Category Archives: Morning Coffee

Monday Morning Coffee

June 5, 2023

How adorable. Kyrie Irving thinks he can convince Lebron James to join the Mavericks. Even more adorable is the idea that the Mavericks would actually have pieces the Lakers want in a trade. I mean if they want to send the Lakers Luka, I’m sure that would be fine. What a ridiculous story that broke this morning, and even more ridiculous that NBA writers spent time covering and analyzing this nonsense. Had the Nuggets actually won last night, Mike Malone would probably be livid that people were taking attention away from the Nuggets. The more fascinating question is whether or not the Mavericks will offer Kyrie a full max deal. This is really Kyrie saying “Well Lebron, I really want to play with you, but I’m not going to take less money to do so”. Well Kyrie, you might actually not play with Lebron, and take less money as well! This means nothing for the Lakers. They will most likely be bringing back the same team, and maybe even a better one with the assets and options they have.

I don’t know how the Miami Heat are doing it, but they are. They somehow took home court advantage away from the Denver Nuggets and are headed back to Miami tied 1-1. This made way more sense when Jimmy Butler was playing out of his mind. Now Butler looks exhausted, sometimes Bam Adebayo looks like nothing more than Robert Sacre with cajun seasoning, yet their role players are balling. I assure you if Jamal Murray were playing against the Lakers, his final shot to tie the game yesterday probably would have gone down, just because it was against the Lakers.

The Dodgers lost 2 of 3 to the Yankees over the weekend, but that’s not really the big story going on with them. They made the mistake that every big company is making: publicly supporting something that people view as political. The Dodgers invited Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to the Ravine to honor them. Of course by doing this they pissed off Clayton Kershaw, among other MLB players who are conservative Christians, or people of faith. The bottom line is that whenever you engage in anything remotely political these days, you are guaranteed to piss off somebody. It’s also probably best to not piss of your franchise player if you’re going to piss anybody off.

As for the Angels, it’s their fans that should be pissed off. They lost 2 of 3 over the weekend to the Astros, but when you watch that series it was much worse than it seemed. The gap in talent between these two clubs isn’t that wide. In fact, one could argue the Halos have more talent. But when they step on the field, you can see that something is terribly wrong. The Halos did not make sound fundamental baseball players, they did not look like they believed they could win, and their leadership looked non-existent. That’s just a further extension of the lack of scouting and player development we know already exists for them. The problem is their appears to be no end in sight to this as long as Arte Moreno owns the team. It was also such a tease to hear the Warriors ownership say they are interested in buying the Angels. If they end up buying the A’s, you’ll be even more pissed off.

To the College Hoops where UCLA got some good news, which is that Adem Bona is coming back for his Sophomore year. Bona was a beast this season, and will only build upon that next year. It was a smart move. I only wish that Amari Bailey would have stayed, and that might have taken the team to another level. Instead, it’s going to be Bona and a bunch of Euros. I truly have no idea what that means in terms of how good they will be. The only thing I can assure you is that with all the Euros on the UCLA and Arizona basketball teams, they’ll probably need to take smoking breaks at halftime.

Finally, the LA Kings have announced that they are parting ways with TV Play-By-Play Announcer Alex Faust. Faust was the heir apparent to Hall of Famer Bob Miller. He actually did a phenomenal job, and has a very bright future as a National play-by-play announcer. Unfortunately, he is a casualty of two things. The first of which is being a victim of Bally Sports bankruptcy, and some consolidation of broadcasting platforms to control costs. The Kings are now having Jim Fox, Nick Nickson, and Daryl Evans take over with a simulcast. That’s a great team and all, but it is not a reflection on Faust’s skill as a broadcaster. Faust is also victim to the fact that he came after a Hall of Famer. You never want to be that guy, as usually it doesn’t end well. There’s too much to live up to. The same thing happened when Paul Sunderland came after Chick Hearn of the Lakers. Faust will land on his feet because of his talent, but unfortunate the Kings had to lose him.

