Monday Morning Coffee

May 27, 2024

Happy Memorial Day Everyone! I’m sure everyone is going to overreact to Rich Paul’s comments about Lebron being a free agent on Friday. Of course he’s a free agent people! Whether or not he opts out or not, for all intents and purposes, he has options. The outcome is rather predictable, as it always has been with Lebron’s free agency in the past, but Rich Paul didn’t really let anything slip on that podcast, so there’s no need to overreact. However, Rich Paul’s claim that Lebron is not involved in the coaching search is about as believable as Jennifer Lopez claiming she’s never had any work done. Actually, it would be almost stupid to not get his buy in to some extent, which he can admit. Unfortunately for the Lakers, it sounds like there is no chance of Donovan Mitchell becoming a Laker. Sam Amico reported earlier this week that Dan Gilbert would never trade Mitchell to the Lakers. That sounds like the kind of stupidity we’ve known from Gilbet for years. However, when you listen to the latest episode of the JJ Redick and Lebron James podcast, it sounds like both of them are bought into the idea of the Lakers having a roster of quality role players around Lebron and AD. That’s not a bad strategy, but whether or not Rob Pelinka can make that happen this summer remains to be seen.

As for the Clippers, the noise around both Paul George and Ty Lue, and their contract negotiations is getting louder and louder. Neither one are going very well. We now know the Clippers aren’t willing to give George a 4 year deal, but the Sixers and probably others are as well. The question is this: Is George is really willing to give up an extra guaranteed $60 million to stay in his home town where he is comfortable? And are the Clippers willing to let George walk if push comes to shove, rather than pay him the full max? I still think one side will blink first. However, if neither side does blink, it does make me wonder if Ty Lue will even want to sign an extension. I’m sure the Lakers and Lebron would be chomping at the bit to see how this whole thing plays out, but I still can’t see the timing working out in their favor, and the Clips allowing him to go across the hall to the Lakers. Also, who are the idiots that voted Kawhi over Lebron for 2nd team all-nba? This is simply voter hate, which we’ve seen numerous instances of.

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I really don’t understand why Caitlin Clark is getting so much hate. She is a phenomenal basketball player that is must see tv. People actually watched women’s college ball, and are now watching the WNBA because of her. I don’t care if she’s white, black, straight, or whatever. None of that matters. You should enjoy watching her play for what she can do. I don’t need the political noise behind it. It’s basketball and sports people. It’s supposed to unify us, so don’t let it divide us. As for her play, sure she has struggled a little in the early going, but she will figure it out and be the start we expect her to be. The talent is there which she put on display last week against the Sparks.

To baseball where the Dodgers are struggling at the plate. They’ve lost 5 in a row, their longest losing streak since 2019, and during their last 16 games, they are hitting .189 with runners in scoring position. During that stretch they are also scoring just 3.5 runs per game, a decline from their 5.5 runs per game before that. I know many of you are going to say they need to send Chris Taylor to another planet, put Andy Pages back in the minors, or make a trade for someone more consistent than Gavin Lux. However, the reality is that this is a much larger issue that has reared it’s ugly head in October very frequently with this organization. It’s about their overall philosophy at the plate. You can’t sit back and wait for the 3-run home run, even when you have Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani, and Freddie Freeman in your lineup. In the postseason, you will face elite pitching. You have to find a way to manufacture runs when you are struggling, or else you will go home quickly in the postseason. Just put the ball in play, bunt when necessary, move the runners over, be smart but aggressive on the base paths. That’s how you manufacture runs when you are struggling. Sure the Dodgers will fix this in the regular season, and they may even find some people in their farm system that can come up for a few weeks and give them some offense. However, if the don’t focus on manufacturing runs in October, they will continue to be vulnerable to those early exits.

I’m not saying it’s going badly for the Angels, but they are threatening to have worst home record in baseball in the last 85 years. They’ve lost 19 times in 25 home games, which is the worst winning percentage in that time. The only team with a worse percentage over a full season, according to StatMuse: the St. Louis Browns, whose home winning percentage was .234 (18-59) in 1939. To make matters worse, the Yankees are coming to town this week. At this point the Angels are just selling hope from their younger players like Zach Neto, Logan O’Hoppe, Nolan Schanuel, and Reid Detmers, but none of them are giving you a whole lot to be excited about. The most promising thing his franchise has to offer is the $12 ice cream cone with fruit on them they are selling at the Big A, which is a bargain by concession stand standards.

Last week an agreement between the NCAA and all 5 of the Power Conferences was announced, which settled an anti-trust lawsuit. This paves the way for athletes to be paid for their contributions rather than just for scholarship. What it really means for the time being is that schools can now pay athletes directly outside of NIL Money. NIL will still exist for athletes, above and beyond their now institutionalized salary. There’s still a lot to figure out, including how you pay one star athlete in say football, vs another? Also, what does this mean for all the non-revenue sports? While this does seem fair for the highest performing athletes, it could be a bit problematic for smaller schools. This really sets the stage for the larger power schools to widen the gap between smaller schools, since they will be able to pay star athletes more. It’s getting more complex by the day, and there is still a lot to unfold.

Finally, the LA Kings made another uninspiring choice. They removed the interim tag from head coach Jim Hiller, made him the full-time head coach, and signed him a 3 year extension. So let me get this straight…..the Kings don’t fire Rob Blake and Luc Robitaille, they won’t buyout Pierre Luc-Dubois, and now they extend Hiller. This franchise is so completely unimaginative, and then Rob Blake sits there at a press conference and tells you they just have to get a little more uncomfortable but this group has it. Give me a break Rob. You and your entire staff needs to pull their heads out and play the young players you have and develop them. Instead, you keep putting these useless veterans in your lineup, which lack size, grit, and toughness. If the Kings want to retain their tough gritty, and defensive identity that’s fine. However, they need the goaltending, size, talent and defense to match it. Until Rob Blake and his staff get that, this will be rinse and repeat.

Monday Morning Coffee

May 20, 2024

The last week at the NBA combine has been ridiculous. I’ve never seen press conferences held for kids that are not projected to be drafted. Bronny James was the first. To his credit, he seems like a great kid and handled it very well. However, why is Lebron in such a rush for his kid to get to the pros? Everyone is telling you that he isn’t ready yet. So why not let him go back to school and develop more? Yes Lebron, we get it, you want to play with your kid in the league. However, why not give him the best chance to succeed in the Association by letting him develop more in college? If the kid gets drafted, we really aren’t that far away from Lebron and Klutch demanding that he actually gets an NBA roster spot, and even gets some playing time. Imagine that…..you will have the sports helicopter parent and their kid on the Lakers! It could happen. This is exactly why the Lakers coaching job is viewed by others as a circus. You’re viewed as nothing but a figurehead that does whatever Lebron wants you to do.

