Monday Morning Coffee

February 26, 2024

What a terrible game by the Lakers against the Suns yesterday afternoon. This team is just so unbelievably inconsistent I don’t even know anymore, and I can’t understand why the never play with any desperation or urgency. Lebron was absolutely right. On any given night they can beat anybody, and on any given night they can get their butts kicked. It would certainly help if they got their better defenders like Jarrod Vanderbilt, Cam Reddish, and Gabe Vincent back, but the harsh reality is Darvin Harm threw away 3/4ths of this season screwing around with lineups instead of building on the chemistry they had last season. He’s still finding a way to screw up the lineups by playing Taurean Prince more minutes than Rui Hachimura. Now, the problem is even if the Lakers go on the type of run they did last season, they still probably won’t get into the top 6 in the Western Conference. Heck, they have the 6th toughest schedule remaining in the NBA, to they will be lucky if they can just get to the 7th or 8th seed. Just to put this in perspective, the Sacramento Kings are on the same pace as last year for total wins, where they finished 3rd in the West. Right now, on that pace puts them in the play-in tournament. Yesterday’s loss definitely won’t help the Lakers cause. Now Lebron is reportedly looking for a 3-year extension after this year, at max money, taking him to 42 years old. Do both sides really want to sign up for this? I guess that’s more so a question for the Lakers, because most of us would sign up for anything for $180 million.

The Clippers might have a problem. Although they were rolling for about 40 games, now they seem to be having problems beating some of the top teams in the West. They got smoked by the T-Wolves and the Thunder, and heading into Sunday were tied for 3rd with the Denver Nuggets, and 2 games out of 1st in the West. Where the Clips need to be concerned is the fact that size and length bothers them a great deal, and their defense seems to be very poor against these elite teams. Whether or not Ty Lue can make the proper adjustments to offset some of these weaknesses remains to be seen, but that’s the only choice they have since we are past the trade deadline.

Spring training is underway in Major League Baseball! I certainly don’t like to draw any conclusions based on the play of a number of guys that will be delivering my Door Dash next week. However, it is exciting to see the Dodgers back in action, and what the potential of the lineup could look like. It should also be noted that they scored more runs in their first spring training game than the last two postseasons combined. That probably speaks more to their postseason ineptitude than anything else. More importantly though, Kike Hernandez is back in Dodger Blue! Who knew their was a Kike Hernandez sweepstakes though? Who does this guy think he is, Lebron James? I’m sure all the ladies in LA will be thrilled though that they get to see Kike in tight pants. I’m also thrilled to see Matt Kemp back with the organization in an Advisory Role. Welcome back home Matty! Looking forward to seeing the spring debut’s of Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto later this week!

As for the Angels, there are multiple sources indicating that the Angels are in good position to land either Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery. I will believe this when I see it though. Other sources inside the Angels have apparently been debating this because they feel like the cost of a single one of those players might not make them competitive. If that’s true, then that’s just a complete loser mentality. Heck if you think you aren’t that competitive to begin with, then why not just blow it up and rebuild your franchise the proper way? Typical Arte Moreno mentality, which makes me think if they do come away with one of those pitchers, it will just be because of public pressure. Perry Minasian and Ron Washington also said they they felt they had enough depth at catcher to release Francisco Meiji, who also had a bad attitude and work ethic. If only they would send Anthony Rendon home for his piss poor attitude. I guess the $38 million they owe him for the next 3 seasons prevents that.

To the NFL, where the offseason is upon us. The Rams have over $50 million in cap space to play with, and a 1st round pick for the first time in ages. That means after a promising season, they have a chance to further improve their team. The first thing they need to do is continue to invest in their offensive line, so they can protect Matthew Stafford. They can do this by re-signing Kevin Dotson, and adding another interior lineman. They also need to add an edge rusher as well, which is a position you can never have enough depth at, as well as get some help at cornerback. They should also be considering finding Matt Stafford’s successor. That’s where the question becomes whether or not they want to use their 1st round pick on the likes of JJ McCarthy or Bo Nix. Especially since next year’s draft is not expected to have a lot of great QBs. This could be their chance to invest in a capable successor. However, knowing Les Snead, he probably has his eye on some stud to trade for with his 1st round pick and armed with tons of cap space.

Then there’s also the Chargers, who are working through their own salary cap problems. They are $45 million over the salary cap, and the biggest question is around what they do with Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack, Keenan Allen, and Mike Williams. Of course Bosa would generate a great deal of trade value, and Mack is coming off a great season, but the solution here is obvious. Just by cutting the injury prone Mike Williams and keeping the rest of the group, they would put themselves $35 million below the salary cap. Then of course they’ll have to decide if they want to invest in Austin Ekeler for another year. Ultimately though, if the Bolts are going to have a successful year, they will need to hit on a lot of their 2024 draft picks, and considering they have all 7 of them, they are in good position to do so.

UCLA’s at-large tournament hopes are officially cooked. After losing to USC at home over the weekend, the Bruins will only be able to make the Tourney this year if they win the PAC-12 Tournament. Plus at this point, their odds of winning the Power Ball seam a lot more likely given how they are playing. Mick Cronin showed how great of a leader he is by taking responsibility and accountability for the loss against USC, saying they had a terrible week of practice and he didn’t prepare them. However, the team simply cannot shoot, and guys like Adem Bona cannot take themselves out of the game with foul travel. All of that is too problematic for Cronin’s leadership to overcome. Meanwhile, Andy Enfield is probably asking to get fired as USC head coach. The Trojans have had an enormously talented roster, but despite the win on Saturday, are one of the worst teams in the PAC-12. I’m not sure USC cares enough though about basketball to make that change.

Finally, court storming became a very hot topic over the weekend after Duke was upset by Wake Forest, and Duke Forward Kyle Filipowski was injured when fans rushed the court. Although I love the fact that court storming happens, and it’s an amazingly cool moment, I can see why it is totally dangerous and should be banned. Are there ways to make it safer? Probably, but in reality, as cool as it is, fans do not belong on the court or field, especially wreckless teenage college students. I am amazed though at the number of people defending it, and trying to find ways to keep it alive in a safe way, even on social media. It’s almost like if it weren’t a Duke player that were injured, more people would want the court storming banned. Why am I not surprised? In any case, we’ll see if anybody can actually ban this, considering the NCAA is completely spineless and powerless in this day and age.


Monday Morning Coffee

February 19, 2024

Happy Presidents Day! That was easily the worst NBA All-Star Weekend of my life time. Every event progressively got worse and worse, with the peak of embarrassment coming last night in the main event. It really just underscores the fact that this generation of players is soft. They claim they don’t want to get hurt. Ok, but you put more effort into training in the summer, but aren’t worried about getting hurt there, so why is this any different? Everybody wants to be an All-Star, but nobody wants to actually own the responsibility of being an All-Star, which should include showcasing the stars of the league in spectacular fashion. That’s how it used to be. There are fans paying thousands of dollars in tickets on the secondary market to watch this crap. Yet the players are just disrespecting them by not putting any effort. The dunk contest on Saturday night was a joke without any big names. At least Jaylen Brown was a legit name that was man enough to do it, even if his performance wasn’t great. Everyone competes in the 3-point contest without fear of getting hurt, so why should the rest of the weekend be any different? Even the Jennifer Hudson halftime show was underwhelming after seeing Usher a week ago during the Super Bowl. On the bright side, that’s probably the most defense a Doc Rivers team has played in a while. Nevertheless, Adam Silver better fix this fast or else the All-Star weekend just needs to end or go the way of the Pro Bowl.