Monday Morning Coffee

May 29, 2023

As a Laker fan, you wouldn’t normally say this after a season without a championship. However, it’s true: this season was actually a success. They completely re-invented their team with 20 games left in the season, and made the conference finals. Yes, the Nuggets were simply a better team, the Joker is the best player in the world, and Jamal Murray was video game good. There’s nothing to be ashamed about though. I don’t actually believe Lebron will retire, and I don’t actually believe that when he alluded to retiring that it was some kind of a passive aggressive ploy to make the team better. I think he was just emotionally exhausted from a long year and felt like he and AD gave it their best but ran into a red hot Nuggets team, which will probably win the NBA Championship. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but even though it was four close games, ultimately, I think Lebron and AD have to be better in the biggest moments. There’s no need to overthink the off-season though. The Lakers should do their best to run it back and try to re-sign as many guys as possible. Forget any stupid ideas of signing Kyrie Irving, trading for Trae Young, Damian Lillard, or some other expensive start that will gut the team. The Lakers should re-sign their young core, and they can still make the team better with some other attractive assets like Malik Beasley, Mo Bamba, Max Christie, and their 1st round pick. That’s a pretty good situation to be in heading into what I think will probably be Lebron’s final year with the Lakers.

Elsewhere around the NBA Playoffs, if the Celtics actually beat the Heat tonight and become the first NBA team to come back from an 0-3 deficit, I won’t be speaking to anyone for at least 3-5 business days. The Celtics will probably win tonight because they are playing game 7 at home. However, given all their inconsistencies at home, it would be the most Celtics thing to do to lose that game.

In the madness of all the Laker talk, nobody is talking about USC Athletic Director Mike Bohn stepping down. Bohn allegedly made inappropriate comments about the physical appearance of female colleagues, which made staff members feel uncomfortable. Reports also surfaced the Bohn was under investigation while he was with Cincinnati as well. It is now apparent that after all the scandals that USC had been dealing with, which Carol Folt was brought in to clean up, absolutely nothing has changed. So Folt had no idea that Bohn had a history of this in his previous job? She’s either an idiot, or integrity means nothing to her. One or the other, and nothing in between. Clearly at some point USC had a hunch this was going on, because they hired an investigator to look into what Bohn was doing. Ultimately, nobody should be surprised. If you make money for USC, they will look the other way until they are forced to do something about it. That’s what happened here when the Times started inquiring about the situation, so Bohn was forced to resign, or he would have been fired. Now Folt is probably going to pretend like she’s really woke to combat the public perception against her. USC Football may be back, but their integrity as a program remains in shambles.

USC athletic director Mike Bohn stands inside the Coliseum

To baseball, where the Dodgers are doing it. Despite most people thinking they would take some massive step back this year, they are in 1st place in the NL West, and have the 2nd best record in the NL. More importantly, they are doing a great job of trying to win now, while letting their young players develop in the big leagues. Miguel Vargas and James Outman have had their moments, but we need to be patient. It was one month of red hot baseball for them, and one down month for them. However, the Dodgers lead the NL in runs scored, are 2nd in homers and slugging percentage. The team is hitting. Ironically, it’s the pitching that’s been the issue, and that’s largely because of injuries to the starters. Dustin May and Julio Urias are down, Clayton Kershaw has had to deal with bereavement and body fatigue, and Tony Gonsolin has been injured and not the same as last year. I know everyone is waiting for the Dodgers to win the bidding war for Shohei Ohtani this winter, but there’s still a lot of other ways for this team to improve and win a World Series. If the Dodgers want to win now without mortgaging the future, they should call the White Sox about pitcher Lucas Giolito, shortstop Tim Anderson, or the Royals about closer Aroldis Chapman.

As for the Angels, it was a rough weekend after getting swept by the Marlins. They slipped to 4th in the division, and 6 games out of 1st place. Still, they are only 3.5 games out of the Wild Card spot. If the Halos are so determined to keep Shohei Ohtani and not trade him under any circumstances, they should really be doing everything possible to make the playoffs. That means they should be feverishly calling teams to try and make a trade to improve their club. They are in the top 5 of the AL in most offensive categories, but the pitching is in the bottom 3rd of the league. They should be scouring the league for starting pitching and bullpen help. Their farm system isn’t amazing, but they’ve had some young players featured in the lineup lately, that might help them improve their team in a trade.

To the NFL, where the Cardinals released DeAndre Hopkins. I bring this up because there is relevancy for the Rams. First of all, it means one less team that is competing in the NFC West. This looks like the Cardinals are giving up on both Kyler Murray, and competing in the division next year. It also gives the Rams an outside chance at signing the talent receiver and adding him to their talented and underrated offense. However, I think the priority for them would be adding a veteran running back.

