Monday Morning Coffee


November 7th, 2016

It’s time to start planning the Laker championship parade right? Ok, maybe not, and I know it’s way too early to be drawing any conclusions about just how good the team is.  However, after taking down the Suns last night for their 3rd straight win, and improving to 4-3, there’s a few key takeaways from the early going.  Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell are developing quite nicely, and learning how to make an impact on the game in a number of ways that we didn’t see last season.  There’s also way better offensive structure and ball movement than last season’s train wreck.  It feels like we see more ball movement in one possession this year than we did in an entire game last season.  There’s also a much greater effort and accountability on the defensive end, even though many of the teams younger players are still learning how to defend at this level.  Much of that can be attributed to the job Luke Walton is doing, especially since the players look like they are having fun.  At minimum, the Lakers are becoming fun to watch again, just as Larry Nance reminded us on Friday night……..

As for the Clippers, they are off to a hot 5-1 start.  On Saturday, Blake Griffin looked like the second coming of Karl Malone, and J.J. Redick looked like Mark Price.  With those two playing like that, it would’t have mattered if Tony Parker and Danny Green had been in the lineup for the Spurs.  Besides, Tony Parker has played more like Sarah Jessica Parker so far this year.  As I said earlier, it’s way too early to be drawing conclusions.  However, in the early going, it’s starting to feel like the West has some aging teams aging teams like San Antonio, Memphis, and Dallas, which the Clipps can take advantage of.  I fully expect the Warriors to become more dominant as the season goes on, and they find their chemistry.  However, if the Clipps are going to contend, Blake and DeAndre have to dominate in the paint.  That’s the edge they have over almost every other team in the league.  The only question is whether or not they decide to take advantage of it.

I guess that bye week didn’t make the Rams offense any better.  LA lost their fourth straight yesterday, this time to Cam Newton and the struggling Panthers.  The Panthers followed the usual “beat LA” playbook by stacking the box and daring Case Keenum to beat them.  That strategy worked beautifully, as Keenum missed some very important throws.  Keenum is the worst person to play the Coliseum, and OJ Simpson killed two people.  Roger Goodell should order him to move back to St. Louis.  As if Keenum isn’t bad enough, his pass catchers like Lance Kendricks are dropping touchdown passes. I’m not sure how much longer Jeff Fisher is going to make us endure the Keenum era, but the fans yesterday were not only chanting “we want Goff”, but things got so bad, the fans even chanted “we want Tebow”.  Wait until next week when the Rams travel to New York to play the Jets.  Case Keenum vs Ryan Fitzpatrick? That’s almost as bad as Hillary Clinton vs Donald Trump.  The Rams have not only reverted back to the team we thought they might be, but much worse.  Fans were headed to the exits yesterday with plenty of time left in the fourth quarter.  I guess they wanted to beat that Uber surge pricing.  Football in LA is back, and just like I remember it.

Elsewhere around week 9 of the NFL, Melvin Gordon continued his Jim Brown imitation, as the Chargers topped the Titans.  The real question for the Bolts though is what’s going to happen on Tuesday when the City of San Diego votes on funding for a new stadium.  The Raiders are relevant for the first time in a decade after beating the Broncos last night  The Eagles are back to looking like the Eagles again.  Eli Manning ate his Lunchables before the game, and the Giants took down their division rivals.  To make it more fair, the NFL should spot the Browns 14 points before every game the rest of the year.  I guess it wouldn’t have mattered anyway yesterday, when Cleveland got blown out by the Cowboys.  The Saints crushed the 49ers, and for the love of God, Chip Kelly needs to go back to coaching college football.  It was the Colts all over the Packers.  A squirrel ran onto the field and gained more total yards than the Packers did all day.  Good thing the Steelers fans have those terrible towels.  They needed them to dry their tears after losing to the Ravens.  Minnesota’s running game is worse than it’s weather.  The Vikings lost to the Lions in OT.  The Chiefs got by the Jaguars, but the highlight of the game was seeing Travis Kelce getting ejected from the game after throwing his towel at the official.  The Dolphins outlasted the Jets in what was “The Incompetent Quarterback Bowl”, and the Bucs were the latest team to get destroyed on Thursday Night Football, when they got dismantled by the Falcons.  This was the worst onside kick in the history of the NFL…….

