Monday Morning Coffee

January 2nd, 2017

Happy New Year everybody! Let’s kick off the first edition of MMC in 2017 with some Laker talk, and more specifically, what the breakup of Jeanie Buss and Phil Jackson means.  First and foremost, it means that most guys have been feverishly checking Match.Com, Bumble, E-Harmony, and Tinder to see if Jeanie has posted a new profile since she’s single now.  I think it’s safe to say she likes older men, so if you are in your 70’s, you’ve got a good shot, which is bad news for many of us who thought we had a shot.  Knowing Phil, their breakup was probably caused by the fact that Jeanie didn’t want to run the triangle offense at dinner time.  I don’t think Phil ever really wanted to get married, because who takes a job they don’t need on the other side of the country when they are engaged?  More than anything though, the breakup should put an end to the rumors that Jeanie is going to bring Phil back at the end of the season to replace her brother, Jim, in the front office.  That should give Laker fans some peace of mind on the direction of the franchise, because bringing Phil back was a horrible idea.  It may not save Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak though.  Their fate will be decided at season’s end.  If the Lakers were to replace either one of them, I’m sure there would be a number of great executives lining up for the role, who are more qualified than both Phil and Jim Buss.  As for the team, their record is much closer to being the worst team in the league, than to a playoff spot.  With a top 3 protected pick, it’s probably time to start cheering for some more losses so the team can hang on to that pick and collect another valuable asset.

As for the Clippers, it was just a couple of weeks ago that everyone was raving about how much depth the team had, and how they were championship contenders that might be able to knock off the Warriors in the playoffs.  That so-called “depth” has come up short  of late, as the Clipps have lost six straight, and fallen all the way to seventh in the Western Conference.  Aside from the fact that Blake Griffin and Chris Paul are becoming more and more fragile as they age, the Clippers defense has been non-existent over the last few weeks.  I’m not foolish enough to believe the Clipp Show is going to miss the playoffs, but a slide down to even fourth in the West would likely lead to a second round matchup with Golden State, or even settling for the 6th seed would probably result in a matchup with the upstart Houston Rockets.  That means all those celebrity bandwagon Clipper fans will be searching for the receipts on their Blake Griffin jerseys and returning them back to the Team LA store.

Are you ready for the Rose Bowl? That’s right folks, we might actually get a good football game this afternoon, instead of that watered down, glorified, consolation game crap we’ve been witnessing for the last two weeks, as well as the boring semifinal playoff games.  Neither USC nor Penn State is going to be able to run the ball against each other, so I expect Trace McSorely and Sam Darnold to be chucking the ball around like they are playing in the backyard.  However, the Trojans have the better quarterback, and Darnold’s mobility should be able to neutralize Penn State’s solid pass rush.  I think USC pulls away late and wins by two touchdowns.  The irony of all this is that the Trojans beat Colorado and Washington, and it seems like the punishment  for those two teams was getting embarrassed by much better opponents in their respective bowl games.  The Trojans on the other hand get a nice matchup with Penn State in the Rose Bowl, which all of their fans and players would be thrilled to play in and win.  If you’re going to the game, hopefully you left yesterday, because it’s the Rose Bowl, which means it will take a Christopher Columbus like journey to get there and get in your seats by game time.

Let’s go the NFL, where mercifully, the Rams season has come to an end.  It concluded yesterday with a 44-6 beating they took from Arizona.  How did this team start 3-1? The offense was scoring less than Steve Urkel on New Years Eve.  Jared Goff took so many hits that Chris Brown is interested in dating him.  The honeymoon is over and the team needs to fix things quickly, or else they will lose buzz even before heading into their expensive new stadium in 2019.  The first order of business is hiring a coach with a good offensive mind, and drafting some solid offensive lineman.  Only then will we know whether Todd Gurley and Jared Goff are decent NFL players are not.  It doesn’t take very long to turn things around in the NFL, unless you are the Cleveland Browns.  The right coach and the right draft picks go a very long way to your success.  I guess the Rams haven’t figured this out though because they’ve had 13 consecutive seasons at .500 or worse.