Then there’s the Chargers who finally worked something out with Austin Ekeler. Ekeler is one of the best running backs in the league, yet is somehow only making $8 million next year. By NFL running back standards, Ekeler might as well be on food stamps. It also goes to show you how much the running back position has been de-valued in the league. Ekeler tried hard to try and find someone to pay him but he couldn’t. That’s good news for the Chargers, because they need all the help they can get to overtake the Chiefs.

Monday Morning Coffee

May 15, 2023

The Lakers are going to the Western Conference Finals. If you predicted this was going to happen in Mid February, at the time everyone would have thought you should be locked up in an insane asylum. Their defense against the Warriors was elite, Lebron and AD delivered when they were called upon, and the role players stepped up. They may not be favored, but this team has a reasonable chance to not just beat the Nuggets, but to win an NBA Championship this year. Those of you that wanted to trade Lebron James, Anthony Davis, fire Rob Pelinka, and have Jeanie sell the team, can send your apology letters to the El Segundo headquarters. Don’t forget about Darvin Ham, and all the right adjustments and buttons he’s pushed thus far. The Nuggets have arguably the best player in the world right in Nikola Jokic. However, Anthony Davis seems to get the better of him when they play. Howver, this version of Jokic is peak Joker. Plus the Nuggets have a great pick and roll challenge with Jamal Murray, and way more depth than when they last played LA in the postseason in 2020. If the Lakers execute at the top of their game, they can win this series. If not, they’ll get dismantled. As for the outside chatter, everyone wants to beat up the TNT guys and Stephen A Smith for laughing at Anthony Davis, but go easy on them. Their job is to entertain, and they do a damn good job. With that being said, I don’t think they treat the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Chris Paul the same way they treat AD, which isn’t fair, but that’s what comes with being a Laker.

Elsewhere around the NBA, the Celtics took down the Sixers to advance to the East Finals. Doc Rivers has now coached seven teams that have blown a 3-1 or 3-2 series lead. It’s a tradition unlike any other. Then there’s the Suns, who got destroyed in another elimination game, this time with KD. If The Suns get eliminated in a blowout by a team with another Euro, Joe Biden might start sending them money. Speaking of Euros, how did Mark Jackson not even have Jokic on his MVP ballot? Don’t ever let that guy assemble any IKEA furniture because you know he doesn’t read any instructions.

What’s the deal with Ty Lue? Dude is under contract with the Clippers, but his name keeps coming up with other jobs. The Bucks, Raptors, and Suns are all in the market for a new coach, and his name has come up as a candidate for two of those jobs. If these teams didn’t really think he could be had, why would his name be out there? It’s an interesting situation to keep an eye on and understand just how sold both sides are on each other. It’s possible Lue is frustrated with the injuries and lack of availability of his stars. He may feel like it won’t get any better if Kawhi’s people insist on continuing to load manage. From the Clippers standpoint, if they can get a 1st round pick for Lue, and solid coaches like Mike Budenholzer, Monty Williams, and Nick Nurse are out there, then how married are you to Ty Lue? Stay tuned Clipper fans.

The Dodgers swept the Padres over the weekend, and don’t look now, but the Boys in Blue have the best record in the National League. I was told that the Padres were going to run the NL West and that the Dodgers are made up of a bunch of scrubs this year. Turns out none of that was true. The Dodgers have won 13 of their last 15 games, have a 3 game lead in the NL West, and 7 game lead over the Padres, who aren’t even in the NL playoff picture at the moment. Mookie Betts is also crushing it, with 6 homers in his last `5 games, and Freedie Freeman is cooking too. It’s certainly a long season and it’s always about October with the Dodgers, but right now, there’s a lot to feel good about.

As for the Angels, they lost 2 of 3 to the Guardians over the weekend, so are now 4.5 games out of 1st place in the AL West. They won for the first time in forever in Cleveland on Friday, but the pitching and bullpen in particular let them down on Saturday and Sunday. The Angels schedule won’t get any easier this week with a four game set at the Orioles, followed by three at home with the Twins. Both teams have been playing well.