One thing I’ve gotta say about the Clippers: they don’t lack self-awareness. President of Basketball Ops Lawrence Frank said they are trying to bring back their core of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook. He does acknowledge there is skepticism about the group given their advancing age. “I understand the skepticism of, ‘Hey, this is another year where you haven’t had the group [whole],’” he said.“But I would guard against the cynicism. Just because it’s happened [four straight seasons] doesn’t mean it’s always going to happen next year.” What’s the saying? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I’m always a believer in giving a group time together to develop chemistry and continuity. However, if a group like the Clippers is aging and getting less durable year after year, then building that continuity is nearly impossible. That’s exactly what happened here. Kawhi was fine for 68 games, and then given his knee issues, he was done. Why would we be led to believe things will be any different for him moving forward? Unfortunately for the Clippers, this is a business decision and not a basketball one given that they are moving to a new arena.

Speaking of the NBA, their television deal is up for renewal, and there are tons of rumors circulating about who will get the National Broadcast rights. Industry sources are saying that there is a handshake agreement with ESPN to continue with some of the games, as well as a new agreement with Amazon Prime in place. That leaves NBC and Turner fighting over the last share of games, and NBC is reportedly in the lead. That’s extremely bitter sweet for most long-time NBA fans. If Turner doesn’t have the NBA, we no longer get Inside The NBA with Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kenny Smith. The show is honestly better than most of the games. That’s the bitter part. The sweet part? You get the super sweet John Tesh NBA on NBC music. I know what you’re thinking….would the entire cast move to another network? Well it seems as though Ernie Johnson has already told Turner he plans to stay there to continue his coverage of the NCAA and MLB simply out of loyalty. I guess Ernie has never seen Game of Thrones, because loyalty can get you killed. I think if we all got what we want, it would be NBC, TNT, Amazon, and get rid of ESPN and ABC with their left wing crap. Unfortunately, it looks like it’s either Turner or NBC who will be out, which means the death of something we all love.

To baseball, where the Dodgers took 3 out of 4 from the Cincinnati Reds over the weekend. Surprisingly, Shohei Ohtani had his first walk off winning hit in 4 years. Then again, you remember, how often could that have possibly have happened with a a terrible Angels team? Ohtani may actually be playing better than we’ve ever seen him, and the Boys in Blue have a very comfortable 7.5 game lead in the NL West. They are also solving some of their issues one at a time. Walker Buehler looked much better over the weekend in his 3rd start since returning to the mound. The Dodger pitching staff already has the best ERA in the National League, and the effective return of Buehler, and eventually Bobby Miller, Clayton Kershaw, and Dustin May has everyone salivating over their October potential. Their bullpen is also looking a bit better too with Blake Treinen back in the mix, and another lefty option Anthony Banda added to the mix. You’ve still gotta worry about the defense and situational hitting, but those problems may not get solved until closer to the trade deadline.

Meanwhile, the Angels actually won 2 out of 3 against the Rangers over the weekend, but they are still stuck in last place in the AL West. The worst part about the Halos though is that they are getting a worse and worse reputation by the day. Sam Blum, who covers the Angels for The Athletic, wrote an article last week about how the Angels have basically become a landing spot for Major Leaguers who wouldn’t be given a chance otherwise. The latest of those is outfielder Kevin Pillar, who was dumped by the AL worst Chicago White Sox. These comeback stories are nice, but the entire success of the season is dependent on the success of these players, which speaks very poorly about the ability of the organization to develop a robust minor league system. The noise about this is becoming louder and louder, and the Angels reputation is becoming worse and worse around baseball, and among their fan base.

Congratulations to Xander Schauffele on winning the PGA Championship over the weekend. I was really hoping that Scottie Scheffler would win it though, after he went through hell on Friday morning, getting arrested by a police officer after a huge misunderstanding. I can understand that police officers would be on edge after a pedestrian fatality, but they really need to make sure these officers know who the players actually are in these situations, otherwise they look foolish. Finally, a golf story that overshadowed Tiger Woods after all these years!

Finally, the NFL released their schedule last week, and the Rams have an interesting slate. They have the 12th hardest schedule in the league, so middle of the road really. They do play 6 playoff teams from last year, but 4 of those games are at home. The start of the schedule is tough because they’ll get the Lions and 49ers in 2 of their first 3. The finish isn’t exactly a piece of cake either against an improving Arizona team, and an always tough Seattle team. Their bye week is also a little on the early side in week 6, which isn’t necessarily ideal for an older Quarterback with Matt Stafford, but this should be a good football team, with a pathway to success this coming season.

Monday Morning Coffee

May 13, 2024

The Lakers coaching search is expected to ramp up this week. The hot rumor is that JJ Redick is the front runner for the job, and that the Lakers are intrigued with the idea of making him their next coach. I normally would not have a problem with this type of out-the-box thinking when hiring a coach who doesn’t have experience. The problem is the Lakers are intrigued for all the wrong reasons. Those reasons include the fact that Redick is cheap, and Lebron James likes him. That’s about it. The coaches with real experience like Mike Budenholzer, Ty Lue, and Jason Kidd are all locked up now, or are about to be locked up by their respective teams. The Lakers don’t really value that experience anyway, and probably don’t mind the fact they are off the market since coaching means little to this front office. Then there’s the issue of what the Lakers will do with the 17th pick in the draft. I know the Lakers want to package that pick in a trade for a star player, but that pick is worth a stick of gum and a pair of used Converse sneakers.

As for the Clippers, the Paul George extension talks have reportedly not been going well. The Clips have reportedly made George multiple offers at less than the max, but PG-13 has declined them. It makes perfect sense why the Clips would do this. They want to stay below the extremely punitive 2nd luxury tax apron. They were able to get Kawhi to extend for less than the max, so why shouldn’t George? Well that’s probably because George feels like he has been more reliable than Leonard from a health standpoint. If he decides to go to free agency, the Clips risk losing him for nothing to the Sixers or Magic. I still think when push comes to shove George doesn’t want to leave SoCal, he wants to make a lot of money, and he doesn’t want to deal with enormous pressure and accountability. He gets most of those things with the Clips, even if he takes a little bit less.