One of the most interesting developments from All-Star Weekend was Lebron James saying that he hopes to finish his career with the Lakers. For all the talk about teams like the Warriors calling and inquiring about trading for Lebron, it was all meaningless. I love Rob Pelinka asking Daryl Morey if Joel Embiid was available, when he called to ask about Lebron. I’m sorry Rob, I owe you an apology, as I wasn’t familiar with your game. You may or may not like the fact Lebron seems more likely to stay a Laker, depending on how you feel about Lebron, but I think it’s a good decision for both sides. Sure you can criticize the Lakers for how they do things. However, you can tell that Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka are very superstar player friendly, and know how to develop good working relationships with the likes of a Rich Paul. By keeping Lebron in purple and gold, it speaks volumes to the reputation of the franchise in getting superstar players to want to buy in and come to the Lakers. I’m not sure if the the Lakers are a championship team, but they are still a good team with Lebron, as long as Darvin Ham isn’t doing stupid things with the lineup. The West is also extremely wide open, even though Denver should be considered the favorite. It sure would help even more to get the likes Jared Vanderbilt, Gabe Vincent, and Cam Reddish back in the lineup to shore up the teams defense.

Meanwhile, the Clippers are 2 games out of 1st place in the West at the All-Star break, and still looking like an excellent team. They have won 7 of their last 10 games, and their stars are healthy and playing at a high level, which is what they’ve always needed to succeed. With that being said, the loss to the Timberwolves last week provided some matchup concerns as we progresses toward the postseason. Specifically, do the Clips have enough size and physicality to win a 7-game series against bigger teams like the Wolves and Nuggets? It almost sounds weird in this era of NBA ball, but size and length in the paint does neutralize a lot of advantages on the perimeter. That can be a concern for a Clipper team who’s strength is on the perimeter and the wing in particular.

In College Hoops, that was a devastating loss by UCLA last night. They looked like they were on their way to a victory against Utah, and then Mick Cronin made a very regretful mistake: he called timeout after a clutch jumper by Dylan Andrews in the final seconds. That gave Utah the time to setup a play, which would eventually beat the Bruins at the buzzer. However, the game wasn’t really lost on that, and it was actually lost when Sebastian Mack found a way to get ejected earlier in the game. Ultimately, that means UCLA will have to win every regular season game from here on out, or win the PAC-12 Tournament. Both of which seem like an impossible task, after the hole they have put themselves in. I thought maybe this team might be able to pull it off and squeeze into the tournament, but their run was too little too late. It’s a shame because to Cronin’s credit, the team really was improving and getting better in close games. Still, the overall talent on this team has to be re-stocked to where it was the last few years. I’m confident that it will give their track record.

UCLA guard Will McClendon reacts after Utah center Branden Carlson scores with less than a second remaining.

Baseball Spring Training is upon us! The Dodgers will get the exhibition schedule underway later this week in Arizona. I know everybody wants to talk about Shohei Ohtani, and I completely understand why the coverage is all about him. However, what I really want to know is how nasty Yoshinobu Yammamoto is going to be. Reports are that his stuff has been absolutely filthy, and there is devastating movement on his pitches. What has me a bit concerned is that the Dodgers don’t plan on using a 6-man rotation this season, according to Andrew Friedman. This is a little surprising to me given how they’ve over-relied on their bullpen the last few years. There’s also the fact that Yammamoto will likely have to throw more innings this year than he’s ever thrown in Japan, Walker Buehler is coming back slow from Tommy John Surgery, and Tyler Glasnow has injury history. Even with the injuries to Clayton Kershaw and Dustin May, the Dodgers have enough manpower to go with a 6-man rotation from the get-go. However, if Andrew Friedman’s computer says no, then I guess we are all wrong.

As for the Angels, Arte Moreno created even more uneasiness last week with his comments to the media. Moreno basically said he has no plans to spend more money to improve the team, no plans to improve their spring training facility, and no plans to negotiate with the city of Anaheim to improve their stadium situation. All this, and he mentioned he plans to continue to own the team. When I first read this I thought it was an article from The Onion. I’m sure that’s what every fan wants to hear. If the Angels aren’t careful, they are going to quickly turn into the Oakland Athletics, but potentially even worse without the farm system they have. At least Mike Trout came out this morning and said that he doesn’t currently have plans to ask for a trade, but by the sound of it, it’s clearly something he has considered and might consider in the future. Leave it to Anthony Rendon though to reiterate that he’s basically just showing up for a paycheck, and that baseball isn’t really that important to him. This guy is probably going to ask if he’s earned enough PTO to take the next month off. Should be a great season in Anaheim. This team will be lucky to win 70 games.

Finally, the LA Kings righted the ship a bit last week, winning 3 straight games on the road, and a couple of in very dramatic fashion. With just 30 games left in the season, the Kings were on the verge of slipping out of a playoff spot before this run, which took firing their head coach, Todd McClellan. Of course it’s not the least bit surprising that promising young defenseman Brandt Clark entered the lineup and made an immediate impact, including scoring the game-winning goal on Saturday. Maybe if the Kings coaching staff and front office would come to their senses and start to play another promising young player, Arthur Kaliev, they might be even better.

Monday Morning Coffee

February 12, 2024

Congratulations to the Kansas City Chiefs on winning their 2nd straight Super Bowl title, and 3rd in the last 5 years. The story is going to be how great Patrick Mahomes is (even though he sounds like Kermit The Frog), as well as how great Andy Reid and Travis Kelce are. However, it was all about the Chiefs defense this season, which got them through a very up and down season, and put them in position yesterday to to win the game in dramatic fashion in OT. I know we always like to kill the opposing team when they lose, and criticize them for all the mistakes they made, but the 49ers played a phenomenal game, and Kyle Shanahan is a great coach. I love how Mecole Hardman caught the game winning pass in the Super Bowl, and got about a 10 second interview on the podium. I guess that’s what happens when you have Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Taylor Swift on your team. Also, Taylor knows how to slam a beer better than most college frat guys.

As for the broadcast itself, in general, Super Bowl Commercials used to be much better than they are today. Everything is so much more conservative in nature, because everyone is so easily offended. With that being said, I thought the Dunkin Donuts Commercial was funny, because Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were very much themselves, especially with all the Boston-isms. I personally was a fan of the Christopher Walken BMW Commercial, mostly because I love a good Walken Impression. Other than that, the commercials were just ok. Usher’s halftime show was on point though. The guy has dance moves, and who knows how he does them in roller skates. I like how everyone thought Taylor Swift was going to just show up and perform, as if the Super Bowl halftime show is like some karaoke bar where you can just grab the mic and start performing.

To the NBA, where the Lakers stood pat at the NBA trade deadline last week. While I’m sure some of you may be dissatisfied, I can’t blame Rob Pelinka for taking that approach. There was no player available at this trade deadline that was going to move the needle for the Lakers and suddenly make them Championship favorites. At best, there were minor improvements that would have cost them far more than they were worth. On top of that, the Lakers best shot to improve this year is getting healthy, and playing more consistent lineups. Spencer Dinwiddie was arguably the best player available, and the Lakers got him for free. That’s how few impact players there really were. I realize this completely goes against most people’s strategy to just microwave a championship, but look around the NBA. The teams that are at the top of the West – Minnesota, OKC, the Clippers, and Denver – are all teams that have kept their cores together for a while. Let’s hope that in the last 30 games or so the Lakers can find that chemistry they did last year and build on it. No more screwing around with the lineups Darvin Ham!

I will never get tired of reminiscing about Kobe Bryant and how he made us all feel. Last week was another reminder of that with the statue of him that was unveiled in front of Crypto.com Arena. The fact that there are going to be three statues of him though is really unbelievable. It also serves as a reminder of just how loved this man is worldwide, especially in Southern California. I’m just astonished though that Vanessa Bryant has the strength to go through this whole ceremony two more times after all she’s been through. Then again, even more so than us, she and her family can never get tired of celebrating Kobe.

The Clippers are still rolling and are vying for 1st place in the West. However, one thing nobody is talking about is Kawhi Leonard as a potential MVP candidate. That’s mostly because he plays for the Clippers, which doesn’t even get you a decent table at an LA restaurant these days. However, over his last 31 games, he is averaging 26 ppg while shooting 56.7% from the field and 50.6% from three. There may not be a player who has been that efficient over that kind of stretch. The Clippers may actually be the only team right now that has the confidence that they could beat the defending champion Nuggets in a 7-game series.

