December 12th, 2016
I’ve gotta hand it to the Rams. They know they stink on the field, but they are finding a way to keep us amused with all their drama off the field. Nobody should be surprised they got destroyed by the Falcons yesterday. Atlanta scored more touchdowns in LA than the Rams have all season. Jeff Fisher was probably trying to figure out how to stop Andre Rison and Jamal Anderson all week. Remember when the Rams had one of the toughest defenses in the league? That defense is about as soft as Charmin toilet paper now after getting run over by the Atlanta offense. Jared Goff hasn’t exactly looked all that promising since his first start, and when I watch the offense, I get about as bored as Michael Vick would be at a PETA meeting. Off the field, there’s the rumored dysfunction between Fisher and GM Les Snead. Both deny that there is a rift between the two of them, but given how long it took to actually get Goff on the field, as well as the fact that several sources have reported on this rumored front office tension, there must be some element of truth to it. Even though both guys were given contract extensions, if LA is an embarrassment over the last three games, like they were yesterday, either one or both could still be fired. Stan Kroenke isn’t going to run out of money anytime soon, and will do what he needs to do. Now there’s rumblings that Jim Harbaugh could leave Michigan for the Rams. For the love of god, make this happen Stan! I don’t care if Harbaugh is a jerk. He’s been successful everywhere he’s gone. That shouldn’t be any different here.
Elsewhere around Week 14, the Chargers got blown out by the Panthers, and all their fans want for Christmas is to actually beat the Browns. The Titans got by the Broncos. Le’veon Bell and the Steelers dismantled the Bills. Buffalo’s field looked like Johnny Manziel’s hotel room after Saturday night’s Heisman Trophy ceremony. Carson Palmer ruined the lives of his Cardinal teammates and fantasy football owners, as Arizona got beat by Miami. Remember when everyone thought RGIII was better than Kirk Cousins? That’s laughable now. Cousins has been dominating and the Redskins topped the Eagles. Every time I see the Colts and Texans play, I can’t help but think how far those teams have fallen. Houston outlasted Indy. The Vikings gave themselves hope they’ll get Adrian Peterson back this season by beating the Jaguars. Only the Lions would nearly let Matt Barkley beat them, but they just got by an undermanned Chicago team. Russell Wilson threw as many interceptions yesterday as he did all season, as the Packers throttled the Seahawks. The Saints can suddenly play defense, but they also forgot how to score, and they lost a tight one to Tampa. The Jets beat the 49ers in OT, in a game that should be been moved to PBS at 3 am. The Raiders had a costly loss to the Chiefs on Thursday Night Football. Andy Reid has so much fat on his body, there’s no way that guy ever gets cold during those KC winters. Tony Romo can’t be blamed for last night’s Cowboys loss. Here come 12 weeks of good jokes about the ‘Boys. The Bengals took down the Browns. Here is a recap of Browns football this season……
A few weeks ago I said if the Lakers can get to mid December around .500, and manage the injury bug, they would have a real shot at the playoffs. Well so much for that. The Lakers have lost six straight, and they’ve lost contact with the top eight playoff teams in the West, now trailing the Blazers by a couple of games for the 8th spot. D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young were back from injury, but Russell sure looked rusty. A couple of games behind Portland might not sound like a lot, however, when healthy the Lakers are about a .500 team, and they’d need to be slightly better than that to make the playoffs. Just to get back to .500, they will need to reel off six or seven wins in a row, or a streak like 10 out of 12. Even though this team is improving, they aren’t that good yet. More than anything though, the Lakers still haven’t figured out how to play consistent defense. They compete hard on most nights, but they just need to play smarter. Given how far Luke Walton has taken these guys to this point, I suspect that will come eventually.
As for the Clippers, you didn’t actually get fooled into thinking they were championship contenders did you? The Clipps got dismantled by the Warriors last week, and like the late Dennis Green would say, “they are who we thought they were”. The Warriors didn’t even play that well, yet they showed why they are so much better. As good as CP3 and Blake Griffin are, Golden State is better at a number of positions. In fact, they are better individually and collectively in the backcourt, infinitely better at small forward, and maybe even better at power forward. It doesn’t matter if DeAndre Jordan is better than the Warriors starting center, because Jordan isn’t skilled enough offensively to exploit today’s small ball. Neither is any center in today’s game for that matter. All the Clippers can hope for is that Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and Klay Thompson slip on banana peels and get injured, and even then I’m still not sure they would find a way to get it done. That’s because they are the Clippers.
Russell Westbrook is averaging a triple double. I repeat, AVERAGING A TRIPLE DOUBLE. The only player to ever do that was Oscar Robertson, during the 1961-1962 season. Despite that, Mark Cuban claims that Westbrook is not a superstar. By Cuban’s definition, a superstar leads his team to 50 wins and to the playoffs. That is by far the dumbest thing said by one of the smartest people of all time. Besides, how would Mark Cuban know what a superstar is anyway? He hasn’t been able to sign one in the last 5 years of free agency. Then there’s Phil Jackson, who still thinks it’s 1998. After pissing off Lebron James with his careless comments, Jackson is now taking shots at his superstar, Carmelo Anthony, claiming that he hangs on to the ball too long at times. Usually there is a method to Phil’s madness, and a reason why he says what he does. However, he’s failed to realize that the game is totally different as an executive than as a coach. He’s alienated his superstar, he’s alienating other superstars around the league who will probably never consider his team in free agency, and he’s forcing an antiquated offensive system on his players. When you are winning, you can get away with this. Phil isn’t winning as an executive, so it doesn’t fly. Apparently nobody has told him that.
