November 14th, 2016
There is much to get to in this edition of Monday Morning Coffee, so let’s start with the Lakers. Taking two out of three on their latest road trip isn’t too bad and after 11 games, a 6-5 record is a very pleasant surprise. I’m going to overlook the fact that Andrew Wiggins looked like Dominique Wilkins last night, and the Lake Show was blown out of the building. Instead I’ll focus on the positive. Luke Walton is playing with a 10 man rotation, with each one playing between 20-25 minutes a night, and closing with the group of players that are playing the best. There’s a ton of mistakes being made, but there’s energy, there’s effort on defense, and there’s accountability. On any given night, I’m actually starting to believe that this team can beat anybody that they play. On the other hand though, if the Lakers are gonna play .500 ball, the playoffs are a realistic goal. If that’s the case then they can’t afford to lose games to Minnesota and Dallas like they did last week. This is definitely a fun team to watch, and one that Laker fans can really get excited about. Let’s hope they get back in the win column against Brooklyn on Tuesday before the schedule gets tougher again.
As for the Clippers, they’ve got the best record in the NBA after 10 games, and they are off to their best start in franchise history. However, nobody cares, and it’s not just because they are the red headed step child of LA sports teams. It’s because they will be defined by whether or not they make it past the 2nd round of the playoffs, which they have never done. I fully expect Golden State to get their act together and finish 1st in the West. However, the Clipps best hopes of getting to the conference finals are to finish 1st so they can avoid what is likely to be the Warriors or Spurs in the 2nd round. In that case, I guess I should say that nobody cares about the Clippers until the playoffs, but the Clippers should care about the regular season if they have hopes of making a real playoff run. Between the Lakers and the Clippers, the NBA in LA is getting very fun to watch.
On to the NFL and the Rams. Look people…our troops don’t defend our freedom in this country so we can watch Case Keenum vs Bryce Petty on Sundays. That Rams-Jets game went exactly the way we thought it would, with neither team being able to do anything on offense. The Rams may have come away with the ugly 9-6 win, but it’s nothing more than a game that one of two mediocre teams had to win. As usual, Jeff Fisher didn’t put any blame on the quarterback, and gave us no reason to think he’s going to give Jared Goff a chance to start next week against Miami. Since Case Keenum is easily the worst starting quarterback in the NFL, and Fisher insists on keeping Goff on the bench, I’ve subscribed to a new theory. The theory is that Fisher and General Manager Les Snead realize that Goff really isn’t that good, and that trading their first born child for him in the draft was a mistake. That’s right folks, that means that Goff isn’t even better than the worst starting quarterback in the NFL right now. Since Fisher and Snead know this, they won’t let Goff see the field or else everyone will realize how badly they screwed up, and they could lose their jobs. In other words, keeping Goff on the bench actually increases their job security. As if the quarterback situation isn’t bad enough, I’m beginning to wonder about Todd Gurley too, since he’s yet to have a 100 yard game this year. Gurley might just be an average NFL running back, and not the all-pro we thought he was going to be last year. In fact, Gurley might not even be the best back on the Rams, given how Benny Cunningham looked yesterday. Collectively, the offense is so bad, I can’t tell who is a stiff and who is actually a serviceable player.
Elsewhere around week 10 of the NFL, I don’t know how the Chargers do it. They lost another game late in the 4th, this time on a Philip Rivers pick 6, at the hands of the Miami Dolphins. The Bolts are now losing on and off the field. More on that in a moment. I’m surprised that Tony Romo wasn’t waiving one of those terrible towels yesterday, in hopes that Dak would screw up and he’d get his starting job back next week. Sorry Tony, Cowboys got by the Steelers in a good one. Jay Cutler is back to throwing interceptions, so everything in our country seems right again. The Bucs beat up on the Bears. The Packers defense has as many holes as the cheese that’s made in Wisconsin, and they got blown away by the Titans. The Browns couldn’t even get a win in the same week that a reality TV star became President, as the Ravens beat up on Cleveland. Carson Wentz got his game back and the Eagles took down the Falcons. Saints fans are probably jumping in the bayou with the alligators after losing to the Broncos on a blocked PAT. The Texans beat the Jaguars in a game that should have been aired on Comedy Central. Sam Bradford has suddenly remembered that he’s only Sam Bradford, and the Vikings lost again, this time to the Redskins. Cam Newton brought back the dab, but that wasn’t enough to get the Panthers to beat the Chiefs. The Cardinals got by the lowly 49ers, who have nothing but Colin Kapernick’s political crusade to keep them relevant. There’s always time for a selfie at an NFL game right?
The city of San Diego voted against a hotel tax that would fund a stadium downtown for the Chargers. That leaves the Chargers with very few good options. They’ve been trying to get funding for a new stadium for 16 years, and the city just won’t do it. Now it seems as though their only viable option for a new stadium is to go to LA, and share the new Inglewood stadium with the Rams. That may be a smart monetary move for the Chargers, but they would become by far the most irrelevant team in the LA sports landscape. The Bolts would have completely alienated all of their San Diego fans, while simultaneously struggling to build a new fan base in a market that’s already dominated by the Rams. It’s a crummy situation for the Chargers who are either going to lose money, or lose their fans. It also means that we might be just a year away from having not 1, but 2 terrible NFL football teams in Los Angeles.