Monday Morning Coffee

May 8, 2023

Well here we are again. The Lakers are up 2-1 in a best-of-seven series, getting ready to play game 4 at home. Will Anthony Davis show up in game 4 tonight? He seems to take every other game off. Will Darvin Ham actually have his team prepared to play and not relax against the defending champs tonight? I fully expect the Warriors to shoot better, and play with more urgency and desperation tonight. However, the reality is the Lakers have beaten the Warriors in 5 of the last 7 games since January, and that’s because they match up well against them. The Lakers should continue to dictate the tempo, own the paint, and have the advantage at the free throw line. Oh you think it’s weird that the Lakers are shooting so many more free throws? It’s pretty hard to get to the line when you are launching 50 three pointers a night. By the way the Lakers had the most free throw attempts per game during the regular season, and the Warriors had the fewest, so if you’re surprised at the free throw disparity, you just haven’t been paying attention. The fact Lebron, AD, and most of the starters rested in the 4th quarter the last two games is huge for an older Laker team. Heck, the fact Austin Reaves played while the team was up 26 points should be a human rights violation. If the Lakers are focused though, they can and should win tonight. If not, they will cause themselves some major problems because the Warriors will get 2 of the last 3 games at home, and we know they are a much more dangerous team at home.

Elsewhere around the NBA Playoffs, the Sixers tied their series with the Celtics 2-2. Unfortunately for Laker fans, the Celtics are looking like a good bet to reach the NBA Finals. When Boston loses these days, white people are more surprised than when Hootie and The Blowfish broke up. They’ve still got 2 of the next 3 at home, and James Harden only shows up occasionally for Philly. He balled out yesterday, but he probably celebrated by going to the strip club, which will take him down for a few days. Then there’s the Nuggets and Suns, which is now tied 2-2 as well. I just don’t think the Suns have enough depth behind KD and Booker. They need Kevin Durant and Devin Booker to combine for 75 points every game, and even if that happens, that might not be enough with all the depth the Nuggets have. I have my doubts the Suns can do that two more times in the next three games.

Since the Clippers season ended, Lawrence Frank, their top basketball executive, spoke to the media about the team’s future. He said some interesting things about the teams future, some of which might surprise you. Frank acknowledge that “injuries suck”, and that the team simply needs better luck with keeping their stars healthy. He also said that they plan on continuing to build around Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. With that being said, he said they need to take the regular season much more seriously and approach it with a sense of urgency. I’m not sure how Kawhi Leonard and his people feel about this, since they are so insistent on handling him with kid gloves during the season. I also couldn’t help but notice that he declined to say whether both players would be offered contract extensions after next season, when they are eligible. The reality of it is the Clippers have no choice but to take this path. Stars are hard to come by, the Clippers have them, despite their lack of availability. Even if it’s crossed their mind that they want to trade them, nobody is trading for a player that is making over $40 million a year and available for only half the season. The Clippers also have to keep in mind that they are moving into a new building after next season, so they need big names to sell tickets in that building.

USC basketball got some exciting news yesterday. Bronny James, the son of Lebron James, has committed to playing basketball there next season. Bronny’s recruiting has felt more secretive than information about Area 51. It came down to USC, which was close to home, Ohio State which is close to his birth place, and Oregon which is close to Nike. However, since most schools knew this was his mentality, it probably depressed the demand for his services. It’s also surprising that Bronny picked a school that has a lot of wing players he will be competing with for playing time. This is probably also a good time for USC students, alums, and fans to realize that they actually have a basketball team, and that they may want to even show up to some of their games next season.

To baseball, where the Dodgers took 2 of 3 over the weekend against the Padres at Petco, and overall, they have been playing pretty good baseball. They are at the top of the division once again. There’s all these complaints that the Dodgers just aren’t that good this year, and it’s like everybody thinks they are suddenly playing with a bunch of scrubs in their lineup. Max Muncy leads the league in home runs, Freddie Freeman is top 10 in the league in hits, and Will Smith and Mookie Betts are still two of the best players at their positions in baseball on any given day. They all reminded you of that over the weekend. Actually, despite the brilliance of Clayton Kershaw this year, the Dodgers rotation is middle of the pack in terms of ERA. That’s almost unusual for them, but it feels like they will get better as the season goes on. The Padres still look like a team with a bunch of big names that just have hype. For all their talent, at times they simply appear undisciplined, and we’ve seen numerous instances of these big name teams that don’t perform when hit matters. Heck the Dodgers were one of those many teams last year! Danny Lehmann filled in as the Dodgers Manager on Saturday night while Dave Roberts attended his sons graduation. He probably found it remarkably easy to read off the spreadsheet Andrew Friedman provided him. As for Kershaw, there was much talk over the weekend about the Padres putting up a crying meme of Kershaw on the scoreboard on Friday night. Not sure why this is such a story. It’s an opposing teams ballpark. It wasn’t anything wildly malicious. Besides, Kershaw was a man about it, and said if you don’t want to see that then pitch better. It’s sports people. Don’t be soft. People are acting like they insulted his family or something.