Off to the college ranks, where the Trojans made it 5 in a row by crushing Oregon at the Coliseum on Saturday.  We’re going to get a lot of answers as to how good the Trojans are next week when they take on Washington.  The reality of it is that three of the last five wins have come against three of the worst defenses in college football.  However, I’ve always said what makes life so difficult for the Trojans is the fact they constantly have to live up to the greatness of the players in the Pete Carroll era.  Some of these players are now doing things that we haven’t seen since the Carroll era.  Sam Darnold has been putting up video game numbers we haven’t seen since the Matt Leinart, added another 309 yards and two touchdowns against the Ducks.  Compared to some of his other recent performances, that was rather unspectacular.  Then there’s sophomore running back Ronald Jones, who tied Lendale White’s school record of four TD’s in a single game on Saturday night.  That comes after running all over Cal the week before for a career high of 223 yards.  I guess nobody is talking about Clay Helton getting fired anymore either.  Next week will tell us just how far USC has come since the beginning of the season.

As for the Bruins, they can’t even hope to go to a crappy bowl game after losing to Colorado.  UCLA would need to win out for that to happen, and with games against USC and on the road against Cal later in the month, the odds of Kanye West becoming the U.S. President in 2020 are better than a Bruins bowl appearance.  When you look at the big picture, it doesn’t seem all the bad for the Bruins.  They have been within a play or two of winning all their games, they have a new pro-style offense that usually takes a full year for players to adjust to, and their defense is much improved.  Even though you wouldn’t expect UCLA to win those close games without Rosen, their inability to become elite with our without him could not be more disappointing.  Their running game has been nonexistent, and their receivers drop more balls than average local high school players.  The last couple of years have been one excuse after the next when it comes to why UCLA can’t get their football program to the next level.  It’s been a soft schedule that the Bruins just couldn’t take advantage of.  I guess nobody is treating this as a crisis since UCLA is a basketball school.  Except right now, it isn’t that either.  More on that shortly.

How bad has it gotten for Notre Dame? They just lost to Navy, and are now 3-6.  Somewhere, Rudy is drinking a bottle of Jameson and holding a shotgun.  The Irish probably aren’t even going to go to a bowl game, although if they did, they should call it “The Toilet Bowl”.  The punters in that Alabama vs LSU game were really earning their money.  ‘Bama still #1 in the country after that ugly game.  Just give Lamar Jackson the Heisman Trophy already. Texas A&M got upset, but of course in the eyes of the playoff committee, LSU and Texas A&M have the most important thing on their resume: a loss to Alabama. Arkansas pulled off the upset over Florida.  The Razorbacks haven’t beaten the Gators since Michael Jackson was black.  Clemson, Michigan, and Washington dominated, and should all be in Tuesday’s latest college football playoff poll.

To college hoops where that so called “basketball school”, UCLA, is opening up their season on Friday.  The Bruins are #16 in the preseason poll, but are going to be facing some stiff Pac 12 competition.    Arizona and conference favorite Oregon, are both ranked in the top 10.  The Bruins ranking is all coming based on two recruits: Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf.  Ball is one of the most hyped prospects I’ve seen coming out of high school, so much so that I’m concerned that he isn’t going to live up to the ridiculous expectations.  Leaf is a solid player as well, but UCLA has had great recruiting classes in recent years that haven’t vaulted the Bruins into national championship contention.  However, the Bruins non-conference schedule isn’t too bad.  Their only tough game is at Kentucky.  The teeth of their schedule will actually be once they get into conference play.  Aren’t you impressed I haven’t even ripped Steve Alford yet after writing all that about UCLA basketball? I’m sure there will be plenty of time for that though as the season goes on.

Well the Cubs did it.  They won the World Series, ending their identity as “the lovable losers”.  I’ve gotta tip my hat to the team, and its long suffering fans.  The last time the Cubs won the World Series the dinosaurs were roaming the earth.  That game 7 was really one of the best I’ve seen.  Of course some poor 100 year old Cubs fan probably died during that rain delay.   This has to be payback for all those Cleveland fans that were making fun of Warrior fans for blowing a 3-1 series lead a few months ago during the NBA Finals.  If nothing else though, the last few months have put Cleveland back on the map as a sports city, despite all the depressing things about that town.  There were two things I loved about the final out of game 7.  Kris Bryant fielded that ground ball at 3rd base with a gigantic smile on his face, which was hilarious to watch.  Then there was Anthony Rizzo, who had the presence of mind to actually put the ball in his pocket after the final out.  Amazing that he remembered to do that in all the commotion of the celebration.  Rizzo might have actually listed that ball on Ebay by now.  In any case, congratulations to the Chicago Cubs.