Elsewhere around the NBA Playoffs, Obi Toppin and TJ McConnell really turn into Shaq and Kobe against the Knicks. The Pacers went on a 34-9 run, and even Darvin Ham thought it was ridiculous the Knicks didn’t call a timeout. Karl Anthony Towns knows how to disappear like Hodini in every single playoff series he’s every played in, and it could cost the T-Wolves against the Nuggets. The Celtics have got to be the deepest and most talented team in the league and will probably take out the Cavs, but they may also be the dumbest team in the league given that they live and die by the 3. The Mavs and Thunder was looking like a really good series, but suddenly the Thunder look like SGA and a bunch of college kids from the West Coast Conference.

To baseball, where the Dodgers lost 2 out of 3 to the Padres over the weekend. The Boys in Blue gave up 6 runs in the entire series, yet they lost 2 out of 3. That’s insane, but it also goes to show you just how fired up the Padres have been getting when they play the Dodgers this year. I’m sure they will turn back into the Bad News Bears in their next game. It’s nice to see Walker Buehler back but you have to wonder what you’re watching with him so far. Is he just rusty? Or is he no longer as effective? It’s probably too early too tell, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that pitchers that have multiple Tommy John surgeries just aren’t as successful as pre-surgery. Smart move by Dave Roberts though to keep Shohei Ohtani from further injuring his back and pulling him out of the lineup. Speaking of Ohtani, when I watch how dominant of a hitter he is, I immediately think that I have no interest in seeing him as a pitcher. Especially if it prolongs his career and since the Dodgers are historically a pitching rich organization. I also think $700 million might not have been enough for him.

Then there’s the Angels, who lost 3 of 4 to the Royals. They are now in last place in the AL West, and have the 4th worst record in the Major Leagues. The most discouraging aspect of all this isn’t their record or the injury to Mike Trout. It’s the lack of player development. Reid Detmers was so promising the first month of the season. After looking like Randy Johnson, in his last 4 starts, his ERA ballooned to 8.74, with 9 walks, 27 hits, and 7 home runs. Griffin Canning and Patrick Sandoval have continued to be mediocre pitchers, and the young position players are no better. Nolan Schanuel is only hitting .221, Mickey Moniak can’t crack the Mendoza Line, and Zach Neto is only hitting .236 with a terrible OBP. If the Halos don’t move Brandon Drury, Carlos Estevez, Matt Moore, and anybody else at the trade deadline they can get value for, they simply aren’t serious about building a legitimate baseball team. I’m not sure I would think they are with Arte owning the team anyway, but without that it would certainly solidify that theory.

Monday Morning Coffee

May 6, 2024

The Lakers were eliminated by the Denver Nuggets last week, which shouldn’t surprise anybody, and neither should the firing of Darvin Ham just a few days later. The Laker front office saw what the rest of us did for months. Ham burned half the season screwing with the lineups, and it cost the team playoff positioning. Now what? Unfortunately, if the Lakers truly valued coaches, they would pick up the phone and at least try to get Greg Popovich or Steve Kerr to coach this team, and pony up the $20 million or so to get them. Instead, they will hire some coach that Lebron signs off on, will not cost them a lot, and who will be running to Dick’s Sporting Goods to figure out what equipment he needs for the job. Let’s be real, Ty Lue isn’t leaving the Clippers, especially since they know the Lakers are interested. As for Lebron, he’s not going anywhere, and nor should he. However, do we really need to sign up for a 3-year deal? Can’t we just call it one year with an option? The challenge now for this team is that the West has stars and teams that are ascending, like the Wolves and Thunder. Sure the Lakers can be a playoff team and hope things bounce their way, but unless they get a transcendent 3rd star, it’s unlikely they’ll win another championship in the Lebron era. A third star like that just isn’t out there, despite the names people are suggesting.

As for the Clippers they were also eliminated last week, this time by the Dallas Mavericks. This is everything about Kawhi Leonard. In 5 seasons with the Clips, Kawhi has only been able able to finish a season healthy in 2020, the year they blew a 3-1 to the Nuggets. He’s great when he’s healthy, but he never is when it matters most. The Clippers tried to place a greater emphasis on the regular season this year, but this is just what happens when your franchise player has a degenerative knee condition. However, the Clips have already committed to 4 more years of this. They saw two months of a healthy Kawhi, and apparently that was enough. But since they are moving to the Intuit Dome next season, they can’t go halfway with their commitment. They have to try and re-sign Paul George and James Harden. It’s going to hurt if they are over that 2nd tax apron, but they don’t have much of a choice. The question is whether or not George is going to hold it against them for trying to trade him, and if he cares more about the money he could get in Philly or Orlando, than staying at home with the Clips. My guess is that he will want to stay here for slightly less if Kawhi did. James Harden will probably stay too because he knows the strip clubs in LA are amazing.

Continuing our theme of elimination, the Kings got bounced by the Oilers for the third straight year in the playoffs. We told you this was going to happen back in October. This team needs more talent to get back to real Stanley Cup Contention. The only way they can get it is by playing their young players, and for some reason, Rob Blake, Luc Robitaille, and the million coaches they have gone through don’t want to give them that chance. The real madness though is that Rob Blake is going to be addressing the media today, which makes it seem highly unlikely he is going to be replaced as General Manager. Also madness would be not buying out Pierre Luc Dubois and his ugly contract. If they do, while letting Viktor Arvidsson and Matt Roy go, they might actually have some real money to go get a goalie and also re-sign Quinton Byfield. Of course this plan seems way too sensible, and since Luc Robitaille has a strong relationship with Dubois’s agent, he will likely be back to torment Kings fans next year.

To baseball, where the Dodgers are rolling. They swept the Braves over the weekend, and have now won 4 straight and 8 of 10 overall. That was the first series of the season where both teams were looking across the dugout from each other skeptical that their best was going to be better than their opponents. It sure looks like the Dodgers best is better than the Braves at this point. Although, I’m not sure that matters much until October, because sometimes you’re at your best and sometimes you aren’t in that small window of games. The really exciting news though is that Walker Buehler will make his return to the mound tonight, for the first time in two years. Clayton Kershaw and Bobby Miller threw off a mound as well in their return from injury. With Kershaw, I’d like to see him come back closer to August where he just gives the Dodgers three really good months of healthy pitching. They still need to figure out the bottom of their lineup, but putting Andy Pages there helps solve some of those problems for the time being. Of course when Shohei Ohtani is killing the ball like he did over the weekend, it’s easily to live with Chris Taylor in your lineup.

