Monday Morning Coffee

October 2, 2023

The Rams had some trouble, but they took care of business yesterday against the Colts. Once the Rams add Cooper Kupp into the offense alongside Kyren Williams, Puka Nacua, Higbee, and Stafford. They might be a problem. Suddenly, choosing Williams over Cam Akers seems like a brilliant move as well. After last week, I was beginning to wonder if Sean McVay was capable of committing to a run game, and having a balanced attack, but yesterday he did for a bit, then abandoned it. I hope he sticks with it because the Rams have an advantage when they do, and he reduces the injury risk to an older Matt Stafford. That was a huge reason why the Colts got back in the game. Hopefully a lesson learned for McVay.

As for the Chargers, it took playing the Raiders, but they find the win column. Not even Brandon Staley could screw this one up. Well sort of. The Bolts didn’t score in the 3rd and 4th quarters against a team with a mediocre defense and a rookie quarterback. Of course the game also included Staley making weird decisions like going for it on 4th down again and calling a QB sneak, resulting in no gain at their own 34 yard line. I still think many of you though are underestimating just how much the Spanos’ love Staley, and how much they hate the idea of firing him and paying another coach. It’s hard to have any confidence this team is going anywhere this season, and they could easily be 0-4.

Elsewhere around week 4 of the NFL, if we played a drinking game where every time Taylor Swift was mentioned on Sunday Night Football and you had to take a shot, you would definitely be dead at the end of the 1st quarter. The Chiefs hung on to beat the Jets. I guess the Miami Dolphins can’t score 70 points when they play real competition, as they got dismantled by the Bills. The Jaguars dominated the Falcons in London, and England has informed the US that the next time they sent the Falcons to play in London it will be considered an act of terror and they will declare war on the United States. The Broncos rallied to beat the Bears in a game that featured two teams that were so bad, it should have been aired on Comedy Central.

To College Football, where the Trojans may be undefeated, but they aren’t nearly as good as we all thought. They took care of Colorado, but their defense is absolutely atrocious. Poor tackling, poor scheming, bad play calling, and just downright poor defensive coaching. This team is completely dependent on Caleb Williams having some ridiculous video game stats in a game, and putting up 50 points in a game. At this point, that makes them no better than the 3rd best team in the PAC-12 right now behind Oregon and Washington. Caleb Williams is making a strong case to be a repeat Heisman Trophy winner, which is one thing Trojan fans can feel good about. However, every game from here on out, everyone is going to be asking Lincoln Riley if he is going to be “tarmac-ing” his defensive coordinator, Alex Grinch.

Elsewhere around College Football, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame had a very gutty win against surprising Duke. I think most Notre Dame fans thought their team was dead in the final minute, before Sam Hartman scrambled for his life for that 1st down. Ole Miss took down LSU and their fans rushed the field. Even Abercrombie & Fitch thinks that’s way too many khaki shorts and polos in one place. Georgia woke up from a nap late in the game to survive their game against Auburn. Florida will also get bounced from the Top 25 after losing to Kentucky, and especially after not being able to stop this play with 13 men on the field.

To baseball, where the Dodgers wrapped up the regular season yesterday against the Giants, and are ready for the NLDS. Look, I don’t like the Dodgers chances in this years playoffs. I simply don’t believe in their pitching. Clayton Kershaw looked great Saturday, but he’s a vulnerable health risk at this stage, and everyone else behind him has no playoff experience. With that being said, the best thing the Boys in Blue have going for them is that Miami, Philadelphia, and the Braves are on the other side of the playoff bracket for them. If you had to choose, Milwaukee or Arizona are far more appealing opponents in a short series. Of course, it would be the most baseball thing ever if this was the year the Dodgers actually won the World Series in a year in which we thought they had no chance.

As for the Angels, their season ended and possibly the Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani era. Sure enough, the Athletic did another piece on how the Halos haven’t had a winning season for the six years they’ve had arguably the two best players in baseball. It was very predictable though, reiterating everything we’ve known. Arte Moreno does not spend money on player development and scouting, among many other non-payroll areas, which is killing his franchise. Also, just to remind you how soft people are these days, a kid came to the game over the weekend with a sign that said “sell the team”. Security asked him to take down the sign. I did not realize that going to Angels games was basically the equivalent of entering a communist regime.

We’re just a few days away from NBA training camps opening up. Perhaps the dumbest “I have no idea what I’m talking about” rumor that was out there was that the Lakers were considering trading for Dame Lillard. This was stupid, because the Lakers do not have anybody under contract they can trade until December 15th, other than Lebron, who we know would not be in that trade. I’m actually astonished at the 3-team deal between the Suns, Bucks, and Blazers, which ultimately sent Dame to Milwaukee. It’s possible that all 3 teams are worse than before the trade. The Suns got a bunch of guys that are unplayable for their starting center. The Bucks were already contenders without Dame and are worse defensively, and the Blazers aren’t good enough to make the playoffs or bad enough to tank now. If you’re a Laker fan, no need to be terribly concerned.

Then there’s the Clippers. I can’t believe they arrested the guy who murdered Tupac before they won an NBA Championship. The Clips also have to be a little bummed that they were unable to get in on the Jrue Holiday sweepstakes, in all the Dame madness. Holiday is an all-star, and an excellent two-way player. He actually even shot better than Dame from 3 last season. He’s the type of playmaking point guard that the Clippers need, but they didn’t have the assets to get him, as Holiday ended up with the Celtics. It’s also interesting they added Josh Primo, who is super talented, but has had issues with women, and in this era, that can be a problem. Something tells me if this weren’t the Clippers, more people would be talking about it. It’s disappointing but nevertheless, the Clippers fate will always be dependent on the availability of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Monday Morning Coffee

Kenneth Murray Jr. intercepts a pass in the end zone in the waning seconds to save the Chargers' win over the Vikings.

September 25, 2023

Let’s be honest, the Chargers did not deserve to win that game yesterday. If it had not been for a lucky interception by Kenneth Murray Jr, combined with some ineptitude from the Vikings offense, Branon Staley would be getting cooked right now. This guy is repeatedly making completely moronic decisions, and the latest was going for it on 4th down late in the 4th quarter deep in his own territory. This guy is like a 7 year old just learning to play Madden on Play Station. Somebody needs to take the controller from him. Of course he made the ridiculous excuse that it shows he believes in his defense. Unfortunately for the Bolts, not only is Staley still their coach this morning, but receiver Mike Williams could be lost for the season with a knee injury. That was one win they desperately needed and got, but it proved to be extremely costly in a multitude of ways.