As for the Angels, they dropped 2 of 3 to the Rangers over the weekend. The Halos had won 5 in a row prior to that, and just like last season, they are sitting near the top of the division in early May. The difference this season? The Angels feel like they have more depth than they had last season with all their positional players. Their pitching however, is very much a work in progress outside of Shohei Ohtani. Heading into the weekend, the Halos were 16th in ERA with Ohtani. Remove him from the equation, and their ERA goes up significantly. Their bullpen has already account for more than half of their 16 losses as well. That ERA only got worse over the weekend after the Rangers were basically taking batting practice at The Big A the last two days. Still, Perry Minasian seems confident that the Halos have the organizational depth to improve from within on the mound. Up next they’ll get 3 with the Astros, in another important early season divisional matchup.

Monday Morning Coffee

May 1, 2024

The Lakers are off to round 2 after taking down the Grizzlies in 6 games.   Dillon Brooks really said Lebron is old and won’t respect anybody until they give him 40.  So Lebron turned around and gave him a 20-20 game, then the Lakers obliterated Memphis by exactly 40.   What a clown Brooks is.  He couldn’t even make a shot either.  He talked all this trash, yet played like he had his flight booked to Cancun by Saturday.   As for the Lakers, it was really good to see D-Lo carve up the Grizz in a big playoff game, especially with Kyrie sitting courtside.   If you don’t want to give D-Lo credit, it’s because you don’t want him back with the Lakers next year, because you have a Kyrie agenda.  I think the Lakers got their preferred match up in Golden State instead of Sacramento.  They are an older team, will play at a slower pace than the Kings, and the Lakers have wing defenders they can throw at them.  Anthony Davis should easily have his way against the Warriors as well.  I’m sure Lebron will be punched in the balls by Draymond within the first two games though.  Other than that should be fun. This also feels like some destiny too for Lebron to get revenge against Steph for beating him all those times in the finals.

As for the Clippers, their season ended again with Kawhi and Paul George injured.  What a disappointment this has to be for Steve Ballmer.  Is he really going to put up with this for two more years?  I realize that Leonard and George were really hurt, but they practice and play so little together, there’s no way they can build strength and conditioning, or any kind of team chemistry. These dudes show up to work less frequently than a millennial that’s still hanging on to his work from home days.   I’m sure Russell Westbrook is also going to get a lot of love from the Clips after how he played.  It’s true that Russ played better with the Clippers than the Lakers.  However, it doesn’t change the fact that his inability to shoot and high turnover frequency makes him a late game liability.  That can be absorbed by some teams with depth, but I’m really not sure the Clippers are one of those teams, even with all their depth.  Reality of it is, this is the Clipper team for the next two years.  All they can do is hope for chemistry and health. Ballmer didn’t hesitate to end the Doc, CP3, Blake era, so I’m sure he won’t hesitate to end this one either. The problem is, Kawhi and PG probably aren’t nearly as tradeable as he would want right now.

To the ice where the LA Kings had a very disappointing ending to their season.  They were eliminated by the Oilers in six games, in another 1st round series with the division rivals.  Just because we thought the Oilers would win doesn’t make the outcome any less disappointing for the Kings.  They simply need to defend better, get better goaltending, and be more disciplined.  There was supposedly a sewage leak at the Kings practice facility last week.  That was probably just the team practicing their penalty killing.  For all the focus around improving their offense, which they did, they got away from the things that made them champions nearly a decade ago: defense and goaltending. This was my concern all along when they focused so much on changing their style of play.  It takes discipline , defense, and goaltending to win in the playoffs.  It always has, and unfortunately, the Kings will have to face the Oilers frequently in the coming years.  If they want to get by them, they’ll have to figure out how to build a team that can beat them, while also building a team that can win the Cup.

To baseball, where the Dodgers cured their problems over the weekend by sweeping the Cardinals.  They should clearly petition the league to play them every game.  Nevertheless, the Dodgers are tied for 1st in the NL West and continue their up and down play.  Clayton Kershaw once again looked spectacular over the weekend, and is now 5-1 with a 1.89 ERA.  The new pitch clock rules don’t seem to be bothering him.  I know Max Muncy leads the league in home runs, but when is Andrew Friedman’s computer going to move James Outman higher in the lineup? He’s been excellent.  I suppose Friedman’s software is still refreshing.