Meanwhile, the Angels are circling the drain, and it’s only May. They’ve lost 8 of 10 games after losing a series to the Guardians over the weekend. They’ve got the 4th worst record in baseball, and are tied for last place in the American League West. As if that’s not bad enough, Mike Trout is going to be out indefinitely with a meniscus injury he’ll need surgery for. The Halos say his season may not be over, but if it keeps going this way, why the heck would he come back and play again? The real unfortunate part of all this is that this is the 4th straight year Trout has suffered significant injuries. If the Halos tried to trade him now, they would likely get no good prospects in return, due to his massive contract another team would have to pay for. However, if they assumed most of that contract, they might actually get some decent players back. We’re talking about the best player in franchise history people! That’s how bad things are for the Angels. Why can’t this team just admit they are rebuilding and rebuild the right way?

Finally, Rams GM Les Snead was on a podcast with Rich Eisen, and he gave quite a bit of information about Aaron Donald. Snead said he expected Donald to retire, but also suggested that they would welcome him back if he decided around playoff time that he could put the Rams over the top. That would mean the Rams going to need to be pretty good without him, in order for him to want to come back for a short run. But the fact Snead mentioned all of that makes me think there’s a possibility that it could happen. In any case, I do think the Rams are still going to be pretty good next season.

Monday Morning Coffee

April 29, 2024

Let this be a lesson to everyone: NOBODY BEATS THE LAKERS 12 TIMES IN A ROW! The Lakers staved off elimination on Saturday night against the Nuggets, but let’s be real, this probably isn’t sustainable. They are coached by Darvin Ham, who can’t get out of his own way with every terrible decision he makes. The Lakers were reportedly upset with the fact Anthony Davis called out the coaching staff after game 2, saying there are moments on the floor the team has no idea what they are doing. Sorry you don’t like the fact the truth hurts. That’s the difference right now between the Lakers being a true championship team and what they are now. I have to say though, Lebron James is still amazing for being able to do what he does at nearly 40 years of age, and Anthony Davis is not only great, but now one of the more underrated players in the game. Aside from coaching, the Lakers need Rui, Austin, and D-Lo to deliver on a consistent basis, and they just haven’t in this series. I know the Lakers have had the lead for the majority of these games, but you are what the series says you are, and that’s down 3-1. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if the Lakers got blown out tonight, but here’s to hoping I’m wrong.

As for the Clippers, they narrowly avoid complete embarrassment of blowing a 30 point lead, and managed to beat the Mavs in game 4. It was like Darvin Ham was coaching them yesterday, just forking over that lead. The series is tied 2-2 but they are in a very tough spot because it’s clear they are going to have to do this without Kawhi Leonard. He just wasn’t himself in the last two games he attempted to play, and it caused Paul George and James Harden to defer to him too much and throw off their games as well. Actually, playoff Harden no longer looks like a bad thing in this series, as The Beard has actually played pretty well. George had a huge first half yesterday as well, and made a clutch 3 late in the 4th to seal it. However, it’s hard to imagine the Clippers winning the series at this point without Kawhi, given all the fire power the Mavericks have. It’s disappointing for the Clippers and their fans, but this is simply what you have to live with when you sign a player with a degenerative knee condition.

Then there’s the debacle on the ice with the LA Kings, against the Oilers. Edmonton now has a 3-1 series lead after the Kings continued all their special teams miscues last night. LA finally tightened the screws defensively and got some good goaltending from David Rittich, but they forgot they actually have to score to win. This is a series between one deeply flawed mentally weak roster with no superstars, vs a mentally weak team with two superstars. That’s why the Oilers will always get the better of this matchup, but in the long run, neither team will win the Cup this year. Kings center PL Dubois should be completely embarrassed. This guy is making $8.5 million this year and is currently on the 3rd line, while going up against 3rd line players in this series. Even with those favorable matchups, he’s had very little impact. It’s bad enough the Kings hate their young players and won’t give them a chance to make an impact in this series, but they have no chance if guys like Dubois don’t show up.

Things have been looking better for the Dodgers over the past week. They took 2 of 3 against the Blue Jays over the weekend, and 6 of their last 7 overall. Tyler Glasnow and Yoshinobu Yamamoto are looking great as starters. Things are looking up for the bottom of the order too. Andy Pages has now hijacked playing time for the completely unproductive Chris Taylor, while Gavin Lux is even showing signs of life at the plate. The jury is still out on James Outman, who is now sitting against lefties, but let’s solve one problem at at time. The Dodgers have a showdown with the D’Backs, so they can start to build a bigger lead in the NL West if they handle their business.

Arte Moreno is HIM. The Angels now have the 4th worst record in baseball, yet the man is selling out a game for “Star Wars Night”. This guys greatness as a business man will be studied for generations. On the other hand, his incompetence as a baseball owner will also be studies forever. The Halos have lost 9 of their last 10 games, and things are spiraling downward each and every day. Anthony Rendon is now on the DL with his annual injury that’s going to keep him out for months. Not that he really cares about baseball. All of a sudden Mike Trout is struggling, which makes you wonder if the injuries have caught up to him and he’s in decline, hitting just .226. The Halos had 6 guys in their lineup hitting less than .230 on Saturday, and I haven’t even talked about how bad the pitching is. Why bother? This team is becoming more irrelevant in SoCal by the day.

The NFL Draft went down over the weekend, and the Rams had a very nice roster re-load. There was so much talk about drafting a QB, trading up for a big name, or drafting an offensive skilled player. None of that happened, and instead, the Rams made very sensible moves. They drafted 10 players over 7 rounds. 4 of them were on the defensive front, headlined by 1st round pick Edge Rusher, Jared Verse from Florida State. Losing Aaron Donald is tough, but a defense line of Verse, Kobie Turner, and Byron Young is a great young core to move forward with. It was also really cool to see FSU teammates Verse and Braden Fiske reunited, and the way Sean McVay and Les Snead made that phone call to Fiske, while Verse was pulling up to Fiske’s house.