To baseball where the Dodgers re-signing Clayton Kershaw last week was very exciting news! I realize that some of you will roll your eyes at the thought of this given some of his playoff woes. However, for those of you that only pay attention to baseball during the playoffs, let me remind you that Kershaw is still a very good pitcher when healthy. He was 13-5 with a 2.46 ERA, in a season where his healthy was spotty. He will be the Dodgers #3 or even #4 starter this year once healthy, which is a pretty nice luxury to have. He also won’t have to pitch a full season, which could make him that much more effective, and the Dodgers did need a left-handed starter in their rotation. There’s also some sentimental aspects of this. Kershaw really should retire a Dodger, he can’t go out like he did in his last playoff start, and he’s only 56 strikeouts away from 3,000 in his career. All of that deserves another go-around with the Dodgers. Now that that’s taken care of, why not bring back Kenley Jensen? He can still pitch and probably wouldn’t cost a whole lot either.

There is actually breaking news this morning here on Jock Talk LA, which is that DeShaun Foster is the new UCLA Head Football Coach. Before I get to DeShaun, let’s talk about Chip Kelly. The way this dude left is a complete disgrace. We all knew he didn’t care about UCLA Football, hated recruiting, and wasn’t interested in building relationships with alums. Still, Martin Jarmond and Casey Wasserman publicly stood up for him, suggesting our accusations were ridiculous. Well now that Kelly left the job for a demotion as Ohio State offensive coordinator, who looks foolish now? Those guys should be completely embarrassed today. It also goes to show you that college coaches are getting tired of having to recruit kids just to retain their own players and keep them from the transfer portal. Heck, the Boston College head coach left for an NFL Coordinator position with the Packers! The landscape is changing big time. Sure a name like Peter Caroll would have been awesome, but I don’t think he’s coming back to college football with the recruiting so much different now. With that being said, UCLA was given a gift by Kelly leaving. I don’t know if DeShaun Foster will be the long-term answer as head coach. However, I can guarantee you that Foster will care a heck of a lot more than Kelly, the players will like him, and he will make an effort to connect with the alumni. It won’t be an easy transition to the Big 10, but that was to be expected, whoever the head coach was.

Monday Morning Coffee

February 5, 2024

Let’s start with the obvious. The Lakers aren’t going to trade Lebron James, and I didn’t need Rich Paul to tell me that. The Lakers are built with Lebron and AD as their cornerstones, and despite the ups and downs, there’s no reason to move away from that right now. For those of you that want to rebuild, let me remind you of what rebuilding looked like for 10 years before Lebron showed up. Bill Plaschke, take a hike with your trade ideas! As for Thursday’s trade deadline, there is no big name player available that is going to change the Lakers fortunes. With the loss of Jarred Vanderbilt, the Lakers really need a point-of-attack defender like Dennis Schroeder, Tyus Jones, or Malcolm Brogden. Schroeder and Jones shouldn’t cost a whole lot, and maybe could even be had for some 2nd round picks. Too bad Gabe Vincent is about as useful as a door knob this season. I still have no idea how good this team can be, but they sure seem to show up against good teams. Just not the bad ones. Darvin Ham better stop screwing around with the lineups though with about 30 games left. They need to go about 18-13 to stay out of the play-in tournament. As for if Lebron is leaving in the off-season, this is one of those rare times I truly believe he has no idea what he’s going to do. If he wants to make max money, play with Bronny, be on a contender, and play in a city he finds desirable to live in, it will be hard to achieve all 4. He’ll have to figure out what he wants to prioritize, which is why he has that player option.

Meanwhile, the Clippers are continuing to roll, winners of 8 of their last 10 games, and trying to chase down the Wolves and Thunder for 1st place in the West. I doubt the Clips will do anything at the deadline. They already swung their big move of the season with the trade for James Harden, which seems to be working out for them right now. Congratulations to Russell Westbrook for hitting 25,000 career points. He’s certainly bought into his role on this team, which is a far more reduced role at this point in his career than he’s had on past teams, but that makes it better for everyone involved. Would have been funny if the stars aligned and Ty Lue was facing Doc Rivers in the All-Star Game. Even Doc thought it was ridiculous for him to be coaching. I always wonder if any of these guys actually want to be at the All-Star game, as opposed to just getting nearly a week off. My guess is they would prefer the vacation.

Let’s jump to the NHL, where you never want to see somebody lose their job, but the Kings firing Todd McLellan was that right move. Yes the players should feel really bad about it, but ultimately, the Kings still have young players they need to play more and develop to take to the team to the next level. McLellan wasn’t giving those young players the chance they needed, and his veteran players quit on him. The Kings have 3 wins in their last 17 games after starting the season looking like a real cup contender. The real question is if Rob Blake is going to be on the chopping block next if they can’t turn it around, especially after that disastrous trade with the Jets, which gave them a very disappointing Pierre Luc-Dubois. Only time will tell, but the Kings need to turn it around quickly.

Let’s go to baseball, where the thought might seem ridiculous, but why didn’t the Dodgers go after Corbin Burnes? The Orioles acquired the Brewers ace for a can of Coke and a bag of Skittles, mostly because he’s a soon-to-be free agent. The Dodgers have had such a great off-season the thought seems insane, but you can never have enough pitching, and they certainly had the prospects to make such a deal. Nevertheless, all eyes are on whether or not they can get another big bullpen piece, and bring back Clayton Kershaw. At the Dodgers fan fest over the weekend, Dave Roberts said he and Kershaw texted recently, and that they agreed to keep in touch. Unfortunately, this sounds like something you tell your colleagues when you’re leaving a job for another company, and then it never actually happens. We’ll see if Kershaw comes back, but it doesn’t sound too promising. He may just want to pitch closer to home with the Rangers.

Then there’s the Angels, who still aren’t spending a whole lot of money despite their bullpen additions. According to Jim Menolo and Jeff Joyce, on their XM/Sirius MLB hot stove show, they said it was “informed speculation” that the Angels aren’t spending money because the team is about to be sold. I’m not entirely sure I buy this story because even before Arte was looking at selling, this is how he’s managed the payroll the last couple of years. Nevertheless, if this is true, the timing would be somewhat tragic because it would be after Ohtani’s free agency, but I’m sure Halo fans would be excited to have an owner with deeper pockets and a modern baseball thinker moving forward.

I’d like to take a moment to expressed my condolences to the family and friends of actor Carl Weathers, who passed away last week. Weathers was an incredible American actor, who was featured in a number of movies that were significant to American pop culture. Most notably in the first 4 “Rocky” movies, where he played Apollo Creed, Colonel Al Dillon in “Predator”, Combat Carl in the “Toy Story” franchise, and Chubs in “Happy Gilmore”. The man was truly an icon, and should absolutely be celebrated!

We’re just a little less than a week away from Super Bowl 57, where the Chiefs and 49ers will have their showdown in Vegas. Even if you ignore the fact that the 49ers fan base is one of the most obnoxious in football, it’s hard to imagine San Francisco winning this game. The Chiefs have the 2nd ranked defense in football, which is something they aren’t notorious for, which has gotten them to this point. Of course Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Taylor Swift are great, but what really matters here is that Brock Purdy is going to have to find a way to beat the Chiefs defense, which has been spectacular all year. Outside of that I look forward to seeing all the bets on how much Taylor Swift will be shown on the broadcast!

This seems ridiculous to say, but the UCLA Basketball team can still win the PAC-12 regular season title. The Bruins have nine games left, and they are tied for 5th in the conference, but they are only 1.5 games out of 1st place. Considering they will play all the teams in front of them in those 9 games, they could easily get there. They would probably need to make quite a bit of noise in the conference tournament, if not win it, because they don’t have any signature wins against ranked teams. However, the development we’ve seen from Dylan Andrews, and Lazar Stefanovich has been impressive, and was on full display over the weekend in the win against Oregon. Don’t write this team off quite yet!