As for the Angels, they lost two of three over the weekend to the Brewers.  They are still hovering around .500, but 3rd in the division.  Shohei Ohtani is continuing to mash monster home runs, and all people do is talk about how much money he is going to get come the winter time.   Are the Angels really going to put up with this distraction all year? I know the answer is yes, but if we know the outcome is inevitable, why put themselves through this madness and get something for him?  Meanwhile, Mike Trout is still elite, but there’s not much else.  Anthony Rendon is making $30 mill and has hit as many home runs as you and I have this season. It sure would be nice if they could get some production out of him while they are paying him.

Do you know what 54 million people did this weekend? They watched the NFL Draft.  That’s insane to me, but more power to the league for commanding this kind of draw.  For some reason “The Rams have no picks” was a running joke in the NFL community for months, but they ended up with the most picks in the 2023 NFL draft with 14 draft selections.  I suppose that’s also because casuals only care about 1st rounders.  They did however, manage to replenish their offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, and running back positions.  Stetson Bennett is also an interesting pick at quarterback, who may succeed Matt Stafford in a couple of years.   The Rams will be young, but more competitive than most think in a weak NFC.  One thing is for sure though, the Eagles are loaded.

Meanwhile, the Chargers had a solid but not spectacular draft.  Most players they drafted probably won’t start in 2023, but some might in 2024.  That speaks to how good the Bolts roster is.  Unfortunately, the question will inevitably be, is the roster good enough to beat the Chiefs? As long as Patrick Mahomes is around, the answer might be no.  There’s also the fact the Chargers didn’t draft a running back.  That tells you that one way or another, Austin Ekeler will be back next year and they will work things out contractually.  Ekeler doesn’t have any suitors either, which means unfortunately for him, he has little contract leverage.

Monday Morning Coffee

April 24, 2023

The Lakers have a choice.  They can either make life easy for themselves and handle business tonight and Wednesday against Memphis, then get their rest before round 2.  Or they can make life difficult, screw around and make this is a six or seven game series before struggling to send Memphis home.  The choice seems pretty easy to me.  The Lakers are more disciplined when they want to be, deeper, and more experienced than the Grizzlies.  Memphis talks trash better than they do anything else, but  as long AD and Lebron set the tone, the Grizzlies will be in Cancun before the week is over. Dillon Brooks can run his mouth all he wants from there.

As for the Clippers, this is the most Clipper thing ever.  There is a superstar weird enough to want to play for them, yet he’s mysteriously hurt in the biggest moments nearly ever year he’s been with the team.  I don’t get it.  Kawhi was fine after game 1 and 2, and completely dominated.  Now suddenly he can’t play? The Clippers only needed one of their stars in Kawhi or Paul George to win this series against an underwhelming Suns team.  They unfortunately had neither available.  Steve Ballmer must be smashing his Microsoft Surface into pieces out of frustration.   Kawhi practically held this team hostage over his free agency demands, they meet all of them, yet he’s not reliable when they need him most.   He told the Clippers when the playoffs come he’ll be ready and available, despite the load managing.  Well the playoffs are here and he’s not.  What’s the point of load managing if you can’t build any chemistry or durability during the season?  Unfortunately for the Clips, they are stuck with Kawhi for two more years.

To the ice, where the Kings and Oilers are in a classic NHL playoff battle.  That series is tied 2-2 going headed back to Edmonton, and it’s anybody’s series.  However, what a missed opportunity for the Kings last night to take a commanding series lead. Still, this series is probably going 7, and we forget that these teams are actually very evenly matched.  They’ve each won 7 of the last 14 meetings. I’m not terribly worried about a let down emotionally after giving away a 3-0 lead last night, because the Kings still took a 4-3 lead after that. However, when I listen to Coach Todd McClellan speak, he sounds like a guy who really thinks the odds of winning the series are a coin flip, and knows the odds are against the Kings given that he’s going up against the two best players in the world. That’s not the attitude we saw in previous Kings team that were contenders. The Kings got Kevin Fiala and Gabe Vilardi back too, who both gave them offense, but it wasn’t offense that’s been their problem. They need to stay out of the penalty box or it’s instant death against Edmonton. Joonas Korpisalo has to be sharper in goal than last night, and the defense can’t make careless mistakes. On Friday in game 3 when the Kings won it OT, I love how Oilers Coach Jay Woodcroft said the Kings game-winning goal should be wiped out because Connor McDavid saw the puck knocked out of the air with a high stick.  He said “I believe the best player in the world”. Solid reasoning Jay.  Why don’t we just let McDavid be an independent arbitrator in all reviews during this series?  In any case,  most people didn’t expect the Kings to win this series, but they still have a chance to, despite the catastrophe of last night.