Verse and Fisk Rams

Meanwhile, the Chargers did exactly what we thought Jim Harbaugh would do. They went with Joe Alt, an elite offensive tackle from Notre Dame, with the 5th pick in the draft. I realize many of you are screaming from the mountain tops that the Bolts need wide receivers and running backs. However, Harbaugh is trying to implement an entire change of identity with this football team, and it’s going to take time. That means beefing up on both the offensive and defensive line to become a much nastier and physical team. Alt is an elite lineman who is actually going to protect an even bigger asset they have invested in: Justin Herbert. The Bolts still did get Wide Receivers Ladd McConkey, Brenden Rice, Cornelius Johnson, and running back Kimani Vidal later in the draft. However, it’s much easier to find wide receivers and running backs than elite players at other positions. Trust in Harbaugh. He knows what he’s doing.

Monday Morning Coffee

April 22, 2024

Well here we are in the 1st round of the NBA Playoffs, and the Lakers are playing the Nuggets. It only took one game, but this already feels like a bad sequel to the horror movie. The Lakers had the Nuggets on the ropes in the 1st game, up by 12, then Denver came storming back in the 3rd quarter and put the game away. There’s no way the Lakers are going to beat the Nuggets playing with that undisciplined nonsense they were in the 3rd quarter. The shot selection was so poor, and Anthony Davis didn’t even touch the ball on so many possessions. If the Lakers have any chance, D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, and Rui Hachimura are going to have to play way better than what they did on Saturday. There’s a huge psychological piece to this series though that is of utmost importance. The Nuggets have beaten the Lakers 9 straight times. If the Lakers win one game in this series it will feel like an accomplishment. If they win two games it’s a miracle, any more than that and they should have a parade. Even Austin Reaves said it’s tough to play against a team that is so disciplined, and knows exactly what they want to run every time down the floor. In other words what he’s really telling you is that it’s tough to win when you have a coach that is a total buffoon.

Meanwhile, the Clippers beat up the Mavs yesterday in Game 1 of their 1st round series. The good news for the Clips is that not only are they up 1-0, but Paul George, James Harden, and Ivica Zubac all played really well. Russell Westbrook also had some nice contributions off the bench. The bad news though is that Kawhi Leonard did not play, and the comments from the coaching staff about his injury and availability are very vague. As long as Paul George and James Harden don’t revert back to their annual playoff disasters, they might actually win this series. I expect the Mavs to fight back and for their role players to play much better. However, the Clippers showed yesterday that they do have enough talent on their roster to win this series, even with Kawhi probably moonlighting with another job during the playoffs.

To baseball, where the Dodgers finally showed up and played baseball yesterday, blowing out the Mets 10-0 to get back in the win column. It was much needed because the Boys in Blue have just 3 wins in their last 10 games. The starting pitching is just fine, but the middle relief still stinks, and their offense is already in playoff form. They’ve struck out 63 times with runners in scoring position, which is more than anybody else in baseball. They’ve also gone 2-17 with the bases loaded this season. We’ve seen this over and over again. This team just sits back and waits for the 3-run homer, rather than figures out ways to manufacture runs when they are struggling to score. I also don’t expect the likes of James Outman, Gavin Lux, and Chris Taylor to hit .300 and be all stars, but I do expect them to hit like capable major leaguers. None of them have. Hopefully Andy Pages can solve some of that, and he gave us a flash of that yesterday afternoon.

As for the Angels, tough weekend for them getting swept by the Reds, and falling to 4 games under .500. Anthony Rendon suffered a hamstring injury, and knowing him, that probably means he’ll be out until August. Mike Trout is suddenly down to hitting .244, and there’s not much other production happening consistently in the lineup. Luis Rengifo seems to be allergic to playing defense, and the pitching is as bad as it usually is, with the exception of Reid Detmers. I know many of you are going to say don’t go to Angel games so you don’t put money in Arte Moreno’s pocket. Unfortunately, that strategy didn’t work so well in Oakland, where the team is now going to be moving to Vegas.

The NFL Draft is on Thursday night and I have no idea what the Rams are going to do. I think most people feel like they desperately need an edge rusher, especially after the retirement of Aaron Donald. However, Les Snead has a tendency to make some very splashy moves. I wouldn’t be surprised if he either made a trade to move up and get somebody he really likes to help his defense, or trade the pick for an impact defensive player and use some more of their cap space. I’m anxiously awaiting to see what goes down!

The LA Kings will begin their playoff series with the Edmonton Oilers tonight for the 3rd year in a row. Similar to the Lakers vs Denver series in the NBA, the Oilers have a total psychological edge on the Kings, knowing that they’ve beaten them the last two postseason. The Kings haven’t shown me anything this season that makes me think they are good enough to meet the moment and beat the Oilers at those critical points of a series. If the Kings have any hopes of winning the series, Quinton Byfield has to look more like the player he did for the first 3/4ths of the season, and Pierre Luc-Dubois will have to start looking a lot more like the elite center man he was expected to be, rather than the 4th line scrub level he has produced at. The Kings wanted the Oilers so they can exercise their demons of the past, and they are going to get what they want. I just have my doubts the results will be any different, and that will spell doom for the front office.

The Kings' Viktor Arvidsson celebrates with Quinton Byfield after scoring the tying goal in the third period Thursday.

If you’re a USC Football fan, you probably have very mixed feelings about the spring game. Miller Moss doesn’t look all that great. He threw two interceptions, and didn’t look elite. He gave you some hope in the Holiday Bowl, but now he just looks like “a guy” holding down a scholarship that you hope can just manage games. However, the defense looks much better, which Lincoln Riley hasn’t exactly been known for. Keep in mind that there’s 12 teams that make the College Football Playoff starting next year, so perhaps the Trojans have a tad more margin for error, despite playing in the much tougher Big 10.

Finally, the UCLA Bruin Basketball team has done a very nice job of rebuilding their squad. The Bruins added Oregon State transfer Tyler Bilodeau, adding more offense to their front court. This comes after the team previously announced the signings of small forward Kobe Johnson (formerly of USC), combo guard Skyy Clark (Louisville) and power forward Eric Dailey Jr. (Oklahoma State). All four newcomers averaged double figures in scoring for their previous teams and are considered tough, physical players who should fit Mick Cronin’s preferred style of play. I have no idea what this means in terms of just how good UCLA could be next year. However, what I do know is that this team will be much older and more experienced, than the youth they had on the team last year. That’s a smart move because the experienced teams have done well in the NCAA Tournament of late. Hopefully that experience is combined with good chemistry though to get the Bruins back where they belong.