Finally, I can’t believe that Chip Kelly is actually considering NFL Offensive Coordinator jobs right now. On one hand, I think if he takes one, it would be a blessing for the Bruins Football program because they can get out of his contract, and move on from a guy who really doesn’t like his job. On the other hand, the fact Kelly is considering leaving tells you how far the program has fallen, and how much more difficult it will be in the short run when they move to the Big 10 next year. Still, let’s hope for the sake of the Bruins football program, Kelly decides to go to the NFL.

Monday Morning Coffee

January 29, 2024

Forget Championship Sunday for a moment, we have to start with the Chargers!  The Bolts made a huge move by bringing on Jim Harbaugh as their head coach last week.  I don’t know if Dean Spanos had his family held hostage by the fan base until he made this move, because he hates spending this kind of money, but he finally opened the bank for somebody.  This move instantly gives the Chargers the credibility they need in the LA Sports market, where they haven’t even been the best NFL team in LA since they moved from San Diego.  There’s a lot of work to be done, and salary cap issues, but you can expect a few things to change immediately.  The Bolts will be better defensively, they will be more physical, and they should be able to finish games better in the 4th quarter.   The Chargers may be in the same division as the best QB of this generation, but that won’t intimidate Harbaugh from competing. 

As for Championship Sunday, Lamar Jackson did his best Dak Prescott impression, as the Chiefs took care of the Ravens on the road.  Get ready for two weeks of Taylor Swift coverage! I’m no Swiftie but I don’t hate it and I’ve got tons of respect for her that she’s traveling to all these miserable cities to support Travis Kelce.  Then there’s the Lions, who disappeared in the 2nd half like Ron DeSantis.  Dan Campbell clearly doesn’t understand how analytics work because when you’re down by 3, you should probably kick a field goal to tie it when you are in range.  The Lions receivers didn’t do Jared Goff any favors either.  Maybe now we can close the book on COVID since the 49ers and Chiefs are coming full circle from their 2020 Super Bowl matchup.

Meanwhile, I’m sure the Rams fans were lighting a candle to the football Gods that the 49ers didn’t win yesterday, but they’ll have to light even more come the Super Bowl.  Odell Beckham Jr said this Ravens team is the best team he’s been on.  I’m concerned this man has CTE since he forgot he won a Super Bowl in 2021 with the Rams.  The Rams also lost their defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, but I think it’s fair to say that given the track records of Sean McVay and Les Snead, whatever decision they make will likely be a good one.

After Saturday night, how much more proof do you need that the Lakers don’t need a trade but to just play the right people.  Jared Vanderbilt was a +30 in 41 mins against the Warriors, and Taurean Prince was a -22 in 24 mins.  Of course he was! Vanderbilt was part of the starting lineup that took them to the Western Conference Finals last year.  D-Lo has been spectacular as well since his name started being thrown around in trade rumors, and if you want to suddenly give up on Austin Reaves you’ve lost it.  Dejante Murray isn’t the answer.  The answer is playing more Vanderbilt and Rui, and less Prince.    It’s like the Lakers had to beat Darvin Ham and the Warriors on Saturday.  Makes me think Prince must have some kind of dirt on Ham.  Wait until Ham gets his hands out of his pockets, then the league is really gonna be in trouble!

I’m pretty sure nobody noticed, but the Clippers actually went on the road on Saturday night and dismantled the Boston Celtics.  Celtic fans probably haven’t been that upset since slavery was abolished.  The Clippers have very quietly won 5 in a row, and are just one game out of 1st place in the Western Conference.  Tyron Lue basically told his players that they need to take the regular season a lot more seriously, because if you aren’t a top 4 seed, you’re chances of winning a title are statistically greatly diminished.  They are certainly listening to him, and finally building the chemistry needed to be a legit NBA Championship contender.

To baseball, where the Dodgers signed pitcher James Paxton last week.  Some of you may be thinking that signing indicates the end of Clayton Kerahaw’s run as a Dodger, but not necessarily.  Kershaw can’t pitch until the middle of the summer anyway, so the Dodgers needed another lefty starter for a good chunk of the season.   Paxton is somewhat of a reclaimation project, but the Dodgers have had a lot of success with those.  As a back of the rotation option he’s fine.  The Dodgers still need late inning bullpen help though, and sounds like they are on the hunt for it.  Kike Hernandez also sounds like he’s pleading for the Dodgers to re-sign him.  I love Kike, but the Dodgers have so many position players like him, I don’t see the fit, and I doubt Andrew Friedman’s computer does either. By the way, former Dodger 3rd baseman, Adrian Beltre was named a 1st ballot Hall of Famer last week. He played for 21 years, hitting 477 homers, batting .286, and over 1700 RBI, and more than 3,000 hits. He played 7 years for the Boys in Blue, including a season where he hit 48 homers. Everyone will point the finger at Frank McCourt as the culprit for not re-signing him. But for 7 years, the fans were highly critical of Beltre’s performance, which was always solid. However, it’s LA and the fans are maniacs, and this was before the social media era! It just goes to show you, sometimes you need a little perspective on a player before wanting to ship him out of town.

At this point, there is no doubt in my mind that Arte Moreno is trying to bamboozle everyone.  The last couple of off seasons what does he do? Tell his GM to sign a couple of solid relievers, which they did in Robert Stephenson and Matt Moore.  He also tells his GM to sign a useful bench guy, which they are trying to do in Kike Hernandez.  Rinse and repeat! Why? Because he doesn’t want to spend the kind of money necessary to win right now.  The Halos could really use Blake Snell and Cody Bellinger.  They are $70 million below the tax, and I’m sure $70 million or even less, could get them those two players.   Would they assure themselves of winning the AL West with them? Maybe not, but they sure would have a way better chance, especially if they can keep Mike Trout healthy.   Instead, feels like we are again getting some pyramid scheme but nice optics off-season, and the team will go nowhere again.

Finally, the LA Kings should really celebrate Lent early by giving up on coach Todd McClellan.   The Kings have just 2 wins in their last 16 games.  This was a team we were told were going to be serious cup contenders.  Instead The 23-24 LA Kings now look like frauds.  They have stolen your time, money, hope and mental sanity.  You cannot lose this much for a team with expectations and not change things up.  It’s so bad, veteran players you expect to produce, like Pierre Luc-Dubois and Kevin Fiala, look terrible.  The Kings are so desperate they are plugging rookie after rookie into their lineup for a spark, yet Todd McClellan isn’t even utilizing them.  This is the kind of play that not only gets coaches fired, but GM’s and other hockey executives in an organization.  It will be very interesting to see if anything changes with a long 9-day break coming for the Kings. 


Monday Morning Coffee

January 22, 2024

Now that the dust has settled after the Rams were eliminated from the postseason last week, we can look at it as a successful season, and look ahead to how they can improve. Since the team has a 1st round pick and over $40 million in cap space, they can do a lot to improve. Despite the 10 win-season they need help, on defense especially. They need an edge rusher, two cornerbacks, as well as more help on the offensive line. They will probably also be in the market for a backup QB, and should probably start thinking about Matt Stafford’s successor. I just hope when they are on the clock for their 1st round pick, they don’t try to burn a timeout.

As for the Chargers, they’ve interviewed some interesting candidates and are on to the second round of interviews. In addition to Jim Harbaugh, I like how they interviewed Mike Vrabel, but would hope they would interview Peter Carol and Bill Belichik. It should be nothing other than those 4 under consideration. However, I still think they should move quickly on Harbaugh, who could lose patience and just go back to Michigan if he doesn’t get what he wants. Carol would be interesting though and give them LA area credibility, but I’m still not convinced he can fix them the way Harbaugh could. It’s a huge moment for the Chargers franchise.