In baseball, for all the Dodger ups and downs, they are tied for 1st place in the NL West with the D’Backs.  The scary part is that the the pitching and hitting never seem to be clicking at the same time.  There’s also quite a few dudes like Chris Taylor, Trayce Thompson, and Miguel Vargas who aren’t giving them much production at all.  The bullpen has also been wildly inconsistent too.  I do wonder though if they will really try to make any significant improvements at the deadline if they are contending, seemingly content to just compete in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes next winter.   Either that or Andrew Friedman’s computer needs a software refresh this offseason.  Props to Clayton Kershaw though on his 200th win last week, as well as another great start yesterday.  He doesn’t get enough credit for still being great.

Then there’s the Angels who won yesterday, but have lost 3 of their last 5 games.  The shine on this team is wearing off quickly, already 4 games back of the Rangers and under .500.  To make matters worse, Logan O’Hoppe is likely done for the year with a torn labrum.  Phil Nevin said there was nothing the Halos could have done to manage it better, except if you believe him you have probably been drinking.  I heard 17 teams interviewed and passed on Nevin before the Halos hired him.  I’m sure he would have just nailed it on the 18th.  Arte might as well go ahead and trade Shohei now.

The Rams are continuing to trim the fat.  They traded Allen Robinson to the Steelers, and even ate part of his contract in the process.   I think the Rams might be slightly better than people think next year because the NFC is softer than Charmin, but look out for the year after.  They’ll have over $70 mill in cap space and 11 draft picks.  That’s why the NFL really stands for “Not For Long.

Lastly, UCLA B-Ball got some tough news last week, which is that now Adem Bona and Amari Bailey are headed for the NBA Draft.  Bona reserves the right to return to school, but he’s likely a 1st rounder with Bailey.  So if you’re keeping score at home (and who does these days?) The Bruins have lost 6 players from their 8-man rotation this year.  Think it’s safe to say next year could be a down year.

Monday Morning Coffee

April 16, 2023

That was quite a statement win for the Lakers yesterday against Memphis. They look rested, focused, and disciplined, while the Grizzlies looked like a very inexperienced squad, despite their talent. Think about this: Anthony Davis and Lebron James were the Lakers 3rd and 4th best players yesterday. The Lakers are so deep, the Grizzlies could adjust, and next game it could be the likes of Malik Beasley or Dennis Schroeder that beat them, let alone Lebron and AD dominating. Having an extra day of rest is also working in the Lakers favor too. Never thought I’d see the day Austin Reaves ran down the court with Lebron as his teammate yelling “I’m him!” Call me weird, but I’d much rather see Ja Morant healthy, because I don’t want to see any excuses from people as to why the Lakers won the series. The only thing that should make you nervous if you’re a Laker fan is that Charles Barkley thinks they are going to the conference finals. If Barkley thinks the sun is going to rise tomorrow, I’d be nervous the world is going to end.

As for the Clippers, don’t act like Russell Westbrook didn’t make you nervous as hell yesterday in that game. Most of you people were probably wondering why he wasn’t sitting on the bench in the 4th, but Ty Lue gambled and it worked out. Russ’s shooting percentage was sinking faster than Joe Biden’s approval rating yesterday, but he did manage to make a great defensive play at the end, and sank two clutch free throws to win it. Of course in typical Russ fashion, he couldn’t control his emotions, and at halftime went at it with a fan, breaking NBA protocol, and potentially getting suspended for game 2. The Suns are good, but they’ve only played 8 games with their full complement of players. I’ve seen dudes in 24 Hour Fitness pick up games with more chemistry than that. Kawhi has been playing at an elite level for a while now, and if he continues to do so, the Clips might just get out of this series with a win, without Paul George.

To baseball, where the Dodgers are having their problems. They lost two of three to the Cubs over the weekend, falling to 8-8. In 5 their wins this season, they scored 8 runs ore more. In 5 of their losses, they scored 2 runs or less. The lineup is just wildly inconsistent, and even Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman have been struggling of late. Their starting pitching and bullpen also isn’t as deep and as dominant as the last couple of years, so you just never know what you’re going to get from these guys. Despite Chris Taylor’s homers this weekend, he’s only hitting .135, and has been bad for over a year now. The best news for the Dodgers is the fact that they are only one game out of 1st place, and it’s the Diamondbacks they are currently chasing.

