September 4, 2017
Every blogger and writer has done it at least once before. You write your story or column before the game is over because you think the game has been decided. I was guilty of that last night when I thought UCLA would never rally from a 34-point deficit against Texas A&M. I was ready to trash Josh Rosen, and instead he shut me up for a week by throwing for 491 yards and 4 TD’s. I was also about ready to have Jim Mora fired and replaced with Chip Kelly, but I guess that will have to wait at least another few weeks. The Bruins showed they are entertaining and may win some games, but they are still deeply flawed. There is no running game, their offensive line is downright offensive, and they can’t tackle anybody. It’s probably only a matter of time before all this catches up with them. In the meantime though, they deserve credit for yesterday’s win, while Josh Rosen can go keep his grades up in those really hard classes he hates taking.
So this is the USC football team everybody waited eight months to see? I guess everybody was excited to see a team that tackles about as well as my high school varsity team did, and one that is made up of wide receivers that can’t even catch a cold? Despite beating Western Michigan, this looks a lot more like the disastrous team we saw at the beginning of last season, rather than the juggernaut we saw after the Rose Bowl. The Trojans don’t have much time to get their act together either, with Stanford coming to town next week. You can be assured that the Cardinal will be running the ball early and often, against the tackling dummies that appeared to be the USC defense on Saturday. Sam Darnold had what was easily his worst game as a starter. Even though it wasn’t entirely his fault, you’ve gotta wonder if the kid can live up to all the ridiculous hype he’s been getting since the end of last season. The Trojan faithful had better hope that this was simply a case of the boys doing a little too much early semester partying on fraternity row. Don’t be surprised if they drop slightly from their #4 ranking.
Elsewhere around college football, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame actually looked halfway decent against Temple. The Irish have talent, but they are being far more courteous to their fans this year by waiting until at least after the first week of the season to disappoint them. #1 Alabama looked strong in their win over #3 Florida State, in the cousins vs convicts battle. After the win, ‘Bama should be entitled to replace the Jets this season in the NFL. Tom Herman made his coaching debut for the Longhorns, and he learned that everything is bigger in Texas. That includes their losses, as they got beat by Maryland. This Wyoming punter really put the “special” in special teams…..
The Dodgers have problems. They aren’t new problems. They are the same ones I was concerned about back in April. When things really matter in October, they still don’t have any pitcher you can trust outside of Clayton Kershaw. You thought it was Yu Darvish? Somebody needs to tell him “Yu Suck.” Some of you are panicking because you are just noticing this now, but the last week has only reinforced what I’ve thought all year. At the same time, Cody Bellinger should not only be rookie of the year, but also NL MVP because the Dodger offense has gone to hell when he’s been out of the lineup. Curtis Granderon has been such a failure at the plate since he was acquired, all Alex Verdugo needs to do is hit .240 to make the playoff roster. When it comes to pitching, this team is nothing but Clayton Kershaw and four guys carrying baseball gloves.
Meanwhile, the Angels better hope they make the playoffs because what they are doing is pure recklessness. They just acquired Justin Upton and Brandon Phillips, who are both nice players, but are nothing more than two-month rentals. The are depleting a farm system that is already devoid of talent. As if that wasn’t reckless enough, they are sending Garrett Richards to the mound on Tuesday against Oakland, when he hasn’t even built the arm strength to throw 60 pitches. 60 pitches???!!! Why not just get some AAA scrub to give you three innings since it will be a bullpen game anyway? If Richards is supposed to be the Halos franchise pitcher, they certainly aren’t treating him that way. If the Halos were going to acquire anything in August, it should have been pitching. Instead, adding Upton and Phillips is like making a run to the store for some vodka and tequila in the middle of a party, when you really just need some ice.
To the NBA, where the Lakers avoided a disaster last week, after only getting fined $500 K by the league for tampering with Paul George. This could have completely derailed the Lakers’ plan to sign two max level free agents, or even just George next summer, had the penalty been anything more severe. Word is that Jeanie Buss was not pleased that her front office did this. However, how can you blame Rob Pelinka. This happens all the time. How do you think that Chris Paul got traded to the franchise of his choice, the Rockets, three days before he was due to become an unrestricted free agent? Since the Lakers still have the largest TV deal in the NBA, they will be paying $500 K fine like….
I don’t blame Aaron Donald at all for holding out. If Donald were to simply play out his rookie contract and then go on to hit the open market, he would likely be in decline. This is the only leverage he has, and since the Rams are a talentless team, there is no reason for them not to pay him. Perhaps it would have been smarter not give Tayvon Austin an extension worth $28 million last summer. The bad news for Aaron Donald is that the Rams might actually get off to a decent start since they aren’t really playing anybody in the first three weeks of the season. However, when it’s all said and done, this is probably going to be no better than a 6-10 team.
Then there’s the Chargers. With each passing day, the Bolts’ ownership must be considering jumping off the tallest building in Los Angeles, as they continue to walk down the path of irrelevancy. The San Diego State Aztec football team had 40,000 people at their first football game on Saturday. The Chargers drew half of that in their first preseason game. You think that’s bad? The combined ratings for the Chargers and Rams final preseason game wasn’t even as great as the Raiders final preseason game that was shown on KTLA. It’s still a Raider town, and the Raiders aren’t even coming back.
Brock Osweiler is the real winner after he got cut by the Browns. He’s getting paid $16 million to not play for the Cleveland Browns. Since he never got to actually play a game, it isn’t an unreasonable question to ask: is he the greatest quarterback in franchise history?
Finally, NHL training camps open in a little over a week from now, but the trash talking has already begun between the team Twitter accounts. You have to love that Vegas is already well-versed at making fun of the Sharks.