The Rams are getting ready to take on the Bengals tonight in a Monday Night Football showdown. This isn’t quite the same two teams that met in the Super Bowl 17 months ago, but still a compelling matchup. The Rams look much better than everyone thought, while the Bengals look much worse than everyone thought. This would certainly be a nice win for the Rams to get in the early going, and take advantage of a struggling Bengals team, but I would expect them to come out with desperation. The Rams also finally traded Cam Akers to the Vikings. Apparently Akers has not been paying attention to what’s been happening to running backs around the league. He must think he should be valued or something, but not a single running back is. All he needs to do is ask Jonathan Taylor, Saquon Barkley, or Josh Jacobs.

Elsewhere around the NFL, the Denver Broncos should be relegated to the CFL after the Dolphins dropped 70 points on them. The fact that Patrick Mahomes has to answer questions about Taylor Swift in a post game interview is both hilarious and embarrassing. On the other hand, Donna Kelce has two sons playing in the NFL, and one of them could make Taylor Swift her daughter-in-law. That’s the ultimate American white woman hat trick. How about ‘dem Cowboys? Or not? Dallas got stunned by Arizona, who I’m not even sure is trying to win football games this year. The Jets are calling all their season ticket holders this morning to see if they have an interest in replacing Zach Wilson at quarterback, after losing to the Patriots. The Steelers took down the Raiders on Sunday Night Football, but George Pickens probably needs to work on his blocking.

In College Football, USC struggled, but eventually took care of Arizona State on Saturday in Tempe. This was one of those games where Caleb Williams improvisation skills, along with the talent of his receivers bailed the Trojans out of trouble. USC had trouble with both penalties and turnovers in this one, and the defense had their own issues as well. The Trojans should have no issue with Colorado next week, despite all their hype, but if they plan on getting through the conference schedule unscathed, they will have to clean up every other aspect of their game around Williams. The more he has to use his improvisation skills, as we saw last year, the more susceptible he is to injury. Once that happens, SC can kiss their playoff chances goodbye.

Meanwhile, the Bruins lost a defensive slug fest at Utah. The game was basically decided when Dante Moore threw that pick-6 on the first play from scrimmage. UCLA can’t be that unhappy though. They were right there with a Top 10 team in the country, their defense looked tough, and Moore showed some grit, coming back and throwing a touchdown late in the game. This is just part of the development curve for him, and there will be growing pains along the way. UCLA fell out of the Top 25, but something tells me they will get back in there very soon.

Elsewhere around College Football, what a horrible way for Notre Dame to lose to Ohio State, in an otherwise fantastic game. Do you know how many mistakes have to be made for there to be 10 guys on the field for not one but two plays? I mean it probably would have helped to have one more guy on the field, on a play where the running back barely makes it in the end zone. Meanwhile the Deion Sanders haters are probably out in full force on Twitter again after Colorado got dismantled by Oregon. Then there was Alabama taking care of Ole Miss. Tide fans haven’t been this excited since they found out it was legal to marry your cousin in their state.

I don’t know how much longer he can keep this up, but what Clayton Kershaw is doing right now is simply remarkable, and a reminder of just how great he is. The guy has a very cranky shoulder, yet the Dodgers desperately need him to pitch, even every 6 days. Every time he pitches, it’s brilliant. His velocity is under 90 mph, yet he finds a way to work the edges and figure out how to be effective. Since he seems to be requiring about 6 days of rest, he may only be good for one playoff start a series, so they’ll have to use him very strategically.

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The Lakers extended Jared Vanderbilt last week. His new contract is 4 years and $48 million. Some of you naysayers will question the contract because he’s not a big offensive threat, but if so, you’re not paying attention. The salary cap is going up, and that means players are getting paid more. $12 million a year for a versatile defender like Vando, who can play multiple positions and rebound well is still a reasonable deal. Plus at some point, the Lakers could need some tradeable salary, and Vando gives them that, even with the 4 year term. It’s really another sensible move by Rob Pelinka.

Finally, speaking of the Lakers, I’m extremely disappointed that HBO cancelled “Winning Time”. You cannot end a series like this with the Lakers losing to the Celtics in the 1984 NBA Finals. Then again from HBO’s standpoint, content and ratings are very fickle, and tastes can change quickly. They want to make cheap content that appeals to the masses, and not interesting, expensive content that appeals to niche audience. Then again, something tells me that this may not be the end of the series, and that somebody else may pick it up. Well, at least that’s what I’m hoping.

Monday Morning Coffee

September 18, 2024

I don’t know if the Rams are legit, but they sure looked pretty good against the 49ers yesterday. I mean the 49ers are supposed to be this all-world, nobody can beat them, greatest team of all-time according to the media. So this has to be a pretty good measuring stick. They were in the game up until the end, and might have even won were it not for Kyren Williams taking his eye off a pass that led to an interception. Matt Stafford has only been sacked once in two games, and Puca Nakua is producing like he’s Jerry Rice out there. Then there’s the weird Cam Akers situation, where it suddenly appears he’s done with the Rams. Sean McVay and Akers are talking to each other through the media like an old married couple that is on the verge of a divorce after the 1,000th fight. Meanwhile, Kyren Williams has taken over the starting job, and sounds like the new girlfriend waiting in the wings, talking like the ink on the divorce papers is already dry. I don’t really see how there is a market for Cam Akers at this point, but also don’t think he has much of a future with the Rams. Nevertheless, will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

I am running out of things to say about the Chargers faltering in the clutch against teams they should beat. Maybe I should just start copying and pasting the same content about them every week and it should work just fine? Once again, they blew a double digit lead, took some very undisciplined penalties, and couldn’t make the clutch plays in overtime when they needed to. This continues to be a Brandon Staley problem, but we all know about that by now. If the Bolts can’t beat the Vikings and Raiders, they might as well pack it in because the schedule is going to get a heck of a lot tougher after that with the Cowboys and Chiefs looming. They are the Chargers for a reason. They also are getting exactly what they are paying for in coaching.

Elsewhere around the NFL, Joe Burrow has turned into Andy Dalton after signing his extension, and the Bengals are now 0-2 after losing to the Ravens. The Cowboys are having way more success right now than their fans are probably used to. Tyreek Hill looks like he’s playing against little children out there as the Dolphins beat up the Patriots. Gotta feel bad for Aaron Rodgers and the Jets, especially after seeing Zach Wilson, but hope he’s able to have a speedy recovery, and sounds like he’s determined too.

To College Football where UCLA looked pretty good against North Carolina Central over the weekend, and Dante Moore continues to look like a star. Things are going to get real for the Bruins now when they play Washington State next week, followed by Oregon State. Chip Kelly still doesn’t want to publicly commit to Moore, which is idiotic. We all know he is the guy, and all Kelly can say is “we should probably get him more reps”. I know it’s probably easy to say the Bruins haven’t played anybody yet, but keep in mind that they started the same way last season and ended up being a good team despite their expectations. Their defense also looks legit, holding opponents to under 20 points in all 3 games, and Moore is getting better with every snap he takes. Show us what you’ve got next week Chip, and then we can talk.