Speaking of baseball, the Angels made the first move of the baseball offseason by acquiring Cameron Maybin from the Tigers.  The Halos have had a black hole in left field for the last couple of years, and prior to this trade, I was beginning to think they should hold open tryouts for fans for that position.  However, since they couldn’t find a decent left fielder, Billy Eppler decided that he would trade for a center fielder, and just move him to left him.  The cost wasn’t very high, and Maybin has a reasonable contract, so this seems like a pretty good move.  The real question is whether or not Maybin can stay healthy because he’s had some very unlucky injuries the past few seasons.  Nevertheless, it’s a decent start to the offseason for the Angels, who need to plug holes at 2nd base and catcher next.

We may be coming closer to the Dodgers TV blackout coming to an end.  The U.S. Justice Department is suing DirecTV over colluding with other cable companies to keep the Dodgers off-air.  If AT&T is going to proceed with it’s Time Warner merger, it will probably need to settle this lawsuit, and that will ultimately mean putting the Dodgers on DirecTV.  I’m not really sure how the U.S. Justice Department is going to force the exorbitant price of SportsNet LA on cable providers, but cable companies are starting to get desperate.  More and more people are cutting the cord, and resorting to streaming alternatives to get the content they want.  If you try hard enough these days, you can probably watch whatever content you want for free.

On the ice, the Kings finally won in regulation.  I don’t even remember the last time that happened.  If you think that’s rare, they got goals from Trevor Lewis, Kyle Clifford, and Devin Setoguchi, who hasn’t scored since high school, in their 5-0 win against the Flames.  With all due respect to Setoguchi and his quest for NHL redemption, I’d really like to see the Kings give their younger players from Ontario a chance to develop at the NHL level.  Instead of hoping veterans like Setoguchi, Teddy Purcell, and Tom Gilbert can acquire some career reviving magic, I’d much rather see promising young players like Nic Dowd, Kevin Gravel, and even Michael Mersch try to make an impact.  The Kings did it before in 2011-2012 in their first run to winning a Stanley Cup.  No reason to not follow that path this year, especially during a time with so many injuries.  As for the Ducks, they’ve looked a lot sharper the last few games.  They throttled the Kings, then pounded the Coyotes and Flames.  Anaheim is starting to gain some ground on those upstart Edmonton Oilers in the Pacific Division.

Are you ready for the election? I’m ready for it to be over.  That way I don’t have to have to listen to somebody telling me how “out of my mind” I have to be to vote for Clinton or Trump.  Never have I seen such passion and anger from two political candidates.  This race is becoming a lot closer than I thought it would be, and frankly, either outcome is possible come late Tuesday night.

Finally, another intense episode of The Walking Dead went down on AMC last night.  Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see it, so read no further if you haven’t seen it yet.  This episode was all about Negan, his relationship with Dwight and his wife, and their efforts to break Daryl.  The real question out of this episode is whether or not you feel bad for Dwight and his wife Sherry, or not.  Even in the world of The Walking Dead, there’s only so much one should do to remain alive, otherwise life is just too unbearable to go on with.  Dwight and Sherry had choices to make, and they made poor ones out of fear.  Sherry had the chance to go to Alexandria, and probably could have convinced Dwight to come too.  Instead, they left themselves susceptible to the mercy of Negan.  I found it laughable when Dwight and Sherry were speaking to each other, claiming that they were better off at the mercy of Negan, rather than being dead.  That sounds highly questionable considering that Dwight got half his face burned off, and had to endure losing his wife Negan.  What’s the point of living in this world if you have to sacrifice so much? The best part of all this is that Dwight is just getting more and more angry at Darryl because Negan likes him, and because he’s learning that Daryl has the strength that Dwight wishes he had.  He refuses to succumb to Negan, and he won’t be broken.  Daryl knows the choices that Dwight made and knows why he made them, but he won’t do it.  Even Sherry knows that Daryl is the person that she and her husband used to be, and in some ways, is also envious of that.  Honestly though, if I kept hearing that “Easy Street” song like Daryl did, I’d succumb to Negan in a second.  Overall, a very good episode with some pretty good story telling.


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