Monday Morning Coffee

April 15, 2024

I know what you’re thinking. I was thinking it too. But don’t let your mind go there. The Lakers aren’t going to tank Tuesdays play-in game against the Pelicans for the 7th seed, just so they can avoid the Denver Nuggets in the 1st round of the playoffs. It’s way too risky. They would face a one-game do-or-die game against either the Warriors or Kings at home, and both could easily defeat them and end their season. They would probably also be much more fatigued going into round 1. Look if they lose on Tuesday, it’s a small silver lining, but they need to win. The Lakers have a tremendous matchup advantage against the Pelicans, as they showed yesterday. I expect a much closer game, but the Lakers should win that game. Assuming that Darvin Ham doesn’t do anything stupid. He must have Googled how to use a timeout prior to yesterday, because I was shocked he used one early when the Pelicans cut into their lead. His rotations were a little improved, but I still don’t understand how Max Christie can’t see the floor when he’s one of the best defenders and three-point shooters on the team. I’d rather see more of him than Gabe Vincent, who’s played 3 months of good basketball in the last few years.

Meanwhile, the Clippers wrapped up the regular season by resting a lot of player in their last three games, and they’ll face the Mavericks in round 1. This time, the Clippers have to be nervous. Not only are the Mavs a much better team than before with Luke and Kyrie, but the Clips health is in serious question. Kawhi Leonard hasn’t played in three weeks due to knee inflammation, and Ty Lue sounds extremely uncertain that he will be available. This is the exact nightmare scenario the Clips thought they were going to avoid this year. James Harden hasn’t exactly been super healthy of late either, but the Clips have to hope that 5 or 6 full days of rest and no travel will help them. If Kawhi isn’t available though, I think that’s going to be too much for the Clips to overcome this time.

To baseball, where the Dodgers dropped 2 out of 3 against the Padres over the weekend. The Dodgers still have the most wins in the NL, but they are still looking for more consistency from the bottom of their lineup with Chris Taylor, Gavin Lux, and James Outman. Lux and Outman are showing sporadic signs of life, while Chris Taylor still doesn’t have a pulse yet. I’m curious to see how long the Dodgers put up with this minimal production. On the pitching front, they did lose Bobby Miller to a shoulder injury for a period of time, which fortunately does not sound serious . This of course brings up the topic of injuries to pitchers around baseball. It’s simple to me: the human arm isn’t built to throw a baseball at over 90 miles per hour, and with the type of spin the pitchers are throwing with. In the 70’s and 80’s arm injuries were not as common in baseball, and we conditioned pitchers to throw well over 100 pitches. Today, they are told to throw as hard as you can for as long as you can, and then team will use tons of relievers to back them up. As long as that philosophy continues, pitchers will always get hurt.

After the details of the investigation around Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter and his gambling scandal were released last week, maybe now we can finally put this story to rest. For weeks, all we did was hear from those Junior FBI Agent Keyboard Conspiracy Theorists on Twitter, suggesting Ohtani was doing the gambling himself. Suddenly, those people don’t really have much to say anymore. The FBI has basically exonerated Ohtani after their investigation, and concluded that he is a victim of theft in this situation. Since we always seem to think the court of public opinion matters in these situations, Ohtani’s history should give you no reason to question his character, or to think he’s lying. It certainly didn’t seem to impact Ohtani on the field, since he’s been playing great baseball. However, I’m sure it’s a relief for him to have it behind him.

As for the Angels, they dropped 2 of 3 to the Red Sox over the weekend, and are now a game under .500 in the early going. The good news is that nobody in the AL West is tearing it up, and only the Rangers are a 1/2 game in front of them for 1st place. There are in fact a few positive things that are happening. They play good defense. Reid Detmers is emerging as a reliable starting pitcher. Mike Trout is doing Mike Trout things, and Taylor Ward and Logan O’Hoppe look good as well. The rest of their lineup however, has a lot of inconsistencies, and they don’t have a whole lot of pitching depth. It’s early and the Halos have a history of giving people high hopes in the month of April. However, if the Halos can find a couple of more reliable players, they might find a way to sneak into a wild card spot. Of course that means the ROI has to be there for Arte Moreno, who probably won’t see the value though, considering he didn’t see the value in Blake Snell.

Angels reliever José Suarez reacts after giving up a two-run home run to Boston's Masataka Yoshida at Fenway Park.

As many of you are aware, OJ Simpson passed away last week after battling cancer. I realize that the initial reaction of a lot of people was somewhat of a celebratory. However, the idea of thinking that way just seems weird to me. Yes, it totally obvious that OJ got away with murder. However, to say “he got what he deserved” or “I hope it was painful”, just feels like we’re turning ourselves into animals like OJ himself, if we take that approach. He was clearly ostracized from society after the murder trial, and while that’s not true justice for what happened to Nicole and Ron, it’s the punishment he got.

Congratulations to Scottie Scheffler on winning the Masters for the second time in his career! He was dominant from start to finish, and showed why he is the number one golfer in the world. It was also really good to see Tiger Woods finish the full round of 72 holes in a major, after coming off major ankle surgery. Just making the cut for Tiger is an accomplishment in itself, considering the guy can probably barely practice at this point. We definitely saw some flashes of brilliance from him the first two days, and then he struggled as the weekend came. Nevertheless, hopefully we can see him play in the PGA Championship, the US Open, and the Open Championship.

Scheffler toasts another triumph at Augusta National.

Finally, the LA Kings clinched a playoff spot last week with a win over the Flames. However, now comes the part we’ve all been waiting for. Who will they play in the playoffs? Who are we kidding though? They are going to play the Oilers for the 3rd year in a row. They will probably also be eliminated for the 3rd year in a row by them, given their inconsistencies. This feels like the 1980’s when the Oilers absolutely owned the Kings in the playoffs before the Kings traded for Wayne Gretzky. Here’s to hoping I’m wrong, but it’s hard to imagine them pulling this off.