USC had a bye week, but they’ll take on ASU next week in Tempe. The Trojans are still ranked at #5 in the AP Poll, but there’s two things that should be concerning to them. The first is the fact they are the most penalized team in the PAC-12. That’s always killed them, even dating back to the Clay Helton era. Then there’s the schedule. The PAC-12 is a gauntlet with 8 ranked teams. They might be able to afford one-loss, but two? Forget about the College Football Playoff.

Look, I think what Deion Sanders is doing at Colorado is awesome. However, the hype machine has gone way too overboard at this point. They barely beat Colorado State. The game was exciting, but at best, they are probably an upstart fringe Top 25 team. They certainly keep it interesting, but the coverage around them is insane. The star power though is also insane, given that Deion made $1.2 million with Blenders Eyewear in one day, after Colorado State Head Coach Jay Norvell criticized him for wearing shades all the time. That’s the ultimate troll!

To baseball, where the Dodgers clinched the division title over the weekend by sweeping the Marlins. They have now won the NL West 10 out of 11 years. Before you start saying we only care about the championships (and yes that’s true), keep in mind that everybody picked the Padres to win the division. Meanwhile, the Padres won’t even make the playoffs, and will be searching for answers on their Cancun vacations in the next couple of weeks. The fact the Dodgers did this by plugging more kids into their lineup and into their rotation speaks to just how good their player development is. The pitching going into the postseason is obviously still a concern, including Clayton Kershaw’s drop in velocity, but there’s still a few weeks to try and figure this out before it’s show time in October.

Why do the Angels manage everything so poorly? Shohei Othani is getting shut down for the season, the Halos said nothing for a while, making it look like he cleaned out his locker because he was done with the team. They also kept Anthony Rendon’s injury a total secret, rather than saying he fractured his tibia. Rendon probably wouldn’t have continued to make himself look like a douchebag anyway, but still poorly handled. I also have no idea why Mike Trout wants to put himself back in the lineup for the last two weeks of the season. That just feels like more of a health risk for him, especially if he’s going to be traded.

Monday Morning Coffee

September 11, 2023

I was told the Rams were going to be garbage. Apparently their demise were greatly exaggerated. They handled the Seahawks without Cooper Kupp, with a bunch of dudes you’ve never heard of as wide outs, and on defense. It’s just a reminder of how competent you can be with solid coaching, a good quarterback, and a good offensive line. I’m not sitting here telling you the Rams are some Super Bowl juggernaut. But the idea of them bottoming out looks very unlikely. Then again, if the Matt Stafford trade showcase has begun, we may be having a different conversation.

As for the Chargers, new season, same dreadful outcomes. I was told Brandon Staley was a defensive coach, yet his team just gave up 536 yards of total offense. Once again, this team still finds a way to lose games in the biggest moments. If you’re a fan, this is like loving someone that will simply never love you back. This is the least surprising thing I’ve seen since the last time I saw the Chargers play.

Elsewhere around the NFL in Week 1, the Giants dismantled the Cowboys, and Danny Dimes looks like he should be paid about a dime for his play instead of $44 million. Travis Kelce and his agent are just counting the dollars on his next contract after missing Thursday Night Football and the Chiefs lost to the Lions. The Denver Broncos still have NEVER beaten the Las Vegas Raiders. The Browns must have gotten DeShaun Watson a really good masseuse or two before the game, because he played well enough for Cleveland to beat the Bengals. The Eagles won, but they probably don’t feel great. Everybody expects them to be good, which usually means they won’t be good though. Meanwhile, if Ryan Tannehill keeps throwing interceptions, DeAndre Hopkins is going to fight him. Kenny Pickett played so bad for the Steelers yesterday in their loss to the 49ers, they might lock him out of the building this morning.

In College Football, that was quite a beating USC put on Stanford over the weekend at The Coliseum. Caleb Williams looked like he was playing a video game again, piling up another 281 yards and three touchdowns in just one half of work against the Cardinal. Also, considering that USC didn’t allow Stanford to score until the final minutes, for now it seems their defense is holding up. Williams is probably annoyed for two reasons right now though. First, he is probably being told nobody will vote for him again for The Heisman Trophy, even if he cures cancer, just because the voters like to see new kids win it. Then he’s probably annoyed that his dad is telling people that he may return to USC next year if it looks like he’s going to go to an NFL team that stinks. Sorry pops, but no matter when your son goes to the NFL, he’s going to go to a team that stinks. That’s just how the system works. You may be able to keep your kid getting paid and getting laid by sorority girls for a year, but eventually, your kid will have to start playing for a bad NFL team. In the meantime, up next is a duel in the desert with Arizona State for the Trojans in two weeks.

As for UCLA, it’s amazing how good Dante Moore looks. He threw for 290 yards and three touchdowns, and the Bruins dominated the Aztecs 35-10 in San Diego. After all that, and not even playing Ethan Garbers, Chip Kelly still refused to publicly say Moore was going to be his starter. That’s nice Chip, but we all know that if you plan on trying to win football games this year, Moore is your guy. I’m sure Garbers and the rest of his teammates would agree, especially after wide receiver Logan Loya said “he’s going to be a star”. I’m not necessarily convinced the Bruins are some conference title contender, but they probably crack the Top 25 this week, and if they continue to play Moore, he’ll continue to get better, and they may surprise a few teams.

To the NBA where Rob Pelinka should probably be arrested for shoplifting. The man signed big man Christian Wood to a veteran minimum contract. Wood may have his attitude issues, but given that he’s playing for the equivalent of NBA welfare, he’s going to be on his best behavior. He’s also extremely talented, can stretch the floor, and will give the Lakers additional front court depth and versatility. In this age of load management, he’ll be a very nice luxury to give Anthony Davis a break, and he’ll get his share of playing time to make an impact. Forgot all this adding a 3rd star nonsense. The Lakers have had a very sensible off-season, and it should at minimum, put them in the hunt for title contention this season, even in an extremely competitive Western Conference. That’s all you can ask for if you’re a fan.

As for those of you wondering if there’s any progress in the Clippers attempts to acquire James Harden, there is not. Multiple sources have repeatedly reported that the Clippers are not willing to trade anything more than picks and expiring contracts for the Sixers disgruntled and strip club loving star. Nor should they. They might be more interesting with him, but they don’t need him. Instead, they need their stars to be healthy and available, whether Harden is on the team or not. On the other hand though, Daryl Morey cannot afford to trade Harden for pennies on the dollar. His best bet is to keep him, or else the optics look really bad in front of his star, Joel Embiid.