Elsewhere around the NFL Playoffs Divisional round, the Ravens dismantled the Texans and look like the team to beat in the NFL. Jordan Love looked like an elite QB for 3.5 quarters and the 49ers were shaking in the boots, but then he remembered he’s only Jordan Love in the 4th quarter. The Niners are headed to the NFC Championship Game next week against the Lions. The Lions got by Tampa, and their fans were so excited because it’s been so long, they don’t even know how to celebrate. Baker Mayfield was so jealous of Jordan Love throwing an interception late in the game, he wanted to throw one himself late against the Lions. Also, I’m sure everyone is ecstatic that the Chiefs beat the Bills because they’ll get at least one more week of Taylor Swift coverage during the NFL Playoffs. I have to say I’m super impressed that she’s been attending games in some of the coldest cities in America right now. Yesterday was definitely a tough day for both the Bills and terrorism, since Sean McDermott is apparently an Al Quaeda sympathizer. Of course running a fake punt with DeMar Hamlin could also be considered an act of terrorism. Not sure if this team will ever get over the hump.

The Lakers found the win column last night, but they are still floundering, in 9th place in the West. Is there time to turn it around? Ok sure, but not that much. The idea of a big trade that’s going to turn the season around just isn’t there. I know everybody is in love with Bruce Brown or Dejonte Murray, but there aren’t the type of players that are going to completely change the trajectory of the Lakers this year, given what it will take to acquire them. There is not a player like that out there this year. I know many of you dislike D-Lo, but you’re also forgetting something: spacing. The Lakers need shooting, and despite his flaws, D-Lo gives them much more of that than anybody that is currently available. To me, this team’s best chance is to play the lineups that got them to the West Finals last year, and let that chemistry continue to improve. That simply requires Darvin Ham to come to his senses and play more of Rui Hachimura and Jared Vanderbilt. It would also really help if they could come up wtih a defensive, yet playmaking guard to complement D-Lo. Like say…..Dennis Schroder? That of course is because Gabe Vincent is totally useless. Since the Raptors are in fire sale mode, perhaps Schroeder can be had after a buyout. If not, maybe they can call the Blazers about Malcomb Brogden. This may very well be Lebron’s last season with the Lakers, since he could want to play with Bronny next year. No need to mortgage the future, if there’s no move that really moves the needle from what they have anyway.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 21: D'Angelo Russell #1 of the Los Angeles

The Clippers are still rolling, maintaining their 4th spot in the Western Conference. Yesterday was a reminder that they will go as Kawhi Leonard goes. Kawhi went off for 14 points in about 5 minutes of the 4th quarter, as the Clippers rallied to beat the Nets. If there’s one thing that can bother this team, it’s physicality. However, not many teams can play that physical in the NBA today. The Nets did for a little, but they do not have the roster to sustain that level of play for 4 quarters of a basketball game. Nevertheless, as long as this team is healthy, the potential for playoff success if there.

After the big fish have signed with the Dodgers, the entire baseball offseason has slowed down. Ironically, it hasn’t picked up, and that’s because Scott Boras has been trying to get boat loads of cash for the likes of Blake Snell and Cody Bellinger. I’m ok with the Dodgers letting Josh Hader go to the Astros. Not because he’s a lunatic redneck, but because a 5 year investment for nearly $100 million in a reliever isn’t a great idea. I still think the Dodgers need to find a way to reunite with two guys that are still effective at their age: Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen. Both fill needs in the starting rotation and the bullpen, are still All-Star caliber players, and can be had at reasonable prices.

Then there’s the Angels, who signed reliever Robert Stephenson to a 3-year $30 million deal. He’s a decent pitcher, but the team has so many more needs, and so much more money they should be spending. Instead, they have spent their money on Anthony Rendon, who made more dumb ass comments on a podcast last week, saying that the season is way too long. Even his former teammate Jonathan Papelbon, confirmed he hates baseball with a tweet. What’s actually hilarious about this is it not only shows how much he hates baseball, but how lazy he is. The guy is only playing about 50 games a season, so why does he want the season shortened? So he can only play 20 games? Why don’t you just retire and give back your salary if you hate it so much? Unbelievable.

For a hot second, it looked like UCLA Basketball had turned the corner and may be improving. Then Arizona came storming back from a 19-point deficit on Saturday, handing the Bruins another loss. There’s really not much to be excited about here. The team is very inexperienced, and it showed once again in trying to close out a game against a quality opponent. We also saw numerous examples of this in non-conference play. As far as I’m concerned, in this era of one-and-done plus the transfer portal, I don’t see any of these guys coming back next year, nor should Cronin want them. He’ll probably ask for all these European players to be deported, let alone off the UCLA team.

Speaking of UCLA, the most glorious rumor we have been hearing over the weekend is that NFL Teams are interested in Chip Kelly as an offensive coordinator. This would be the UCLA Program and UCLA fans dream come true. However, I highly doubt that any NFL team will pay Kelly what an offensive coordinator job would pay. It’s a nonsensical rumor, but one that for now, Bruins fans can just dream about.

Monday Morning Coffee

January 15, 2024

Happy MLK Day everyone! Jared Goff got his revenge on Sean McVay and the Rams, as the Lions defeated LA 24-23 in the NFC Wild Card round. Look, this was a great season for the Rams to accomplish what they did. However, it doesn’t make the loss any less disappointing. I can’t understand why the Rams didn’t put more pressure on Goff from the start. When he has time, he can pick the defenses apart. This is well known. Instead they sat back, and said “let’s see if you can beat us” and he picked them apart early on. There’s no question that Puca Nakua got destroyed on that play and it should have been PI. It might have even won the game for them with a field goal. However, the game was lost on the missed opportunities in the red zone, and settling for field goals instead of Touchdowns. The game was there for the taking, but as we’ve seen before this season against elite teams, they Rams just seem to be a play or two short. The good news is, they have plenty of cap space and a nice 1st round pick to work with this off-season, so expect a big step up next year.

As for the Chargers, the coaching rumors are heating up and Jim Harbaugh is now scheduled to meet with them this week according to sources. At this point, if the Bolts don’t come away with Harbaugh, Pete Carroll, Bill Belichik, or Mike Vrabel as their next head coach, they should just move the franchise to Antarctica. Again, Harbaugh should be the guy though, and the only thing that would make me nervous is the Cowboys suddenly jumping into the sweepstakes. Stay tuned because it’s going to be a big week for the Chargers franchise!

Elsewhere around the NFL Wild Card Weekend, I think all the scouts that though Bryce Young was better than CJ Stroud should be drug tested immediately. Stroud lit the Browns on fire on Saturday, and led the Texans into the Divisional Round. I feel terrible for Cowboys fans after getting dismantled by the Packers. Not only did they suffer another devastating playoff loss, but Stephen A Smith is for sure going to cook them on First Take this morning. Meanwhile, the Chiefs destroyed the Dolphins in freezing cold temperatures. I realize that Travis Kelce is trying to be tough and show off for Taylor Swift without sleeves on. However, dudes arms were basically turning purple, and he couldn’t even catch the football. I’m impressed T-Swift showed up for the game, even if she was in a heated suite.

To the NBA where the Lakers are a complete train wreck. Sometimes it feels like every season with Lebron is either a total dumpster fire where the coach gets fired, or they end up in the NBA Finals. The Lakers are suddenly getting no production from what once appeared to be very productive role players, and even Austin Reaves isn’t doing the little things he did that made him look like a potential all-star last year. The worst part about this is that I don’t see a savior out there for the Lakers on the trade market. Zach Lavine isn’t worth gutting your roster for, and Dejonte Murray isn’t worth giving up Austin Reaves for, and simply doesn’t move the needle enough. If this team is going to turn it around, they need to do some serious soul searching, and Darvin Ham needs to play the lineups he did last year.