Monday Morning Coffee

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April 8, 2024

I think maybe it’s time for Anthony Davis to wear some googles. If he doesn’t, the next time he gets wacked in the eye, he’s going to look like The Terminator. The Lakers were getting healthy and rolling, and then suffered a big loss last night against the Wolves. That was largely due to the fact that Lebron was out with the flu and Anthony Davis got poked in the eye again and had to leave the game. The Lakers could conceivably still get the 6th seed, but moving up there will be much tougher after last nights loss. You can also kiss those hopes goodbye if Anthony Davis is missing any games with that eye injury. Sure they’ve given us reason for optimism the last two months, but as I said before, poor coaching has put this team is an unfortunate, no margin for error situation. Also unfortunate is this idea that Bronny James could enter the NBA Draft this summer. Lebron, please don’t ruin your sons career just because you want to play with him. You know damn well that Bronny has no business being on an NBA Basketball roster right now. Could it happen one day? Sure, but why damage his development by trying to force him into the league, just so you can play with him? Hopefully Bronny stays in college to play ball for another year, which is where he belongs right now.

The Clippers found the win column yesterday with a dramatic comeback win against the Cavaliers. However, the Clips should be getting very nervous right now about their health. All of a sudden, Kawhi Leonard has missed 4 straight games with a sore knee, and as usual this time of year, there’s complete mystery about when he could be available next. For a guy who told everyone he was determined to play a ton, which also got him an extension recently, this is not promising at all. Maybe it’s nothing and he’ll be back this week. However, Ty Lue said he was concerned, but hopeful he could return on Thursday. Yet, here we are a week later with no Kawhi. To make matters worse, James Harden is banged up too. There has to be some part of the Clippers that are saying “This isn’t really happening again is it?” I guess we’ll find out shortly if it really is.

That was a tough weekend for the Dodgers in Chicago. They dropped two of three to the Cubs. Bobby Miller had the worst birthday of his life on Friday, and the Dodgers defense let them down yesterday. The infield can’t field in good conditions, so you expect them to defend capably in bad conditions? Gavin Stone might be better than last year, but he’s still not quite ready for prime time. The good news is that Yoshinobu Yamamoto continued to look like an ace on Saturday, and Shohei Ohtani is now on fire at the plate. I’m curious to see how long the Dodgers roll with the James Outman, Gavin Lux, and Chris Taylor at the bottom of their lineup. The three of them collectively couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat right now. Outman seems very replaceable with another young prospect like Andy Pages in the organization. However, Lux and Taylor are expected to perform much better. and moving off them won’t be easy without a trade, or eating money.

Then there’s the Angels who dropped 2 of 3 to the Red Sox at the Big A over the weekend. Chase Silseth is complete garbage, and should only be on a Big League mound if he’s throwing the All-Star home run derby at this point. Griffin Canning is also not exactly developing into John Lackey for this franchise. The Halos are 4-3, but the pitching is trash, and their lineup is filled with scrubs hitting .150 or less, including Anthony Rendon and Nolan Schanuel. Who gives a damn about your on-base streak that got snapped when you can’t even hit .100 at the plate? Here come the Rays in to town for a 3-game set.

Although my bracket has been obliterated, I’m really lookin forward to seeing Purdue and UCONN tonight in the NCAA Championship game. Zach Edey vs Donovan Clingan is going to be like watching two Titans go at it. Meanwhile, congratulations to Caitlin Clark on a fantastic NCAA career. Despite South Carolina winning the NCAA Championship, people tuned in to see Clark play. I know everyone wants to point out what’s wrong with the men’s game with NIL and the transfer portal, but the women’s tournament had better ratings than tons of sports, so let’s not focus on what’s wrong with those sports but rather how great the women’s game is becoming. Also, smooth move by John Calipari coming to a deal with Arkansas on the day of the title game, so more people will be talking about that than tonight’s game.

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark pumps both fists during an NCAA tournament game against West Virginia

Finally, there’s now rumors that the Rams could trade up into the top 10 of this years draft. Looking at the Top 10, there’s two players that fit the bill: either Notre Dame offensive lineman Joe Alt, or Alabama Outside Linebacker Dallas Turner. Both would be fascinating selections. Turner seems like the most needed target, but he isn’t necessarily a franchise changer. The problem is after the 1st round, there’s a huge drop off in talent at that position. Since the Rams aren’t shy about making big moves and since they just lost Aaron Donald to retirement, sooner or later you would expect them to make a splashy move on defense. We’ll see when that comes though.

Monday Morning Coffee

April 1, 2024

The Dodgers took 3 of 4 with Cardinals to open their home schedule this weekend. That’s pretty good, but the really good news is their starting pitching. Yoshinobu Yamamoto had a really nice bounce back outing on Saturday. I don’t really know if he’s going to be elite yet, but he’s showing signs of a guy who is capable of making adjustments, and has a very high ceiling at only 25 years old. That’s a relief given the investment they made in him. Tyler Glasnow has looked great so far in his first two starts, and Bobby Miller was excellent as well. You put a healthy and effective Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw in this rotation later in the year, and this is going to be a very tough rotation come October. However, this is not a flawless team. Their infield defense outside of Freddy Freeman is questionable at every position. Not having Mookie Betts in their outfield severely weakens their defense there. They are also lacking some lefty options in their bullpen middle relief as well, which was exposed Saturday night. Nevertheless, there’s time to sort these problems out one at a time. As for the Shohei betting scandal, let it die until the MLB finishes their investigation. But in the meantime, I’d like to know who he’s taking in the Final Four next week.

Then there’s the Angels, who lost 2 out of 3 to the Orioles over the weekend. This has an extremely predictable feel to it. Mike Trout looks like the only capable dude in the lineup. Anthony Rendon can’t hit his way out of a paper bag, and the starting pitchers look like they should be serving In-N-Out Burgers instead of starting an MLB game. We’ve always known the pitching wasn’t good, but everyone wrongly assumes that the Halos will score runs. That would be assuming that Zach Neto, Nolan Schanuel, and Logan O’Hoppe all develop into productive Major Leaguers. However, betting on player development with the Halos is like betting on the lottery. There’s very little reason for optimism after just three games.

To the NBA, where the Lakers dominated the Nets yesterday. Lebron was making three-pointers like he was Larry Bird, and poured in a career-high 40 points and the Lake Show has now won 6 of 7. They are feverishly trying to catch the Kings or Suns for the 7th or 8th seed to make their play-in tournament path slightly easier. With 8 games left and Darvin “hands in his pockets” Ham still coaching them, I’m skeptical they can get there. Nice to see Gabe Vincent back in the lineup yesterday though. Not sure he is going to contribute much, but he can play defense when he’s in shape. As long he doesn’t bang his knee on another coffee table.