Elsewhere around week 17 of the NFL, the Chargers gave their remaining San Diego fans something memorable by losing to the Chiefs, then immediately firing Coach Mike McCoy afterward.  In a few weeks from now, they will have fired the city of San Diego too.  You think things looked bad for the Raiders last week? They are down to their 3rd string quarterback heading into the playoffs after losing to the Broncos.  The Redskins had a chance to clinch a playoff spot, and instead they clinched a comfortable spot on their couch next week for Wild Card Weekend, after losing to the Giants.  The Browns lost to the Steelers, securing the #1 overall draft pick.  In related news that is likely to follow in the coming days, every draft eligible player is planning on returning to school.  Mark Sanchez showed he still has it yesterday, throwing a couple of interceptions in the Cowboys loss to Philly.  The Patriots should crush everyone in the AFC like a grape.  The Cowboys have been great, but the Seahawks, Falcons, and Giants are all capable of knocking them off on the road.  The Bills were in a very giving mood yesterday, allowing the Jets to score on a free touchdown on a kickoff in their loss to New York.

That was funny.  However, not nearly as shocking as seeing Clemson lineman Christian Wilkins grab Ohio State running back Curtis Samuel somewhere he’s not exactly supposed to after this play ended……

On to College Basketball, and UCLA hoops.  Did you know that in 1994-95, the Bruins went undefeated in non-conference play, lost their conference opening game at Oregon, then went on to win the national championship.  Sure enough, this is the first time they went undefeated in non-conference play since then, and on Wednesday, they lost a heart breaker to Oregon in the final seconds.  I’m not saying history repeats itself here, but it was good for the Bruins to lose a game to see how they would respond, and they responded well by beating Oregon State on Friday.  I would have loved nothing more than to see a final shot by the Bruins beat the buzzer after those idiot Oregon fans ran onto the court prematurely.  Nevertheless, UCLA will get its chance to beat Oregon again, and their first loss of the season does nothing more than help them build character and guts. Who would have thought I could be so positive about the Bruins after where they were a year ago?

Then there’s the Trojan basketball team, that came crashing back to earth on Friday.  USC suffered its first loss of the season against Oregon, who blew them off the floor by a score of 84-61.  As nice of a season as USC has had, the way they lost can’t sit well with them because it was the first ranked team they have played.  It definitely makes you wonder if they’ve been fooling us all along with their powder puff non-conference schedule.  A longer and more athletic team like Oregon gave them problems.  If that’s the case, with so many quality ranked opponents in the Pac 12, the Trojans are going down faster than a Bill Cosby victim.

Are the Dodgers ever going to make a deal with the Twins for Brian Dozier?  It feels like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump could agree on what to order for lunch before these two teams could make a deal.  The fact that the Dodgers haven’t signed Chase Utley, or some other cheap alternative at second base, tells me that they still think they have a chance to acquire the Twins power hitting second baseman.  I know LA is holding out hope that they can make the deal by only including pitching prospect Jose DeLeon, but these types of deals for stud players with team friendly contracts usually require 2-3 prospects.  As long as it doesn’t require a player better than DeLeon (Julio Urias, Cody Bellinger, etc), the Dodgers should make the trade.

It’s a good thing the LA Kings beat the Sharks on Saturday to get back in the win column.  It has felt like the Sharks have owned the Kings for the last year or so.  Those two teams have always played close games for the last 5 seasons, but up until last year, LA had a huge mental edge.  After all those years of Shark jokes the hockey gods are striking back with a vengeance, and now San Jose has that edge.  Of greater concern is the fact that Anze Kopitar might never score again, given that he has just three goals on the entire season, and the same goes for his aging teammate, Marian Gaborik.  The Kings are going to be in a battle just to make the playoffs with the way Edmonton and Calgary are playing.  As for the Ducks, they have their own expensive players not scoring goals like Ryan Getzlaf, but they are still winning games and staying in the playoff race.  They have talent, but watching them feels like you’re looking at that girl who was really hot in high school for the first couple of years, but by your senior year, her stock isn’t quite as high as it once was because new hotter girls (in this case Edmonton and San Jose), have transferred in and garnered more attention.

Well 2016 is in the books, but frankly, the year was just a jerk.  On the LA sports front, we said goodbye to legends like Vin Scully, and Kobe Bryant, even though the Mamba gave us a nice memory with his 60 point finale.  The Rams were garbage, the Lakers are struggling, the Clippers are still the Clippers, the Dodgers still can’t win in October, and the Angels stink.  At least UCLA basketball gave us a small taste of what it could be in 2017, as did USC football.  Here’s to hoping 2017 will be better for our SoCal sports team.  Let’s hope we don’t lose as many celebrities either.  To lose Prince, Mohamed Ali, Alan Thicke, Carrie Fisher, George Michael, and others, really hurt for those of us who identified with these celebrities as we grew up.  They were a part of my childhood.  I guess 2016 also couldn’t end without killing the career of Ronda Rousey as well.  She went Hollywood, and then had too much time away from the octagon.  Time to walk away.

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