointed. Here’s a live look at hell.
Remember when Jeff Fisher said the Rams “aren’t going 9-7, 7-9, or 8-8”? Oh yes they are. In completely unsurprising fashion, the Rams went to London, and lost another close game to a non-divisional opponent. There are guys with erectile dysfunction that finish better than this team has over the first seven games of the season. They just don’t have enough playmakers on the roster. My goodness Case Keenum! That was the worst interception of all-time on the final drive of the game. Tavon Austin is supposed to be the teams’ most dangerous weapon, and even he couldn’t be counted upon to hang onto an important pass, which resulted in one of the Giants’ touchdowns. I think it’s safe to say the Rams have regressed towards the mean after a couple of big divisional wins, and that the team is simply average at best. If the team is going to lose, and their quarterback is going to throw four interceptions, then it should be their quarterback of the future, Jared Goff, who is throwing them. Goff is going to go through growing pains, so why not let him do it now? The Rams have a bye week coming up, and the struggling Carolina Panthers after that. Sounds like a pretty good time to get your rookie quarterback in there. Still, I feel like Jeff Fisher is going to hold onto false hope that this team can go 7-2 down the stretch and get in the playoffs. That sounds laughable though, especially given the way Seattle and Arizona are playing now. We can’t find a quarterback better than this?
Elsewhere in week 7 of the NFL, The Falcons reminded that Chargers that they have been collapsing in games way before San Diego made it cool again. The Bolts have suddenly won two in a row, and their new game plan should be to trail heading into the 4th so they can’t blow the game. I like how everyone suddenly believes in Aaron Rodgers again after beating up on the Bears, one of the worst teams in football. Let’s see him do that against some reasonably good competition before we jump back on the bandwagon. Both the Seahawks and the Cardinals deserved to lose that game last night. Seattle is scoring less these days than before Russell Wilson married Ciara. That game ended and Donovan McNabb was still sitting in his living room wondering when the game was going to resume. LeGarrette Blount and the Patriots defeated Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers in “The Weed Bowl”. The Raiders not only beat the Jags, but they discovered the best running back on their team is actually their punter. Sam Bradford did a great job reminding the Eagles why they traded him when Philly beat up on the Vikings. Drew Brees has way more class than me. If I were him I’d be saying after every game that “it’s not my fault our defense can’t tackle.” So that’s what happens when you protect Andrew Luck? He goes off and the Colts actually win. 49ers linebacker Aaron Lynch said San Fran is the most talented team in the NFC after his team got pounded by Tampa Bay. Lynch should be suspended immediately for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Jay Ajayi is like the cocaine boost the city of Miami needed, as the Dolphins got by Buffalo. Ryan Fitzpatrck to Geno Smith, and back to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Does it matter when your team stinks? The Jets only won because the Ravens offense is horrendous. The Redskins should blame Skip Bayless for losing to the Lions. He tweeted that the game was in the bag once the Skins got the lead. If Skip said the sun was going to rise tomorrow, I’d be worried the world was going to end. It turns out that God doesn’t actually hate Cleveland. He just hates the Browns. AJ Green proved this with his miraculous catch.
The UCLA football team amazes me. They find new ways to disappoint on a weekly basis. With their backup quarterback, Mike Fafaul, they found a way to put 45 points on the scoreboard, yet still lost at home to Utah. Where was the much-improved defense that we’ve seen of late from UCLA? The Bruins also have the worst running game in Division I football. How can a school like UCLA not have any halfway decent running backs? The Utes piled up 539 yards of offense, and the Bruins let some kid who retired from college football a few weeks over, run over them for 332 yards rushing. UCLA can kiss it’s hopes for winning the Pac 12 South goodbye, and pretty soon it might be kissing its hopes goodbye just to make a sorry bowl game. After a few years of “coming close”, it looks like the Bruins aren’t that close at all. At best, you might get a win or two against your cross-town rival, USC, who has been down in recent years anyway. However, on the national stage the Bruins are nothing more than an average team. It’s ok Bruin fans, you still have basketball season. Oh wait, nevermind.
Elsewhere around college football, Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbick has ended the speculation. Head Coach, Brian Kelly, will be keeping his job regardless of what happens the remainder of the season. Kelly looks like William Shatner, and there have definitely been moments where I thought Shatner would do a better job coaching this team than Kelly. Still, unless you can find me a better option than Kelly, and there’s not one available that I can think of, the wise thing to do would be to give him another year. He has built enough equity to give him that opportunity. On the scoreboard, huge upset by Penn State over Ohio State. The referees must have been busy watching the Cubs-Dodger game though, because they completely missed a pass interference call on Penn State late in the game that cost the Buckeyes. It really doesn’t look like anybody is going to be stopping Alabama right now. The Tide crushed A&M, and are killing it even though their fans probably aren’t smart enough to count the 33 points they scored. Speaking of killing, Leonard Fournette should be arrested for murder after what he did in the LSU game.
I was in Chicago over the weekend and got in an Uber. It turns out that my driver was a former lineman at Southern Illinois, and his son graduated last year from Michigan and was a starting defensive back for them. The driver spent the duration of the ride telling me how much of a jerk Jim Harbaugh is, and how after just 1 year, all his players hate him. In fact, he went on to say that not only do he and his son despise Harbaugh, but that it would only be a matter of time before he has a mutiny on his hands in the locker room, and he’s out as coach. That may be a little extreme since Harbaugh probably wasn’t hired to be nice to his players. However, I think it’s safe to say that despite his success, Jim Harbaugh is becoming more and more unlikeable with both his players and the media. By the way, the driver also kicked me out of the car when he found out I went to Notre Dame.