Meanwhile, the Clippers lost to the Wolves last night, but they are still on the up and ups in the West. They’ve won 8 of their last 10, but the bigger news is that they’ve signed Kawhi Leonard to an extension. It’s a three year, $152 million extension. This for sure paves the way for Paul George and James Harden to sign as well, which was important for Steve Ballmer going into a new arena next year. The good news for the Clips is that they didn’t have to crank it up to a a full 5 years on the extension, but it is still pricey. Nevertheless, the team is still very good when those guys are healthy, so clearly their best chance is keeping the group together and hoping for the best. Even if the sample size of big success is very small.

I guess the Dodgers aren’t really ruining baseball are they? It turns out the Yankees, Mets, and Padres all have larger CBT payrolls than the Dodgers. The Dodgers still need another left handed starter, and I think Clayton Kershaw is the guy, so hopefully he comes back. They could also use a high leverage bullpen arm. I think Kenley Jansen would be a reasonable option, as opposed to a larger financial commitment for Josh Hader. It would be nice to see Kike Hernandez make a return, but in this case, it doesn’t sound like there is much room left on the roster. I don’t really like the fact they traded Michael Busch, who is one of their best prospects, for a bunch of teenage pitchers. However, I will give Andrew Friedman the benefit of the doubt that he has something else up his sleeve.

I love hearing all the stories that “The Angels are interested in player x”. Of course they are, but that’s like me saying I’m interested in dating Jennifer Aniston. Reports are the Angels are waiting to see how their TV deal shakes out with Bally’s before they can figure out if they can afford a big free agent. That’s ridiculous though because it could take months to figure out, and even as slow as the free agent market develops, they still won’t figure it out in time. This idea that they could sign Blake Snell or Cody Bellinger is insane. They just don’t have the money, even though their payroll is currently around $70 million less than last year. Arte is looking for spare change in his couch right now.

I realize that UCLA Basketball won last night, however, they took an unbelievable beating from Utah on Thursday night, losing by 46 points. There is no world where UCLA Basketball should lose a game by that much, and certainly not to Utah. The good news is that most of these games are on the PAC-12 network, so most people can’t see the games.

Finally, the LA Kings have lost 8 in a row, and it’s looking really bad. In fact, at this rate, by the time they get home from their current road trip, they may be out of the playoffs. The noise around coach Todd McClellan is getting louder that he might even be fired. Double digit losing streaks for teams that are supposed to be Cup contenders are exactly the kind of thing that gets coaches fired. Nevertheless, the Kings need to get some scoring from their bottom 6 forwards, and figure out how to hold leads. They’ve been giving them away like they are a 501C3 charity of late. If they can clean those things up, they can get back to being the elite team we saw about a month ago.

Monday Morning Coffee

January 8, 2024

The Rams finished up the regular season yesterday with a win against the 49ers, and are headed for a 1st round playoff matchup against the Lions. Congrats to Carson Wentz on getting a win when given the opportunity, since the Rams rested most of their starters. The major significance of the game though was that Puca Nacua broke the rookie record for receiving yards and receptions, which is phenomenal for the 5th round pick. The Rams will face the Lions, which I know is the storyline everybody wanted to see. However, I feel like they may have been better off facing the Cowboys, who let’s just just say, may be allergic to winning big games. You know Jared Goff is going to throw for 500 yards and 5 touchdowns for a big revenge game, just because the Football Gods would probably want that. This has been a solid season for the Rams, and a great accomplishment getting this far, but I think next weekend is unfortunately where it ends. Here’s to hoping I’m wrong.

As for the Chargers, they finished up their disastrous season yesterday with a last minute loss to the Chiefs. For now though, there’s actually a lot to be excited about. The Bolts will get the #5 pick in the draft, but they suddenly have the opportunity to completely change their level of credibility in the NFL and in Los Angeles with a new head coach. That head coach should be Jim Harbaugh, who is rumored to have met with the Chargers multiple times already, and is also rumored to be highly interested. What’s not to like? He would be in LA and would have an excellent quarterback to work with, as well as other talent. The Bolts will need to solve some salary cap issues, as they probably need to shed about $67 million in total. You can always find a way to manipulate the cap in the NFL, and I expect they will find a GM who can do that, but there should still be enough talent on this team, as long as they get the right coach. If they don’t get Harbaugh, they should find a way to get Bill Belichik, who would be fantastic as well. Either is a transcendent coach that completely changes the course of the franchise. It’s a pivotal moment for the Chargers to determine if they will ever be relevant in the LA sports market. Not to be dramatic or anything.

To the NBA, where the Lakers managed to get back in the win column last night with a narrow victory against the red hot Clippers. I haven’t mentioned Darvin Ham and his coaching performance for a while on Jock Talk LA, but I think it’s high time I do. Before last night, it appeared this team had completely quit on him, and that he had lost the locker room. You cannot blame them though, because he refuses to play the lineups that got them to the conference finals last season for some bizarre reason. That’s exactly why they re-signed everyone, so he’s completely defeating the purpose. I’m also offended that Ham has criticized Laker fans recently by saying we all “live and die” with every game. Sorry Darvin, but where do you think you’re coaching bro? This isn’t Sacramento or Orlando. Even if you believe the Lakers are not a championship contender, they should be much better than this. They have two of the top 10 players in the league, who by the way, have played in most of the games and been outstanding. This team doesn’t need a trade. They need to have their key players utilized the right way, and they need to do it while there is time. I’m skeptical they can sustain this level of effort, engagement, and attention to detail on a consistent basis. In any case, the Lakers better do something fast, because we’re already in January. Also, speaking of the Lakers stars, Lebron says that Bronny could easily play for the team right now. Lebron is now a top 5 liar of all-time.

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Meanwhile, the perception of the Clippers has completely changed. Everyone went from thinking they are a good punchline with James Harden on their team, to looking at them as the biggest threats to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference. The truth is usually somewhere in between. They’ve always been a threat if they are healthy, but now Kawhi and Paul George are healthy. In the last 16 games, they are 14-2, and the two they lost were without Kawhi. More importantly, the Clips have something going for them that a lot of other teams do not: continuity (are you listening Darvin Ham?). Their starting lineup of Terrance Mann, James Harden, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Ivica Zubac has played 295 minutes together. That’s the most of any Clipper lineup since 2019. It’s no coincidence they are winning like they are because that is something they’ve desperately needed for years.

To baseball, where the Dodgers are reportedly out of the running for Japanese Pitcher Shota Imanaga. After taking a closer look though, signing him to a deal of $100 million might not be such a great idea though. He gave up 18 home runs last year in NPB, which is a league that values contact over power. That makes him the equivalent of a Japanese Lance Lynn. However, the Dodgers pivoted and signed outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, a right-handed hitter who can crush left-handed pitching. He’s a great fit, although I do wish they would find some guys that aren’t so focused on power, and more on contact. Hard to complain though. So what’s next? If they can’t get another starter (in addition to hopefully Clayton Kershaw) then they should pursue another high leverage bullpen option. Josh Hader is nice, but 5 years and $100 million for a reliever doesn’t sound like a wise investment long term. I’d much prefer a reunion with Kenley Jansen, who has one year left on his deal, and is still a very effective closer. He probably wouldn’t cost much to acquire either from the Sox, who seem to be having some payroll issues.

Speaking of payroll, Perry Minasian needs to stop blowing smoke at the Angel fans. They are too smart for these ridiculous statements that there’s a lot of good players still out there and the Halos are pursuing them. You’re $70 million below the luxury tax, and showing no signs of spending any of that money. If the Halos aren’t going to spend, they need to be smart and trade away these expensive veterans. That includes Mike Trout, Tyler Anderson, and Brandon Drury. If you’re not going to be competitive, just stop pretending like you are, and rebuild. They need a lot more in terms of scouting and development, but at least getting younger players to develop would be a start. This is way too sensible though for this organization so this suggestion is probably ridiculous.