Speaking of basketball, I love how some of you still act like it’s 1992 when hearing that Team USA lost in international competition. Since clearly a lot of you don’t understand how this works today, we can no longer win an international competition without sending our very best players, and even then it’s hardly a guarantee. Team USA didn’t even medal. They got 4th in The World Cup. Canada defeated them in the bronze medal game. Yes, I know most of you think that Canada is good for nothing but cheap medication and hockey, but they actually have NBA players that play for them in international competition. Of course when Team USA loses, it gets all the star players fired up to want to play in the Olympics. However, I don’t know why Lebron and Anthony Davis want to do it at their advanced age. On the bright side though, this tournament was a great showcase for Austin Reaves, who is getting better with every game he is playing, and may even be an NBA All-Star one day.

In a matter of 7 days, the Dodgers playoff chances look like they are in shambles. Much of this has to do with their rapidly declining number of good starting pitching options. Julio Urias is an idiot, who got himself in another domestic abuse incident. He’ll probably never pitch for the Dodgers again, and will be lucky if he gets to pitch in the majors again. He can kiss his fat contract goodbye too, because he was pitching poorly this season. Walker Buehler announced he won’t return this season, Clayton Kershaw’s velocity is suddenly down because he doesn’t look healthy, and Lance Lynn remembered that he’s…….Lance Lynn. That leaves a bunch of inexperienced kids that will likely have to come through in October like Bobby Miller, Emmit Sheehan, Ryan Pepiot, and Gavin Stone. That’s a scary thought considering these guys have such limited MLB experience, let alone playoff experience, despite their promising talent.

Meanwhile, what’s happening for the Angels on the field isn’t really interesting anymore, as they are now out of playoff contention. However, what is interesting is that Bob Nightengale from USA Today is now reporting that if Mike Trout asks for a trade, the Angels are open to trading him. That sounds like a big deal, but how big can this dude’s market really be? He has a no-trade clause, he’s 32, he’s owed $249 million for the next 7 years, and he’s missed 249 games in 3 years. The fact they are leaking this makes me think they may be trying to free up some additional money to increase their bid for Ohtani. Also, don’t completely count the Angels out of the Ohtani sweepstakes. His injury clouds his pitching future, which could bring him closer to the value the Halos can pay, especially since the Angels give him the power to do what he wants and shield him from the media. What about winning? Well perhaps Ohtani decides to take a one year deal to rehab his value, and then take his max pay day elsewhere in the fall of 2024. Is it likely? No, but it’s a possibility you can completely dismiss.

Monday Morning Coffee

September 4, 2023

Happy Labor Day everyone! The Dodgers were definitely bullied this weekend at the Ravine by the Atlanta Braves. There’s no question going into October, the Braves should be the definitive favorites to come out of the NL. However, that shouldn’t really bother you if you’re a Dodger fan. That’s because having the best record in baseball and being the favorite has basically been a death sentence for that team in the postseason the past twenty years or so. While that might not make sense on paper, in reality, it actually makes plenty of sense. The best thing the Dodgers have going for them is that they won’t be the favorites this year. They also should have Walker Buehler, JD Martinez, and Clayton Kershaw in October, which they didn’t have in this series due to injury, or just the schedule in Kershaw’s case. I think it’s fair to say though that Bobby Miller made a statement yesterday that he should be in the postseason rotation, regardless of what Andrew Friedman’s computer says. Hopefully Max Muncy’s injury isn’t too serious though.

As for the Angels, what a pathetic display we’ve seen from this organization over the past week. They put every player they acquired at the trade deadline on waivers, just so they could get under the luxury tax. I’m sure Angel fans were hoping that somehow Arte could be put on waivers too, but sadly, that’s not possible. Then they lose 2 of 3 to the Phillies, then they get swept by the A’s, the worst team in baseball. On top of that, Mike Trout says he plans to talk to Angels brass about the future of the organization, and had no comment when asked if he might ask for a trade. However, what he probably doesn’t realize is that his trade value is probably worth a bag of chips right now considering he’s been injured and he makes a ton of money. Don’t feel bad though Mike, your teammate, Anthony Rendon is a worthless pile of garbage, who isn’t even worth a pack of gum either at this point. Besides, how can he talk to Angels brass about his future, when it’s quite possible they won’t even be around. Bob Nightengale says that Arte Moreno is deciding whether or not to keep skipper Phil Nevin, and GM Perry Minasian after this season. That sounds like a solid plan when you are in the process of trying to keep the great free agent of all time from signing with another franchise.

To College Football, where USC dominated Nevada over the weekend at the Coliseum. Caleb Williams looked like he was playing PlayStation out there, throwing 5 touchdown passes, and slinging the ball around the yard like he’s Al Bundy. More importantly for USC, their defense actually had it together this game. The held Nevada to 49 yards in 38 carries, the lowest rushing total for a USC opponent since Arizona State’s 47-yard total on Nov. 9, 2019. The Trojans should feel good about that but where they should be concerned is how rough the PAC-12 suddenly looks. It’s so tough, I have no idea how any team in the conference could get through the season undefeated. The Trojans shouldn’t have any problem with Stanford next week though.

Then there’s UCLA, which took down Coastal Carolina by pulling away late. The story though was Dante Moore. I was beginning to think Chip Kelly was going to wait to play him until he entered the transfer portal. Ethan Garbers played ok, but you simply cannot deny the talent that Moore has, and what kind of upside the team can have with him developing every game and leading that offense. It’s hard for me to believe that the Bruins are going to be that great with the conference being so stacked, but things might be looking up for them with Moore after this year, even as they head to the Big 10.

I realize that the cable model is completely screwed up at this point. However, Spectrum is making a huge mistake by not carrying ESPN at the worst time of year. The only thing that is keeping the cable model alive right now is live sports. For Spectrum to reach an impasse over the distribution rights with ESPN, that’s extremely shortsighted. If you aren’t going to carry live sports, even if it’s ESPN and their woke crap, then you might as well just give up on the cable business, because that’s the only thing keeping the model alive.

To the NBA, where the Lakers are about a month away from training camp opening. However, it’s that time of year where we get to hear ridiculous rumors and names. The ones that came up in the past week were Giannis, and Trae Young. Giannis, who is rumored to potentially ask for a trade if the Bucks don’t continue to show they are in contention, is now being rumored to be headed to the Lakers. This is the type of thing that is discussed on talk radio, but would never actually happen anytime soon, or unless Giannis forced his way out. Then there were sources that suggested that the Lakers were interested in Trae Young previously. That was probably before they realized that they already have a third star in Austin Reaves. Again, this type of thing is only talked about in fantasy chat rooms and talk radio, with almost no chance of it actually happening. Besides, every single great player is linked to the Lakers.