To the NBA, where the 2016-2017 season begins this week. The Lakers will open things up at home on Wednesday against the Houston Rockets. This may sound sorry to say, but if the Lakers can win 30 games this season, that should be seen as huge progress. That may be asking a lot though, so if nothing else, I’d like to see some major development from the likes of D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance Jr. If two of those players can become all-stars in the next couple of years, LA will be in a good place. Russell and Ingram look like they have the best chance to do that, so much of this year should be based on development, more so than wins and losses. That development and the establishment of a new culture under Luke Walton is what this season is all about. The early going could be tough since the Lakers have to play the Warriors three times in November. However, as long as we see that development and culture change to re-establish a new Laker foundation, that’s something we can be satisfied with for now. Just remember, the core are basically a bunch of teenagers. You were probably buying booze and sneaking into clubs with a fake ID at that age. It takes time, however, If things break right the Lakers might be back in playoff contention in 2017-2018, especially with some teams in the West getting older.
As for the Clippers, the storyline is going to be similar to the last five years. They have a very good team on paper, but one that probably isn’t good enough to contend for an NBA title. One of these days, Doc Rivers is sure acquire some players that will actually make the bench better. We thought that was the case going into the last two seasons, but it never worked out. Mo Speights, Ray Felton, Brandon Bass, and Alan Anderson seem like nice additions, but that’s probably not going to determine the fate of the Clipps. It’s whether or not the CP3-Blake-DeAndre trio can elevate their game enough to take down the Warriors. That’s a nice trio, but probably not. No matter how hard Doc Rivers tries to convince us and himself that they have a shot, I don’t really believe he thinks they can do it. He knows however, that there’s no better situation for him, and the same with Blake and CP3, who will be free agents at the end of the year. The best case scenario for this team is that they become the 2011 Dallas Mavericks, who caught lightning in a bottle, and managed to snag an NBA title before the Miami Heat got their act together. That sounds far-fetched to me, but the Clipps should be #2 in the West during the regular season. The question is whether or not they can finally make it out of the second round, let alone beat the Warriors.
Who are we kidding? The NBA Finals are going to be the Warriors vs the Cavs again. This time, the Warriors will have too much firepower, beating the Cavs in 5. They are more than head and shoulders above everybody else. Lebron and his children could make it out of the East. There’s a few other teams and stories I’m keeping my eye on though. In the East, the Celtics might be a little improved, but people are acting like Al Horford is the second coming of Bill Russell. The Raptors are still the 2nd best team in the East, but a distant second. I can’t wait to see the disasters that are the Knicks and the Bulls. The Knicks will be Porzingis and a bunch of injured guys. The Bulls can only compete if they find a way to convince the league to get rid of the three-point line. I expect that neither will make the playoffs. In the West, the Spurs will be #3, but the question is whether or not LaMarcus Aldridge will be a part of their core moving forward. I can’t say I see a trade out there that makes the Spurs better without him. The Thunder, Grizzlies, and Mavs had major roster turnover, and will be hard pressed to make the playoffs, but I expect them to hold off the Rockets, Timberwolves, and Suns. I’ve been saying that Jazz will make the playoffs the last two years and have been wrong. Third time is the charm right? That Jazz should make it in this year. It’s going to be fun, until you see Steph-KD-Klay-Draymond and the Warriors rule the league.
Let’s go to the ice where the LA Kings can’t go more than five minutes without losing a goaltender to a groin injury. Jonathan Quick is out for three months, and now backup Jeff Zatkoff is out too with a groin pull. My groin is starting to hurt just thinking about these injuries. Even though Peter Budaj has helped the Kings win two straight, LA can’t spend the next three months playing with goalies who might not be able to stop a beach ball from going in the net. I’d love to see Dean Lombardi pick up the phone and call the Red Wings about Jimmy Howard, who’s salary is high, but could fit with Quick on injured reserve. The Kings may also be able to flip him later for some assets when Quick comes back from injury. Then there’s the Ducks, who are also off the a rough start under Randy Carlyle. Jonathan Gibson seemed like he was a lot better goalie when he had Freddy Anderson pushing him for the starting job. I expect that the Kings, Ducks, and Sharks will turn it around shortly, and will still be the class of the Pacific Division despite their early struggles.
Finally, who isn’t emotionally drained after watching The Walking Dead last night? Spoiler alert for those of you that have yet to watch it, and I’m about to drop some serious spoilers on you if you haven’t so read no further if you don’t want to know. This show was such a blow to the fans, and just to frustrate us even more, Negan’s victims were drawn out until the middle of the episode. Although the show did a good job of providing some misdirection for the last few months, if you followed the chatter online, you knew it was both Abraham and Glenn who were killed in gruesome fashion, and that’s exactly what happened. Damn you Darryl! Had it not been for you punching Negan in the face, we might still have Glenn. Glenn was my favorite character by far. He was saving lives, getting tail, and became a man over the last six seasons. Ultimately though, losing two significant characters was necessary. As angry as you are, if they had just killed Aaron and Rosita, it would have lost credibility and the cliffhanger would have been stupid. Ok, so they could have just made this whole thing 1 episode instead of two grueling episodes and a five month intermission between the two. Ultimately though, the show just couldn’t go where it needed to go without this moment. Frankly, I’m tired of hearing many of you cry about how you’re over the show because of the teasing and taunting the writers put you through. Look television series kill off important characters all the time. It’s all about luring you in and making you believe those characters could never die so that when they do, the dramatic impact is that much more magnified. Apparently most of you forgot that, and for some reason convinced yourself that couldn’t be the case on this show. The bottom line is that we’re still left with a a charming yet very evil villain in Negan, and what could potentially become a new leader in Maggie. Oh, there’s also still plenty of great characters in the show in Darryl, Carol, and Morgan. In other words, stop complaining and let the season play out people!