UCLA Basketball has hit rock bottom, and is now in last place in the PAC-12. They lost to Cal over the weekend, falling to 1-3 in conference play, and just about ending all remaining hope this season. That’s right folks, they lost to the band geeks. Mick Cronin didn’t even want to address the media after the game. At this point, it’s looking like Cronin has basically given up on the squad. He’s probably sitting in the huddle in timeouts drawing up a list of schools where each of these guys should consider in the transfer portal, as opposed to drawing up plays. Adem Bona is probably the only guy he’d like to keep, and he knows he’s going to the NBA Draft after this year. The experiment with the Euros sounded great in theory, but none of them are ready for prime time. Cronin should just embrace the development process for these players the rest of the season, and then re-tool in the off-season with what he can from the transfer portal.

Finally, the LA Kings are suddenly struggling. They can’t win at home, they’ve lost 5 straight, and they are playing more like a wild card team rather than a top 3 Pacific Division team. They’ve surprisingly received great goaltending and have had some excellent defense but there are some disturbing trends. They have some great players who’ve offense has cooled off like Anze Kopitar, Quintin Byfield, Philip Danault, and Trevor Moore, and that has suddenly exposed Pierre Luc-Dubois, the $8.5 million man that hasn’t been scoring, and doesn’t look very interested in playing hockey. The Kings aren’t a surprise anymore, and teams have adjusted to them. It’s up to the Kings and their coaching staff to counter adjust, especially on the power play, which is very mediocre right now. It’s also a problem that the Kings seem to beat up only on bad teams, but struggle against good teams. 4 of their 5 straight losses, have come by one goal, so it’s these little things they need to clean up. There’s still plenty of time to do so, but the trends are disturbing nonetheless.

Monday Morning Coffee

January 1st, 2024

Happy New Year Everyone! Congratulations to the Rams, who clinched a playoff berth in the NFC with a win yesterday afternoon. I know some of you might be asking about Matt Stafford’s performance yesterday, or the lack of punt coverage, but who cares. They are in the dance, and there’s a lot of NFC teams that are looking vulnerable. When the season started, most people expected the Rams do be the Washington Generals of the NFL in 2023, yet somehow they managed to make the postseason. That’s an amazing job by Sean McVay and Matt Stafford. McVay is as successful of an NFL coach as you could have ever asked for. He’s had one losing season, and that was only because all his stars were hurt. As for who they play, as long as they don’t have to play the 49ers in the first couple of rounds, they should be even happier. Obviously anybody in the NFC South, or the Lions and Eagles wouldn’t be a bad matchup for the Rams. However, at this point, just getting this far is impressive in itself, and gives hope of re-loading going into next year.

As for the Chargers, nobody really cares about their meaningless loss against the Broncos, because the story is the coaching. It makes way too much sense for Jim Harbaugh to coach the Chargers. Harbaugh has accomplished just about all that he needs to at Michigan, especially if he ends up winning a National Championship next week. He’s also been deflecting questions from the media about departing for the NFL, like Bill Clinton deflecting questions about Monica Lewinsky. If Dean Spanos is really true to his word and money is not an issue, he will get this done. Harbaugh has been very successful in every coaching job he’s held, and would give the Chargers instant credibility in LA. He’s also likely to give them instant success too, which is something that has escaped them for a long time. Otherwise, this franchise will continue to be irrelevant in the 2nd biggest media marketing in the country.

To the NBA, where the Lakers are continuing to scuffle around .500, and have their issues since the ending of the In-Season Tournament. What a pathetic display yesterday against the Pelicans. How about some more effort? Hello? Is this thing on? Don’t let these jerks ruin your New Years Day. I know everybody wants to talk about Lebron and the team getting screwed after his 3-pointer was ruled a 2-pointer against the T-Wolves, but that is missing the larger point. This purpose of bringing this team back together and re-signing everybody was for continuity. Has anybody told that to Darvin Ham? Because D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, Lebron James, Anthony Davis, and Jared Vanderbilt have barely played together this season. I really don’t know why we are getting cute with all these lineup changes. That starting 5, with Rui Hachimura being the first guy off the bench, put them in the Western Conference finals. Ham needs to stop screwing around with the lineups and use the ones that made him successful last year. Then you can use the likes of Cam Reddish, Max Christie, and Christian Wood off the bench. This is a good team that is wasting away excellent performances from both Lebron and Anthony Davis. Gabe Vincent on the other hand is another former Miami Heat player, who looks like a free agent bust for the Lakers. Apparently part of “Heat Culture” includes being a free agent bust when signing with the Lakers. Since the Raptors are having a fire sale, it sure would be nice to get Dennis Schroeder back, who is way more reliable.

The Clippers have moved up to 4th in the West after righting the ship with some victories against the Hornets and Grizzlies. However, the concern for the Clips is the health of Kawhi Leonard. This sounds a little too familiar, but Kawhi has now missed 4 straight games, and oddly enough, hasn’t been cleared to return. The concerning part of any Kawhi injury is the guy could be fine, then the next minute you find out he’s out for the season. Considering the Clippers history of downplaying his injury, as well as the fact he was working with the coaches at the most recent shoot around in flat shoes, you can’t be too confident. Paul George also indicated he doesn’t expect Kawhi back anytime soon. Maybe it’s nothing. However, maybe it’s also everything. What the case is, the Clippers have to be feeling a little bit uneasy.

Christmas must have been really nice for the Dodgers, after they got the biggest names on their free agent shopping list from Santa. However, now, everybody wants to know what their next move is. That’s right, they are still shopping. The two names that seem to be popping up are closer Josh Hader, and Japanese left handed pitcher Shota Imanaga. Hader would be interesting, because the Dodgers would then have two great late-inning bullpen options with him and Evan Philips. However, he would likely command $100 million and 5 years, and those types of deals aren’t usually good for relievers historically. Imanaga on the other hand would give the Dodgers a reliable 6-man rotation. That would be huge because Walker Buehler will be on an innings limit after surgery, Bobby Miller is still very young, Tyler Glasnow has durability questions, and Yoshinobu Yamamoto has always been a part of a six-man rotation in Japan. In both cases, the Dodgers would be protecting their investment in the starting rotation while beefing up their pitching. Only doing so by adding a starter seems more sensible.

Meanwhile, the Angels still haven’t done anything. Unless you count them signing pitcher Zach Plesac. This guy’s 2023 might have been worse than Arte Moreno’s. He had an ERA over 7 in 21 innings and 5 games. He did nearly as bad when he was demoted to the minor leagues. How he is on a major league roster at this point is somewhat baffling, especially knowing that he once broke his hand after punching a wall. This guy sounds like he would make great friends with Anthony Rendon. Honestly, the Angels should just suck it up and go sign Trevor Bauer. They need the pitching, he’ll come cheap, and he’s past his legal issues. It’s not like things can get any worse roster wise, so why not take a chance on a guy who needs to prove it to rehab his value? This is way too sensible for Arte Moreno though, so who are we kidding?

UCLA Men’s B-ball started conference play over the weekend.  For about one game they had hope.  They beat Oregon State.  Then they played Oregon, and failed to execute down the stretch, reminding you that this team ain’t it.  The only way this team is going to participate in the NCAA Tournament is by getting a streaming subscription to CBS.  Either that or winning The PAC 12 Tournament, which would be near impossible with how they are playing.  Even Mick Cronin sounds like he’s giving up on the season when you hear him speak at post game press conferences.  Sebastian Mack is easily this teams best player, yet Mick Cronin put everything into perspective, saying he would never play on a team with more experience.  Thanks for reminding us that that team is trash this year Mick!