It’s only a matter of time before the inevitable happens: the Dodgers losing Kenley Jansen in free agency to Florida or Washington. That may even happen with Justin Turner as well, and it would serve Andrew Friedman and his 30 general managers right for screwing around with them. Friedman is no genius at all, and every time I hear somebody say that he is, I want to slam my head into a wall. The Dodgers stellar farm system is not the product of his work, but rather the product of Ned Colleti’s. The team has had no greater success under him than under Colletti. In fact, now that the Dodgers actually have to cut payroll, they can’t re-sign two of their most critical players because of the horrible contracts Friedman’s front office gave to Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy. Sooner or later, the Dodgers are going to fall back to being a mediocre team under Friedman, as he continues to strip the roster of talent. You can also be sure that he’s not going to pay big money for Clayton Kershaw when he opts out in 2018.
A for the Angels, I really like the trade for Danny Espinosa from the Nationals. There’s not many 2nd baseman in baseball who can give you 20 home run power, and play decent defensively, which the Halos just got. The Angels also didn’t give up anything of real value from their farm system either, which speaks to the resourcefulness of the trade. You can be sure that they’ll be very strong up the middle defensively, it’s just a matter of whether their pitching can rebound and stay healthy compared to the disaster that was last season.
To the college hoops where the Bruins continue to roll. UCLA took down Michigan on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion to improve to 10-0. That was the Bruins first sellout at home in four years! That tells you how long its been since UCLA put an exciting product on the floor. This team is looking like the college version of the Golden State Warriors, showing the ability to blow games open with their outside shooting, while playing an exciting uptempo style. They even find a way to sprinkle in some defense when they want to, an unusual occurrence for a Steve Alford team. UCLA would have moved up to #1 in the nation, but Villanova rallied to beat Notre Dame and remain undefeated. It hasn’t felt this cool to be a part of UCLA basketball since the mid 1990’s. Hopefully they can keep it going heading into Pac 12 play.
Congratulations to Lamar Jackson on winning the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night. Jackson was easily the most explosive and exciting player in college football this season. Since Papa John loves Louisville football so much, you can be sure Jackson is going to get a huge endorsement deal from him when he turns pro. That is if Papa John isn’t already paying him a salary. Too bad OJ Simpson didn’t Skype in from prison with thoughts on the ceremony, since all the former Heisman winners were in attendance. Johnny Manziel probably sold his Heisman Trophy for an eight ball of cocaine. Watching these two polar opposite guys stand next to each is pretty funny…..
Do the LA Kings ever play anymore? They’ve played four less games than Calgary and one game less than Edmonton. I still can’t understand why Darryl Sutter refuses to play goalie Jeff Zatkoff. Peter Budaj is 34 years old, and is going to wear out from all the hockey he is playing. Zatkoff was brought in to provide some support if Jonathan Quick got hurt, and that’s exactly what happened. The Kings have some other issues though, like their top guys Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik not providing much offense. They’ll have to rectify that as they head out on a nine game road trip. As for the Ducks, they’ve won 3 straight after beating up on the Senators. Anaheim is playing faster and better slowly but surely. They are now in 1st place in the Pacific as they head out on a six game road trip.
Finally, the mid-season finale 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 plan on watching it later. This episode had me losing my mind again because you knew people were going to die, and sure enough that’s what happened. Amazingly enough, when it was over, it turned out to be a feel good moment for everybody. Rick was like the dad who comes home from a long trip to find out that his kids just burned down the house. I’m not sure whether Rick should be more angry at his his kid, who really caused all this, or Negan. I’m sure most of us were celebrating the fact that Spencer was killed by Negan. It turns out that Spencer hated Rick so much that it actually got him killed. No guts, no glory, and Spencer clearly had neither when it was over. You know Rick is about to go crazy and start fighting back again because his beard is growing. I’m sure many of us were shocked and felt it was unnecessary for Darryl to kill fat Joey during his escape. Think of it this way though: Had Darryl not killed him, a heart attack would have. Eight episodes and Carol and Morgan still don’t know about Glenn and Abraham. If they did, I’m sure they would go straight to war, let alone knowing that Darryl was captured by Negan. Am I the only one that found it absolutely hilarious that Negan left a seat at the dinner table for Lucille? That’s what makes him an amazing bad guy. I also love when Enid asked Maggie if she wanted a plate for her apple pie, and she said no and just shoved it in her mouth. Don’t we all have a friend like that? (Whether or not they are pregnant). Any guess who that mysterious figure was, whose boots we saw after Rick and Aaron loaded the truck, and at the very end of the episode? My guess is it’s the shows next villain, the leader of the Whisperers. Don’t act like you didn’t cry during that Rick and Darryl hug. That was a great episode, and a good ending to a somewhat slow season. I’m really bummed we have to wait two months, but the show figures to have a promising 2017. Best bro hug ever.