Finally, can we just call Kelly Stafford “The Pillow Snitch”? I don’t care if she has a podcast or not. Why does she think it’s ok to be just spilling info about her husband’s relationship with his teammates? Is she naive enough to think that his teammates won’t begin to resent him knowing that he told her these things? Between Stafford’s minor friction with teammates, Cooper Kupp’s injury, this is already trending toward a season the Rams could give up on quickly.

Monday Morning Coffee

August 28, 2023

USC took the field on Saturday night against San Jose State to open the season. The Trojans earned a decisive victory as you would have expected in Week 0. However, coincidentally, “0” is also an excellent description of the level the Trojan defense played at. USC couldn’t stop the run, giving up massive gains on the ground late in the game, while also giving up an average of over 4 yards per carry. They had a huge busted coverage at the end of the 2nd quarter, and had 5 penalties on defense and special teams. Caleb Williams is still phenomenal with his four touchdown passes, but if USC has plans to win the PAC-12 and go to the College Football Playoff, they have a lot of work to do on the defensive end. Of course Lincoln Riley defended the group, but you could have taken everything he said from last year early on, and just replayed it this year.

Elsewhere around College Football, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame had a statement win over Navy in their Week 0 opener. It must be some kind of a disrespect from the Football Gods if Notre Dame ever loses a game in Ireland. Sam Hartman looks solid, throwing 4 touchdown passes, and the offensive line couldn’t have looked any better. The Irish should start 4-0 before the schedule gets real. They’ll have showdowns against Ohio State, USC, and Clemson, who are all pre-season top 10 teams. This is probably a 10-2 or 9-3 team going to a good bowl game, but probably not going to the College Football Playoff.

To baseball, where this might have been the worst week in the history of the Angels. Shohei Ohtani tears his UCL, putting the future of his pitching career in question, and Mike Trout went back on the injured list with a hand injury. Seeing Perry Minasian hold a press conference announcing this was like watching an episode of The Office. Arte Moreno is so cheap, I’m surprised he didn’t say that he’s taking the team to Zankou Chicken after the game to cry in their hummus, while being limited to dark meat and one pita each. In all seriousness, this franchise is fundamentally flawed. Over dependent on two stars, who’s durability is now in serious question, and with little investment in infrastructure around them. Sorry Arte, this isn’t the NBA. The only good news for the Angels is that this new injury may lower Ohtani’s off-season market value, to a point where the Angels might actually be able to compete for his services. That bad news though is that if they can’t put a winning team on the field with him making $30 million a year, what makes them think they can put a winning team on the field with him making $50 million a year or more?

As for the Dodgers, they took 2 of 3 from the Red Sox, and have all but put the NL West division away. Julio Urias struggled a little on Saturday again, which is still somewhat concerning, but the Dodgers need to find a way to get their pitching in better form over the next month. It’s certainly been better than earlier in the season, but it all comes down to the health and performance of Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias, Lance Lynn, and Bobby Miller. As for how the Ohtani injury impacts their off-season outlook, it only further reinforces what I thought before: there is no baseball player who is worth a $500 million contract. Ohtani would certainly brings a level of marketability to the Dodgers, but who knows if he will ever be a durable front line starting pitcher again. The success rate after two Tommy John surgeries is low, so why would we think this would be any different? Sure he’s phenomenal as a DH, but the Dodgers could easily get 5-6 really good players for that price.

Congratulations to El Segundo on winning The Little League World Series. Luis Lappe hit a walk-off home run to clinch it in dramatic fashion. Can you imagine being 12-years old and experiencing something like that? That kid is going to be spending the next few weeks visiting the likes of Disneyland and The White House. Hopefully someone explains to Joe Biden what actually happened 50 times so he can remember.

The Rams finished up their pre-season slate by getting demolished on Saturday by the Broncos, 41-0. Pretty much anybody that played in that game should be cut, or never see much time after that embarrassment. I’m mildly concerned about the inexperience, especially on the defensive side of the football. I’m also worried that Aaron Donald said he’s not where he wants to be about a week ago, Cooper Kupp might be coming off injury, and who knows what Matthew Stafford will look like considering we haven’t seen him in an NFL game in a while. The over/under is 6 wins which I thought is way too low, but now I’m wondering if Vegas knows something that we do not!

I love seeing how much Austin Reaves has improved his game. He looks like he’s getting better and better with every FIBA game I see him play. The USA has had some close calls, but you gotta remember, all the international teams have NBA players too. It’s pretty difficult to win without sending our very best players. France has NBA players too but they lost early. Nic Batum said he’s never been more ashamed to wear a jersey. I don’t know what he’s talking about though. He should be way more ashamed to walk around in a Clipper jersey in Los Angeles.

Monday Morning Coffee

August 21, 2023

I think it’s safe to say that the race for the NL West is over. The Dodger lead has ballooned to 11.5 games over the Giants. On one hand, that sounds great because the Dodgers can relax a little bit in September. On the other hand, there are 5 teams within 1.5 games of the last two Wild Card spots. That means as we’ve seen before, two of those teams are going to go into October with a hell of a lot of momentum, and could be extremely dangerous to teams that don’t need to play with urgency, like the Dodgers and Braves. We’ve only seen it tons of times the past few years. It’s like the 5th installment of a bad horror movie. It’s also a shame to see Tony Gonsolin going down with another arm injury, and likely done for the season. The man clearly has not been himself since getting injured in the 2nd half of last season, where he pitched more innings than he’s ever had. It’s going to be a long way back for The Cat Man. I was happy to see the Dodgers win with some small ball over the weekend, with Austin Barnes with a perfectly executed suicide squeeze. The Dodgers will need more of that in the postseason, against elite pitching, rather than sitting back and waiting for the 3-run homer. That is the approach the Dodgers need to think about to be more successful in the postseason than they have been over the last decade.

As for the Angels, they got beaten up by the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend. They are now 11.5 games back in the West, and 8.5 games back of the Wild Card. There’s also 3 teams to jump over to get that last playoff spot. I’m not sure what’s left for this bunch. It’s gotten so bad, the Halos are now the punching bag of jokes for other teams. On the Diamondbacks broadcast over the weekend, the Angels were described as “an annual joke”. The D’Backs have won fewer division titles and have the same number of playoff appearances as the Angels in the past decade, and even they are talking smack. The Rays broadcast teams also violated the Halos this weekend when they said “it never really feels like you are out of the game when you’re playing the Angels”. The LA Times even piled on with an article about how the Halos are one of only two franchises that don’t send their radio team on the road to broadcast their games, and instead they have them call the games from a studio. Does Arte Moreno even have any pride anymore? The man is truly the laughing stock of MLB owners at this point, and even more so among Southern California sports fans. I’m not sure what the Angels have left this season, other than trying to pretend like they can put a decent franchise around Shohei Ohtani to get him to stay beyond this year.