As for the Clippers they’ve righted the ship for the time being by beating up on bad teams. The latest was Charlotte yesterday. However, if you look at the standings, here come the Mavs, who are now tied for the 5th seed with the Pelicans. They are also 2 games back of the Clips for 4th. Part III of Clippers vs Mavs in a playoff series would be compelling, but given how the Clips are playing, might not be a series you would feel so great about if you’re a Clippers fan. There’s also continuous rumors now about whether or not Paul George will work out an extension with the Clippers. It’s taking an awful long time, and the Philadelphia 76ers are practically screaming from the mountain top that they are ready to pounce, like a dude courting a girl who has had a long-term boyfriend. However, I still can’t imagine PG-13 leaving LA, where he is from, for Philadelphia. I think this is a leverage play.

How is March Madness going for you? NC State, Alabama, UCONN, and Purdue. I’m sure that’s how we all predicted it right? UCONN and Purdue would be a great final, and NC State and Alabama are obviously massive surprises. However, I’m sure everyone is more delighted to see Duke lose to anybody than they would be to see ISIS lose any war. Zach Edey is a complete beast and looks like he’s just playing volleyball out there and not basketball. I’d love to see him go up again UCONN Center Donovan Clingan.

Finally, the LA Kings have 9 games left. They’ve lost their last two critical road games against division rivals, and they are hanging on to dear life to the last playoff spot. However, I for the life of me cannot figure out why this team absolutely hates young players. You cannot possibly tell me that this team wouldn’t be better off and with a higher ceiling with Brandt Clarke, Arthur Kaliev, and Alex Turcotte in the lineup every night instead of Andreas England, Alex Laferriere, and Trevor Lewis. This is the reason why the Kings can’t get any closer to Stanley Cup contention. It’s because their franchise is being run by foolish coaches and a foolish front office. Unless they somehow get Vancouver in the 1st round of the playoffs, they’ve got no shot of advancing in the playoffs, and that’s if they are lucky enough to get there.

CALGARY, ALBERTA - MARCH 30: Jonathan Huberdeau #10 of the Calgary Flames skates.

Monday Morning Coffee

March 25, 2024

Ok let’s get into this Shohei Ohtani gambling mess. You have to admit that the story is suspicious. For his translator, Ippei Mizuhara, to change his story to ESPN by saying he did have knowledge he was gambling, and then he didn’t have knowledge he was gambling is very questionable. Hopefully this story aligns with what Ohtani plans to say to the media today, when he is scheduled to address this subject. However, in my opinion, if Ohtani bet on something other than baseball and gets in trouble for it, I will give the guy a hug. Who cares if he decided to bet on some EPL soccer game last year? And who cares if he paid some bookie in California, where our state is run by idiots that couldn’t run a hot dog stand, and have yet to legalize gambling. Ultimately, I can’t imagine that Ohtani will get suspended, unless the FBI finds something highly illegal, since he’s basically a Golden Goose for the League. Meanwhile, don’t let all this distract you from the fact that Yoshinobu Yamamoto was complete garbage in his first game, and after a rough spring. Since he’s supposed to be their ace who is signed for the next 12 years, I’d say they should be concerned. Hopefully the guy can find his game immediately, otherwise he’s basically the Japanese version of Lance Lynn.

As for the Angels, I’m sure Arte Moreno wants to see Ohtani go down with a hard punishment from the gambling controversy. However, I’m sure Angels fans want to see that as well as Arte get punished for not signing Blake Snell, who signed with the Giants. Snell got a 2 year deal for $66 million, with a player option on year 2. The Angels were $37 million under the competitive balance tax and they desperately need pitching. They claim they want to win. Yet Arte is being stingy. Even more disappointing though is someone like Michael Lorenzen, a useful starting pitcher, signed for $4.5 million with the Rangers. The Halos couldn’t have done that either? I realize that Perry Minasian is extremely handcuffed by Arte, but if he thought they only had $30 million to spend, why would he spend it all on relievers? Still , Arte is the problem, and until that changes, it’s hard to see things getting any better for this franchise.

How is your March Madness Bracket going? I’m sure you’re probably losing in your office pool to the girl that picked winners by who had the cutest mascot, your mom, and some dude that made 12 different brackets. I’m sure John Calipari is going to punish all of his players by taking away their cell phones and BMW’s after they lost in the first round. If there’s one thing we’ve learned it’s that the one and done doesn’t work anymore if you want to win in the NCAA Tournament. You need good players that have played together for a long time. That’s why there’s actually hope for these mid major programs all of a sudden. Enjoy the ride and try not to take your brackets too seriously!

The Lakers took down the Pacers last night for their 3rd straight win. The good news for the LA is that they are now 7 games over .500 and putting further distance between themselves and the Warriors for 9th place. With that being said, they probably won’t catch the Mavs or Kings for 7th or 8th place. That’s a problem because they really need to stay on the opposite side of the bracket as the Nuggets, Kings, and Clippers. Why the Clippers? Because the Clippers matchup very well with the Nuggets, and actually have a chance to beat them when they are on their game. The Nuggets are currently in 1st place in the West, so that doesn’t help the Lakers chances of that scenario playing out, as it stands now.

As for the Clippers, there’s some cause for concern. They’ve lost 5 of 8 games and they haven’t beaten a team with a winning record in the last 3 weeks. Some of that includes game without Kawhi and PG13, but the concern is how they are losing games. In fact, when Paul George says “I don’t think we have an identity”, at this stage of the season, that’s problematic. I’m not sure it matters at this point who the Clippers play in the playoffs for their sake, but they need to start regaining some momentum quickly, or what was once a promising season will be lost.

I think when Aaron Donald retired about a week ago, we all kind of thought there was a chance he might return at some point. When I listened to him address the media for the first time a couple of days ago, I now believe there is no chance he is coming back. Donald said he simply doesn’t have the desire to do the work anymore that it requires to be an NFL player, let alone one as great as he is. I think it’s hard for most normal people to understand this when you are in your early 30’s, but the reality is being a professional athlete means you are in the top 1% or even less of what you do. It takes a tremendous amount of effort and preparation to be at that level year in and year out, and when you don’t want to put the work in anymore, it’s easy to see how one can get burnt out. At least the Rams should be able to look at this with some closure, and be able to move on from it and make plans.