The Trojans got to feel good about themselves after taking down Louisville last week in the Holiday Bowl.  Sure it was a nice experience for USC fans to go down to San Diego and have a nice couple of days there and see a game at Petco Park.  It was also a feel good game for Miller Moss, who looked capable against a decent team.  However, let’s be honest, this is a glorified consolation game, which now, many of the top prospects are opting out of, like Caleb Williams.  Hopefully the 12 team playoff will fix some of this next year, and make more of the top players want to use the playoff as a platform for the NFL Draft.  In any case though, I have a feeling Moss won’t be USC’s starting QB next year, and they’ll be looking to someone in the transfer portal.

Finally, an update on the LA Kings.  It doesn’t matter how many games in hand you have on your opponents if you don’t actually win them.  The Kings lost close games to Vegas and Edmonton last week, which is a reminder that while they are good, they still have a lot to clean up internally before they are ready to take down their division rivals in a playoff series.  It sure would also be nice if Pierre Luc-Dubois started to play better, I mean he is making only $8.5 million this year.  On the bright side though, he’s killing it in the advanced stat category with attending 5 Laker games, 2 Galaxy Matches, and a Rams game.  Also for those of you who keep saying the Kings should have never gotten rid of Jonathan Quick, if he had just played halfway decently during last season, he would have never been traded.  Glad he’s playing well with the Rangers, but I wish he had played better so we didn’t have to trade him.



Monday Morning Coffee

December 25, 2023

Merry Christmas everyone! Christmas came early for the Dodgers last week, when they agreed to a deal with Japanese Ace , Yoshinobu Yamamoto. If there was one guy the team needed, it was Yamamoto, because they were desperate for front-line pitching. However, that wouldn’t have been possible without landing Shohei Ohtani earlier in December. Bravo Andrew Friedman. You clearly have a plan, and have executed it to perfection thus far, and you’re probably not done making moves either. It’s like he has a Black Card for Christmas Shopping with no credit limit. However, for those of you that think this is bad for baseball’s competitive balance, or somehow bad for the game, you have no idea what you’re talking about and you should go back to not watching baseball, because you probably weren’t in the first place. Just because you sign stars in baseball, doesn’t mean you win. It’s not the NBA. It can help you win, but certainly not the deciding factor. Plenty of teams without stars have been winning World Series titles in the last 20 years. Also, if you think having baseball’s biggest star in the 2nd biggest media market is bad for the game, you’re an idiot. The Dodgers will be hated this year, but more people will be watching them as a result, which is good for the game. It certainly helps that the Dodgers are in LA too, and have built a quality organization. Some of you are acting like other teams weren’t ready to spend over $300 million on Yamamoto, or $700 million on Ohtani, but the reality is they picked the Dodgers over a long list of other organizations.

Meanwhile, I’m still fascinated to see where the Angels go from here. I’m shocked Arte Moreno has not “raged spent” on any of the remaining free agents. The Halos may have actually stumbled into a couple of solid young players in Logan O’Hoppe and and Nolan Schanuel. However, their pitching remains an issue. Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery seem like they would fill a big need at the moment, but Arte hasn’t spent on pitching in a long time. If they don’t spend some of their cash though, which wouldn’t surprise me, it may actually signal that Arte may revisit selling the team. That would be the best news the Angel fans have received in a long time if it happened.

Remember when people thought the Rams were going to be bad and tank for Caleb Williams? Remember when Matt Stafford’s wife told everyone that her husband couldn’t relate to all the young players on the team? That was only a couple of months ago, but now it’s a much different conversation. Stafford threw for 328 yards on Thursday in the win over the Saints, and the Rams are on the verge of getting back to the playoffs. The Rams were 3-6 just six weeks ago, and since then they’ve won 5 of 6, while Stafford has managed to lead the team despite keeping his thumb attached with chicken, super glue, and duct tape. This is also a reminder of just how good of a coach Sean McVay is, in case you forgot that as well. The man should be up for Coach of The Year honors. I definitely think the Rams should handle business against the Giants next week, but facing the 49ers on the final week of the season will be a challenge. However, they might not need to win that game anyway, as 9 wins could get them into the postseason.

All it took was losing their quarterback, their coach, and their GM for the Chargers to start taking football games seriously again. They lost to the Bills on Saturday night, but they put a valiant effort forward. However, the real story is the coach and GM search. Of course Dean Spanos must have read Jock Talk LA last week, because he came out and essentially refuted my claim that the Bolts are unlikely to spend big on a coach. Spanos insisted that there won’t be financial limitations, but unless I see Bill Belichik or John Harbaugh coaching this team in 2024, I won’t believe him. The last three Charger coaches, Brandon Staley, Anthony Lynn, and Mike McCoy had no previous NFL Head Coaching experience. If I see another assistant with no head coaching experience get this job, you’ll know the reason why.

The Lakers looked fantastic in Saturday’s win against Oklahoma City on the road. I can appreciate the urgency that Lebron and AD showed against an elite team, but it’s also maddening. The ceiling on this team is high, which we saw from the In-Season Tournament victory, but since then they’ve been mailing it in. In the Western Conference, there are so many good teams, you cannot afford to mail it in consistently like they have been. The worst part about it is that now they are going into a much tougher part of their schedule, with the Celtics coming to town today for Christmas Day. I’m really tired of Lebron’s excuses though. Stop telling me it’s injuries or the in-season tournament. You and AD are healthy, the team is mostly healthy, but there’s just more nights where you and your guys don’t feel like playing. As the leader of the squad, you have to figure out how to get them up to play every night, or it will cost you in the standings.

As for the Clippers, their 9-game win streak was snapped with blowout losses to the Thunder and Celtics. They seem to insist that they aren’t bothered because the Celtics just got hot from 3, and they were tired in the Thunder game. However, the amount of points the Clippers gave up is alarming, even if they did play without Kawhi in both of those games. In fact, not having Kawhi is an even bigger blow for the team defensively, because outside of PG and Kawhi, this isn’t a great defensive team. It’s definitely something to keep an eye on, especially the health of Kawhi moving forward.

Just a few weeks ago, we thought UCLA Basketball was a young, dangerous, and talented team, that could make some noise come tournament time. Just a month later, we found out we were bamboozled. This team isn’t good. They are inexperienced, make a lot of stupid mistakes, especially turnovers. They have no offensive game plan, struggle to get the ball into the post, and are wildly inconsistent defensively. According to Mick Cronin, they’ve lost their confidence completely. When you lose 4 in a row, including to Cal State Northridge at home, it’s time to start looking toward next season. UCLA will be lucky just to look respectable in conference play, let alone make the NCAA Tournament.

I’m really not sure what to make of the Trojan Basketball team either. They are 6-5 and really not much better than the Bruins. On the bright side, Bronny James is back in the lineup, and has had some exciting plays in limited game action. USC has had their own problems like the Bruins, losing to good teams they’ve hung in with like Gonzaga, and also just losing to bad teams like Long Beach State. The difference is that USC has very low expectations as a basketball program, so when they do lose, it doesn’t catch people’s attention. With that being said, when you consider the likes of Bronny James, Evan Mobley, and Onyeka Okongwu, this program is becoming more of a breeding ground for individual NBA prospects to showcase their skills, but not necessarily a program synonymous with winning College Basketball games.

Finally, in the NHL, we are about 30 games into the season, and the Kings are firmly in the mix in the Western Conference Playoff race. There’s a lot to like about the Kings, given that Cam Talbot is older than the Dinosaurs, yet somehow he’s provided solid goaltending. The Kings also have the league’s best defense, best penalty killing, and the 4th best offense. You’re probably thinking two things: what am I about to complain about, and that the trade for Pierre Luc-Dubois was a success. That’s exactly my complaint. The trade for PLD has had limited impact on this early success the Kings have had. Despite his goal on Saturday, he has just 6 goals and is only on pace for 16 goals and 36 points. For a guy making $8.5 million a year, that’s unacceptable. Gabe Vilardi, one of the guys he was traded for, has missed half the season yet has one more goal than PLD, and is half the cost. I realize there is still time to turn around this narrative, but when you have a guy making that much money, he needs to produce if you are truly going to compete for a Stanley Cup.