The NBA schedule is out. For any team in the West, the schedule is just going to look tough because the conference is stacked. However, I don’t expect the Lakers to start 2-10 next season, and I certainly don’t expect them to scramble to get into the playoffs like last season. That’s because they have a huge advantage in the middle of the season. From January 1 to January 24 the Lakers will only leave California once (to Utah). From February 22 (post All-Star Break) to March 24, the Lakers will only leave California once (to Phoenix). That is 55 days of the 2023-24 season where the Lakers will do minimal travel. They will have to endure 15 back-to-back games, but don’t be fooled, the Lakers are a young team. Lebron James is their only older player, and even Anthony Davis is just 30 years old. That stretch at home in the dog days of the season should really benefit them. Also, savvy move by Adam Silver to schedule the Lakers against the Nuggets on opening night. Nobody would give a crap about the Nuggets raising the banner otherwise.

Why is this James Harden noise such a story? The dude is about to be on his 4th team in 3 years. He’s 34, and he’s simply not that guy anymore. He thinks he is though. With that being said, Daryl Morey still knows that he gave up a lot for Harden, and that his best move to stay in contention is to keep him. For those of you that keep thinking it’s inevitable he’s going to be a Clipper, don’t count on it. The Clippers want him, but they aren’t going to open the vault to get him at all costs. This isn’t prime James Harden. He comes with baggage and risk. No matter how much Harden stomps his feet and cries about it, he knows that he has to report to training camp, or else the Sixers can prevent him from becoming a free agent next summer. Still, nobody knows how to cost himself money like James Harden.

I have no idea what to make of the Rams in the preseason so far. Cam Akers is throwing punches at opposing players, Matt Stafford looks sharp in practice, Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee are getting healthy, and Aaron Donald hasn’t done much. I refuse to put any stock in the loss over the weekend to the Raiders in the preseason, or the week before against the Chargers. Most of these guys will not be playing in week 1. I think it is fair to say however, that Stetson Bennett is looking like he will be the backup QB.

Meanwhile, the NFL doesn’t care about hurricanes, earthquakes, and potential tornadoes. Instead they are making the Chargers and Saints play a preseason game under those conditions. In all seriousness though, Hurricane Hillary is just a bunch of media hype, and nothing more than 24-48 hours of light rain that the media can manufacture a story out of.

Monday Morning Coffee

August 14, 2023

Are you really that surprised? The Dodgers are doing exactly what they’ve been doing for about a decade. They are dominating the NL West. You all thought it was the year of the Padres or D’Backs, but we took for granted that the Dodgers just have a very solid organization, no matter how much we criticize their approach. It turns out the off-season of limited spending on the likes of JD Martinez and Jayson Heyward is working out just fine, while the trade deadline additions of Kike Hernandez, Lance Lynn, and Ahmed Rosario are working out even better. Since the Dodgers couldn’t win much in October before, why not try a slightly different approach? Well so far, you can’t argue with that approach, especially when it lets dudes like James Outman, Michael Busch, and Bobby Miller develop faster. Even the starting pitching and the bullpen has been looking up, as the Dodgers have won 8 straight, and have a 7.5 game lead in the division. I still think this team will always be judged by what they do in October, because that’s just how it works for Los Angeles sports teams. But ultimately, their success then will depend on their approach, more than the talent they put on the field.

As for the Angels, they’ve lost 9 of their last 12 games since the All-Star break, and the team is in shambles. They are 11.5 games back in the division, and now 6.5 games back of a Wild Card spot. They also have to jump over 4 teams just to get that final playoff spot. The Halos are never going to make the playoffs getting their brains beat in by the Astros every year. Since 2017, the Halos are 40-78 against Houston. There’s no way at this point the talent gap between these two teams is that large. The mental edge though is much bigger when they step on the field. I also thought the pitching problems were being resolved, but they aren’t at all. Tyler Anderson has been nothing like the guy we saw last year, Reid Detmers has been awful of late, and Lucas Giolito has tanked since he was traded. It’s also a bit problematic when you have a bunch of lefties in your rotation with a short porch in right field in Houston. That’s just asking for more trouble. Also, Anthony Rendon is such an overpaid bum, we can’t even get injury updates on him anymore because the team already knows he’s a waste of $36 million a year.

To the NBA, where the Clippers and Sixers have reportedly ended trade talks for disgruntled guard James Harden. The Sixers plan to bring Harden to training camp, but now Harden has publicly called Philly GM Daryl Morey “A liar” and claims he will never be a part of an organization that he is part of. Morey is reportedly “unmoved” by Harden’s comments and still plans to keep him. This is one of those situations where nobody is wrong here for taking the positions that they have. James Harden took less money last year, and Morey verbally promised him that he would take care of him with a long-term deal this year. Now Morey doesn’t want to pay him that long-term deal because he knows Harden is not the player he once was. Harden has a right to be upset, but at the same time, Morey knows that if he trades Harden for pennies on the dollar, his superstar Joel Embiid will likely ask for a trade, which will dismantle the franchise. As for the Clippers, they have a good team, and it’s always been about health for Kawhi and PG13. If they can get Harden for their price, which is just expiring contracts, it makes sense. Otherwise, they are smart to move on. I still don’t see a circumstance though where Harden is traded. No matter what he says, he will be forced to play if he wants to sign another NBA contract. If there is a limited market for Damian Lillard, who hasn’t been traded, then there sure as hell is an even more limited market for Harden. Besides, even he has to realize there are only so many cities with great strip clubs in this country, which narrows his interests.

Meanwhile, only the Lakers would command coverage of who is going to take up the last roster spot. Otherwise, almost every other team, nobody would care. Everybody is talking about Christian Wood, since Rob Pelinka said he would like a big man, preferably with a different skill set. However, like anybody, Wood wants more money and a bigger role. I don’t know if anybody has told him, but it’s August, and the money has dried up. This is your market my man. Veteran minimum deals. It’s not so bad though. Malik Monk came in on a minimum deal, proved himself and got paid. Dennis Schroeder came in on a minimum deal, and got paid. The Lakers have a track record for getting guys paid, and Wood shouldn’t be concerned about playing time. History shows us that Anthony Davis probably isn’t going to be playing 82 games, so there will be minutes available for him in the front court. Unfortunately, dude and his agent still don’t see it yet.