To college football, where the Trojans pulled off the big upset against #4 Washington on Saturday. I wasn’t really sure, but now I am: USC is back, and Clay Helton is off the hot seat. Helton has found a dynamic quarterback in Sam Darnold. The kid takes chances, but he’s one of the best freshman quarterbacks we’ve seen at ‘SC in the last twenty years. It’s not just Darnold’s greatness that’s putting the Trojans on this run. The defense shut down one of the most dynamic offenses in the country, and the special teams play has been huge during their six game winning streak. That streak is something that hasn’t been done by USC since the Pete Carroll era, which the Trojans have been desperately trying to replicate since his departure. It would almost be a shame at this point if USC doesn’t get a chance to play Washington again in the Pac 12 Title game. The Trojans still need to win against UCLA and hope for Utah and Colorado to lose another game for that to happen. That’s a little bit of a long shot. Looking back on it, losing to Utah and Alabama was understandable, but the Stanford loss is what really hurt.
It was nice to see the Bruins get back in the win column on the football field against Oregon State. it was also good to see Mike Fafaul get himself a win as the Bruins starting quarterback. However, it’s going to be blood bath next week when UCLA takes on USC at the Rose Bowl. I have no idea how the Bruins are going to be able to move the ball considering that have no running game, and the Trojan secondary is going to be licking their chops at every pass Fafaul puts in the air. This one could get ugly.
Elsewhere around college football, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame managed to avoid an embarrassment this weekend by beating Army. That counts as something significant these days for the Irish, who have suffered mass amounts of humiliation this season. Then there’s the chaos that is now the polls after Clemson, Michigan, and Washington lost. I do hope this moves Louisville up in the ranks though, because they would probably give Alabama the best game in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Alabama beat up on Mississippi State, clinching the SEC West title, and inspiring tons of inbred sex on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa. There’s also UNLV’s backup punter who wasn’t really planning on playing, and instead wore his girlfriend’s Yoga pants to the game…..
Is UCLA basketball back? Ok maybe not, but they look pretty damn exciting in their first two games. Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf are already looking like super freshman, and the Bruins have depth. I’m not going to lose my mind over a couple of wins against Northridge and Pacific, but we’ve seen UCLA have major let downs at home against those types of schools in recent years. The Bruins should win their next four games and be undefeated going into their showdown against Kentucky. That will be the first true test on the national stage. This team is going to score, but as with any Steve Alford team, the question is whether or not they can play defense. They have the athleticism to do so, it’s just a matter of being accountable on that end of the floor. Also, now that Arizona appears to have lost it’s best player, the Bruins have an even better chance to win the Pac 12.
As for USC basketball, their off to two quick wins against easy opponents, but it’s like everyone completely forgot about their success last year. They finished 6th in the Pac 12 last year, and were actually picked to finish 6th again, mostly due to a couple of players turning pro. However, Andy Enfield’s recruiting has been a little bit underrated the last couple of years, and he has some players that can help make some noise in the conference, and be dangerous again come tournament time. What isn’t going to help USC though is that they don’t have a single non-conference game against a ranked opponent.
To baseball, where I had a feeling Andrew Friedman was going to do something stupid. Sure enough he did. He traded Howie Kendrick to the Phillies for two useless minor leaguers. Farhan Zaidi, Friedman’s “whipping boy”, explained that his was simply done to create payroll flexibility. Thank god for that considering there are no good free agents out there. The Dodgers have a good third baseman and a good closer, but they are about to give us a bunch of excuses about why they aren’t going to sign them, even after clearing $14 million with the trades of Kendrick and Carlos Ruiz. I’m also going to lose my mind the next time I hear Zaidi or Friedman say they have starting pitching depth. Apparently these guys didn’t watch the same NLCS that we did, when they had no starters beyond Clayton Kershaw who they could give the ball too.
I’ve been telling you for about a year now, but nobody was listening. Donald Trump had a real shot to be the next President of the United States. Now it’s finally happened, so I’m not surprised. Now that we’re here though, people need to stop losing their minds. Give the man a chance before you continue your protesting, complaining, and threats to move to Canada. I can’t believe somebody hung the Nazi flag in San Francisco as a sign of protest. Really people? So Donald Trump is Hitler? Apparently some people have zero historical perspective. People complained about Ronald Regan when he was elected because he was an actor, yet he turned out to be one of our best Presidents ever. Wait and see what happens before you start complaining. As for Hillary, she foolishly failed to campaign extensively in the most critical states she needed, which she totally took for granted, just like many of Donald Trump’s opponents over the last year.
Finally, a 90 minute 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 that is the case. We finally get back to Alexandria and see how the group is doing, but the entire episode was Negan basically taunting Rick as his people raided the Alexandrian’s supplies. Learning that Rick is aware that Judith isn’t really his daughter and is Shane’s, really didn’t have quite the effect on me as I thought it would. Since Lori died four seasons ago when Judith was born, we are just so far removed for me to be really connected with it anymore. However, I get the significance, which is that Rick is willing to endure these difficult situations like this, and still raise Judith like she is his own. The fact that Rick didn’t smash Negan over the head with Lucille just goes to show you how much fight has been taken out of Rick. The same can be said for Darryl, who didn’t even have the energy to convince Negan he wanted to stay in Alexandria. It’s interesting that Negan doesn’t want to kill women, but it’s actually the women in this group that are probably the most dangerous to him: Michonne, Maggie, Sasha, and Rosita. I suspect they will be the ones that are going to inspire the group to take down Negan. I haven’t heard that much talk about guns since the Presidential election. Negan is definitely not a guy you want to be “audited” by during the apocalypse. Not a bad episode, but I’d say my least favorite of the first four we’ve seen this season. Looking forward to seeing what’s up back at Hilltop next week.