October 9, 2017
You didn’t actually think that I wouldn’t complain about the Dodgers, despite taking a 2-0 lead against the D’Backs did you? Ok fine, I can’t overlook the positive. The Dodgers are hitting like we haven’t seen them do before in the postseason. Cody Bellinger hasn’t even done much, and the offense is still scoring more than high schoolers do on prom night. Then there’s Yasiel Puig, who has suddenly matured and harnessed his talent into a game-changing player. His teammates actually like him now too. However, I still don’t trust the bullpen. I also don’t trust Dave Roberts to use his head and actually take Clayton Kershaw out of the game after six innings. Apparently nobody told him Kershaw has an ERA of over 25.00 in the 7th and beyond. Imagine how much different the playoff narrative of Kershaw would be if Kershaw was actually removed after six innings? I expect the Dodgers to close out the D’Backs early next week, but the questionable decision making and untrustworthy middle relief leave me skeptical.
Yesterday it felt like Jeff Fisher was coaching the Rams again. The offense was a turnover machine, Todd Gurley was bottled up, and the defense was on the field way too long. What happened to Sammy Watkins? He has disappeared like the fans at the Coliseum. Wasn’t he supposed to stretch the field? There goes another draft pick. How did Cooper Kupp drop that pass? That’s one he’s gotta catch, and it totally changes the narrative. The Rams now have to go back east to play the Jags next week, which suddenly looks like a very tough game. The Seahawks are still the class of the NFC West, and the Rams may suddenly be facing a losing skid, reminiscent of last season. Buckle up for the bumpy ride.
Meanwhile, you know what Chick-Fil-A and the Giants have in common? They both don’t show up on Sunday. The Chargers took advantage of that and finally got their first victory as the LA Chargers. I feel terrible for OBJ, who was making some huge plays for the G-Men before he went down. This is apparently what it’s going to take for the Bolts to actually find the win column. Broken ankles from the opponents best players. The solution for the Chargers may just be playing every game on the road because playing at home seems to be an even more hostile environment with 27,000 of the opponents’ fans. The road game might even help next week against a struggling Raiders team, which has massively underperformed.
As for the rest of week 5 in the NFL, the Cowboys shouldn’t be kneeling for the national anthem, but instead should be kneeling when Aaron Rodgers walks by them, after his Packers beat Dallas in the final minute. The Steeler fans are going to use their terrible towels to wipe away their tears after losing to the Jaguars. I think VP Mike Pence realized he would have been far more offended watching the 49ers and Colts rather than the players actually kneeling, which is why he really left the game early. I guess Cam Newton’s kryptonite is not angry female journalists because he led the Panthers over the Lions. The CIA plans on using the Browns and Jets game film as a method of torturing terrorists. The Eagles hammered the Cardinals, and it looks like they’ll have to start walking Torrey Smith intentionally…..
To college football where the tune of Trojan fans has changed overnight. Prior to the Washington State loss, USC fans were purchasing tickets to the College Football Playoff game. Now they are probably listing those tickets on StubHub, especially after an underwhelming victory over Oregon State. The Trojans had three turnovers against the Beavers, yet they won by 28 points. If they have three turnovers against Utah, Notre Dame, or UCLA, they will get crushed. #3 Oklahoma lost, which seems like a golden opportunity, but USC just isn’t that good, and is likely to get exposed in the coming weeks. Even the great Sam Darnold can only be so great when his offensive line can’t protect him, but there could be a bigger problem than than. The question arising is whether or not coach Clay Helton is actually building anything meaningful. We might find out in the next few weeks.
Elsewhere around the college game, Oklahoma has developed a bold new strategy. This year they figure they can’t actually blow it in a playoff game if they don’t actually make the playoffs. I guess that’s why they lost to Iowa State. Notre Dame is up to 5-1 after beating UNC, but the Irish faithful are probably disappointed because Brian Kelly is getting closer to a contract extension than being fired. As for the latest AP rankings: 1. Alabama 2. Clemson 3. A 4. Bunch 5. Of 6. Teams 7. With 8. No 9. Chance.
I’m not big on preseason games for any sport. However, if I knew nothing about basketball (like many NBA GM’s), and began watching the Lakers first two preseason games, I’d say that Kyle Kuzma is easily the Lakers’ best player. It’s only a matter of time before Kuzma is inserted into the starting lineup, likely in place of Julius Randle. Luke Walton is trying to emulate Golden State’s system, which is pretty difficult to do if you don’t have shooting. Kuzma gives the team shooting and versatility. However, the real concern right now is the durability of Lonzo Ball, who’s ankles are about as stable as the Knicks front office. The Lakers need to hope Kuzma, Ball, and Brandon Ingram make major strides this year, or their plan to attract big free agents next summer will be obliterated.
Speaking of Lonzo Ball, his father Lavar was back in the news last week. Lavar said he is going to pull LaMelo Ball out of school, and home school him for his final two years of high school. Lavar said this is simply because he doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the new head coach at Chino Hills. I’ve been a big believer in what Lavar is doing to create a brand, but home schooling your kids in the last two years of high school is one of the most short-sighted things I’ve ever heard of. What most people fail to realize is that going to school (and college as well) is about learning about yourself and building social skills, not just education. I can’t say I would expect Lavar to understand this though.
UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero rewarded basketball head coach Steve Alford with a one-year extension last week. This one isn’t going to sit well with the Bruins fans. It was only 18 months ago that people were questioning whether or not Alford was the guy to lead the program back to the Final Four. However, the extension for Alford and the continued support for football coach Jim Mora are more a reflection of the financial limitations at UCLA. The Bruin athletic program simply isn’t going to pony up the big dollars for big-time coaches, even for basketball, their profile sport. As long as Dan Guerrero is in charge, which will probably be for at least a couple of more years, I wouldn’t expect any bold “shoot for the moon” changes in the athletic program.
Finally, the NHL got their season underway last week which is always exciting. After Saturday’s nights’ Kings win over San Jose, I can’t decide if this is a new and improved Kings team, or the same old San Jose Sharks. In any case, it’s nice to see Anze Kopitar actually scoring some goals. The last time that happened, we actually had a President who wasn’t crazy. Meanwhile, the Ducks allegedly started their season on Thursday night too. You wouldn’t be able to tell though, because it looks like Anaheim doesn’t plan on showing up until the 2nd half of the season like last year.