Congratulations to Pau Gasol, Dwyane Wade, Jim Valvano, Greg Popovich, Tony Parker, Becky Hammond, Dirk Nowitzki, and others on their Hall of Fame Induction over the weekend. As I mentioned a few months ago when the Lakers retired Pau’s jersey, the man was a soon-to-be Hall-of-Famer, he is so deserving, and instrumental to the Lakers winning two straight titles in 2009 and 2010. Of course it was hard to listen to Pau’s speech and not want to cry when he talked about Kobe. You can see it for yourself here, just make sure you have a tissue in hand.

UCLA Football is just a couple of weeks away from opening the season. Chip Kelly has yet to name his starter, but the open competition is reportedly down to freshman standout Dante Moore, and red-shirt junior Ethan Garbers. Kelly says that he will not feel pressure to name Moore the starter, the highest rated QB prospect at UCLA in two decades, just out of fear that he could transfer to another school. So I guess we should all look forward to Dante Moore starting on September 2nd at the Rose Bowl against South Carolina.

As for the Trojans, their offensive line is supposedly improved, but by all accounts in practice it’s been a bumpy start. Given Caleb Williams ability to improvise, I think it’s more about the defense and how much they’ve improved since last season, which will determine just how good USC can be. USC is ranked #6 in the preseason AP Poll, and they are one of five PAC-12 Teams ranked in the Top 25. USC should easily start the season 6-0 before getting into the teeth of their schedule with four pre-season ranked opponents. The first 6 games are vs San Jose State, Nevada, Stanford, @ Arizona State, @ Colorado, Arizona. Then they’ll have Notre Dame and Utah in back-to-back weeks. If USC doesn’t handle business early, they will be crushed in the playoff poll due to their weak strength of schedule.

Am I crazy, or are the Rams trying to sell us on a rebuild this season? Les Snead came out a week ago and said they’ll return to being aggressive in 2024. Sean McVay also came out and stressed “patience”. Are these the same dudes who have been running the Rams? I don’t think when you have Matt Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Aaron Donald you can be that bad, but if one of those guys goes down, maybe they will be worse than we think. Then again, I’m beginning to think this might actually all be by design. I do have to say though, I like what I saw from Stetson Bennett over the weekend in preseason action. He’s showed some good poise after a few mistakes, and could develop into something.

Finally, there’s the Chargers, who had their own set of Door Dash drivers beat up the Rams collection of Door Dash drivers over the weekend. No real starters played on either side, but one spoke to the media about the ongoing talk about running backs and their compenstation: Austin Ekeler. He explained that the lack of running back compensation is a union issue that will need to be addressed. Ekeler was given a $1.75 million sweetner of incentives to get him to end his contentious negotiations with the Chargers. It’s a lot better than many of his running back counterparts in the NFL are doing. Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliott, Kareem Hunt, and Leonard Fournette all remain unemployed. These dudes are about to update their LinkedIn profiles looking for employment. Looks like unless they are going to take some incentive based deal for a million or two, they won’t be playing football anytime soon.

Monday Morning Coffee

August 7, 2023

Everybody wants to beat up the Dodgers for coming up empty on pitching at the trade deadline. You all know how critical I am of these guys in general, but I can’t blame Andrew Friedman and Stan Kasten on this one. They went hard for Justin Verlander, and hard for Eduardo Rodriguez, but neither one wanted to be Dodgers, no matter how good their offer was. Sure Verlander would have been nice with the Mets covering most of his salary and Rodriguez as a rental, but it’s not exactly like the Dodgers were acquiring Nolan Ryan in these deals. The team has a lot of pitching issues, but the good news is they may be getting help soon. Clayton Kershaw is due back next week after being on the injured list for a month, and Walker Buehler might come back to the starting rotation in September. That would be huge for a team in desperate need of good starters. There’s also a chance Gavin Lux could be available in a bench role come September, which could be significant if he’s on the playoff roster. The bullpen has even pitched a bit better, but this team still has more holes than swiss cheese for a potential division winner.

As for the Angels, it was a rather disastrous week, losing 6 straight games. This team is a complete tragedy at times. On the nights where the starting pitching looks good, the offense disappears like the USWNT (more on that later). On the nights where the offense is clicking, the pitching looks awful. They just find a way to lose when it matters most. They entered Sunday 10 games back in the division and 7 games back in the Wild Card. On paper, this team is one of the best they’ve assembled in 10 years. However, they don’t play on paper. On the field, the pitching isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, the leadership isn’t great, and neither is the in-game management. This is sadly going exactly like we thought it would after the trade deadline, and after seeing the Angels brutal schedule. Mike Trout can’t get back soon enough, but by the time he does, it will probably be too late. Meanwhile, Anthony Rendon is still being an idiot, on the IL and just refusing to talk to the media because he can since he claims he’s not active.

The Lakers have signed Anthony Davis to a three-year contract extension worth $186 million. My initial reaction here is that this is a wise move. You may not like the fact AD misses a lot of games, but when he is on the floor he is among the best players in basketball, and arguably the best defensive player in the game. If you were to trade Anthony Davis you would be getting lesser parts in return. In any case though, even when Lebron James move on, at minimum, Anthony Davis is an asset worth retaining to try and get value out of. He’s only 30 years old, so he still has some good basketball left in him. In general though, I wish teams would play hardball a bit more with players on these negotiations. It seems to be all or nothing on these max contracts. Why can’t it be something in between? I guess the precedent has been set that you will piss off your star players if you don’t offer them the max.

The collapse of the PAC-12 is just sad. You can no longer blame UCLA and USC for making the decision to leave last year, because 6 other teams just decided to in the past week. The saddest part about this is that the rivalries are going away. With Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah going to the Big 12, what will become of the UCLA and USC rivalries with the Arizona schools? With Oregon and Washington going to the Big 10, what will happen to the Ducks rivalry with Oregon State, and the Huskies rivalry with Washington State? Also, since the Big 10 now has 18 teams, we should probably stop calling it the Big 10. At this point the PAC 12 would struggle getting the University of Phoenix and Trump University to join their conference. Time to Pac it in. Ultimately, College Football is going to start looking incredibly different in the next 5 years with the conference realignment and the next phase of NIL. The only problem with this is that the much smaller schools, or schools with less media draw are going to get left behind.

Last week UCLA Basketball announced the signing of 7’3 Spanish center Aday Mara, who is projected to be a potential lottery pick. They also announced the signing of Berke Buyuktuncel, a Turkish wing/forward who has 1st round NBA draft pick potential. To be honest, I don’t really know what this means because nobody has seen a lot of these dudes play. The Bruins now have 7 freshman, they have a a lot of big bodies, and what appears to be a lot of skilled Euros, but not necessarily a lot of proven players in the backcourt. That part concerns me, but given the size and skill set of the freshmen they have acquired, they should be coming into the pre-season as a Top 25 team.

To the NFL, where the Rams are already dealing with an injury to Cooper Kupp. The All-Pro wide receiver pulled his hamstring and is considered week-to-week. This brings up an interesting concern. The Rams are going to be extra reliant this year on Kupp, Matthew Stafford, and Aaron Donald. When you have these 3 and you’re coached by Sean McVay, I expect them to compete for a playoff spot. However, if any of those 3 stars get injured for a significant length of time, there isn’t nearly enough depth to overcome that. The Rams also own their own 1st round pick for the first time in a while. With that being said, if these stars get injured, don’t be surprised if they shut it down to get involved in the “Caleb Williams sweepstakes”. Injuries aside, the national outlook on the Rams isn’t great, but I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as the media is making it out to be. The NFC isn’t that strong, neither is the NFC West, which makes me think the Rams could actually be a playoff team again.

Finally, the US Women’s National Team lost to Sweden in the round of 16 on penalty kicks yesterday. I certainly feel bad for Megan Rapinoe to end her career the way that she did, missing a PK. I’m also extremely annoyed that the USWNT made it political, and that the political crowed attacked them. Megan Rapinoe and others can have their opinions like anybody, but we don’t need to hear them when it’s about the soccer. Sports are supposed to be unifying. By bringing your political views on wages and inequality, you are bringing that into a platform that is not the time and place. As a result, we now have all these idiots, Donald Trump included, who are coming out of the woodwork to criticize them, instead of getting behind them and uniting.

Monday Morning Coffee

July 31st, 2023

Although we knew this was happening, we got confirmation of it last week: the Angels aren’t trading Shohei Ohtani by Tuesday’s trade deadline. They also confirmed the team is run by complete buffoons. They decided to be trade deadline buyers, and in the past few days have acquired pitcher Lucas Giolito, reliever Reynaldo Lopez, infielder CJ Cron, and outfielder Randal Grichuk. While I somewhat respect Arte Moreno for being a buyer and trying to make a playoff push now, Ohtani should have been traded a year ago. This is the worst trade deadline to be a buyer because all the players available are complete garbage. Giolito is probably the best pitcher available, and he’s so unbelievably average. Arte fooled himself and the team into thinking they were turning the corner, when they just played a couple of struggling and crummy teams, in the Yankees and Pirates. They lost 2 of 3 over the weekend to the Blue Jays, and now they are 4 games out of the wild card, and 5 games out of the division. They also have 3 teams to climb over just to get to the playoffs. The Halos might be the first team to be a buyer at the trade deadline, then finish double digit games out of a playoff spot. But hey, At least Arte can make some money in the last two months Ohtani is on the team.

Then there’s the Dodgers, who got bombed over the weekend by the Reds. The Boys in Blue still have a 2 game lead on the Giants for 1st place in the NL West, but they have some serious pitching problems, that just keep getting worse. Right now, there isn’t one reliable starter they can send to the mound. Even if Clayton Kershaw comes back in a week or two and looks good, that’s just one. Julio Urias looks nothing like the elite pitcher we’ve seen the last few years, and since he’s about to be a free agent, he’s losing money faster than spending a weekend at the Black Jack table in Vegas. Tony Gonsolin has been pretty mediocre as well. As I mentioned previously, this trade deadline is hot garbage, and there really isn’t one or two guys available that can help the Dodger pitching. Justin Verlander is old, expensive, and isn’t worth nearly the $40 million or so he’s getting paid this year and next. I also wonder how he would fit in the clubhouse since he was part of the 2017 Astros that cheated the Dodgers out of a World Series championship. Even the trades to get Kike and Ahmed Rosario don’t exactly move the needle much with both of them struggling for much of the year. I haven’t even mentioned the need for bullpen and outfield help either. That’s because there’s just too much for this team to overcome, and not enough help available to solve their issues.

You may have heard, last week Paul George criticized Stephen A Smith on his podcast, saying Stephen A shouldn’t be talking basketball because he never played the game. Whenever a pro athlete says this, that’s basically the only defense they have, because they know the criticism they are receiving is valid. Paul George is obviously just sticking up for Kawhi, and the reasons for all the games he’s missed. However, what George fails to realize is that it’s not about the games they are missing for injury. It’s about the games they are missing for load management. Games in which they are seemingly healthy, but sit out, and we know there are plenty of them. If George thinks Stephen A is wrong, as well as the rest of us, then he should listen to all the former NBA players that think this era is soft as well for their load management practices. Also, if he thinks none of us that played basketball at a high level should be talking basketball, then I’m not sure why he has Jackie Long on his podcast either.

To College Football, where USC is just weeks away from starting the season. The Trojans should easily be a top 10 team in the preseason rankings, a favorite to win the PAC 12, and a good shot at the College Football playoff. The least of the Trojan worries is quarterback Caleb Williams, who is one of the best players in College Football. However, the Trojans will only go as far as their defense takes them. Their defense has supposedly made improvements, on the defensive line in particular, but we’ll find out soon enough if that’s the case. The only problem with this theory is that Lincoln Riley’s teams have historically been terrible defensively.

As for the Bruins, they were predicted to finish 6th in the PAC-12 pre-season media poll. UCLA took advantage of a very soft schedule last year, and put together a halfway decent season. However, they lost a lot of talent in Dorian Thompson Robinson and Zach Charbonnet, among others. Dante Moore is a very promising quarterback, but he’s only projected as a 3rd stringer to begin the year. The PAC-12 is stacked with QB talent, so this last year in the conference just may not be the year for the Bruins.

Speaking of The PAC 12, this conference is toast. They have no media rights deal, Colorado just left, San Diego State isn’t coming, and the Trojans and Bruins have already declared they are leaving. Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff has inherited a mess left by Larry Scott, who should be working as a greeter at Costco instead of running an athletic conference. I don’t see how they survive without some form of consolidation of conferences in the sports. Why would anyone sign a media rights deal with them when teams are leaving the conference in droves? Total disaster for what was once a great conference.

I was really hoping the Rams would sign one of the big name veteran backs like ‘Zeke Elliott after Sony Michel announced his retirement. However, they settled for Royce Freeman. This tells me that veteran running backs are still seeking money that the Rams just don’t have, and that they are saving most of their cap space for next springs free agency.

And finally, Justin Herbert signed a massive contract extension with the Chargers last week. The contract is very well deserved, but the heat is now really on coach Brandon Staley. This guy is known for making terrible in-game decisions, blowing leads, and late-game implosions. It’s so bad, I don’t even know that the great Justin Herbert can overcome that. Nevertheless, the spotlight will really be on Staley now if the results aren’t there with all the talent this group has. Similar to the Clippers, we’ve been hearing about that talent for years, with nothing to show for it.