Then there’s the Angels, who lost three in a row over the weekend in Boston, against the Red Sox. The Halos are now 7-8 with some very frustrating losses. They’ve had the lead in 7 of those 8 losses, and all of them came by one or two runs. I feel like we’re trying to convince ourselves that this team is much better than they are, but when you watch them they are flawed, in the bullpen especially. When losses get tough like this, leadership in the clubhouse is also critical, and I’m just not sure they have it. Ohtani and Trout are great players, but are they leaders? This is probably about the time we’ll find out.

UCLA Basketball got some tough news last week. Amari Bailey will be entering the NBA Draft. For a hot second I thought with Adem Bona, Bailey, and a couple of solid transfers, this team might be able to be a contender again. Unfortunately, that doesn’t look like the case, especially with Tyger Campbell, also declaring for the draft as well.

The LA Kings are back in the playoffs, and they will open up a 7 game series against the Oilers tonight in Edmonton. The Kings are much better than they were last year, but unfortunately, so are the Oilers. The worst part about this for the Kings is that two of their most important offensive players, Gabe Vilardi and Kevin Fiala, will probably not be ready to play tonight due to injury. I like the fact that Coach Todd McClellan said that he would either start Joonas Korpisalo or Phoenix Copley tonight in goal. Thanks for the info Todd, otherwise I would have thought there was a chance you could start Patrick Roy.

Monday Morning Coffee

April 10, 2023

The Lakers did it. They went 17-7 down the stretch to finish the regular season as the 7th seed, and qualify for the play-in tournament. Had they played those last 24 games with more of Lebron James and Anthony Davis, they might have finished as high as 4th. They only played 10 games together after the All-Star break. Prior to yesterday, I was beginning to think that these guys worked for “Chick Fil A” since they never seemed to be available on Sunday. Finishing 7th is impressive and goes to show you how much better of roster they have after the trade deadline. However, one can’t help but question just how much gas this team has in the tank, and how durable they are to get through the West. It’s imperative that they win on Tuesday against the Wolves, which won’t be easy. They badly need the 5 days of rest leading up to a first round series with Memphis. Must be a tough situation for the Wolves. They obviously want to win, but the longer they play, the longer they have to be around Rudy Gobert, who is punching his teammates publicly now. The other thing the Lakers must do moving forward, is to make sure that Anthony Davis is involved more consistently on offense. He is un-guardable, and when he touches the ball he has to be doubled, which ultimately, makes the Lakers more dangerous than anyone. That’s on Darwin Ham and Lebron James to initiate that.

Meanwhile, the Clippers picked up a win against the Suns yesterday, clinching the 5th seed for the Clips. That means they will play Phoenix, beginning in the desert next week. When I listen to Kawhi talk, and you know he never talks, he doesn’t sound very confident that Paul George is going to be back anytime soon. For that reason, it makes me think that Clips aren’t feeling all that great about this matchup, and the Suns are. It probably also explains why Phoenix sat their starters yesterday. I’m not sure how the Clips will guard both Durant and Booker without George. Kawhi can only guard so many people. As for all the Russell Westbrook talk, people will say anything. Some anonymous NBA GM was quoted saying the Lakers didn’t use Russ the right way, trying to make him a wing, which is why it failed. That GM clearly didn’t watch the games, because he missed nearly two full seasons of Russ having the ball in his hands, blowing layups, hitting the side of the backboard repeatedly, and shooting the ball with the accuracy of Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Along Came Polly”. He also failed to realize that the Clippers record with Russ is actually worse since he got there. Still, a sensible person can realize that multiple things can be true at the same time. Russ is a better fit with the Clippers than with the Lakers, because he isn’t making $47 million anymore, and doesn’t compromise the Clippers depth. He’s fine as a minimum salary role player. However, the fact Ty Lue keeps him on the bench in the 4th speaks volumes about how much he trusts him in crunch time. That will continue to be interesting in the 1st round of the playoffs.

To baseball where it was a rough weekend for the Dodgers. They lost 3 of 4 to the Diamondbacks, and are suddenly looking like a very mediocre team. The most surprising part of their 5-5 start is that their pitching was especially bad. Austin Barnes probably wanted to get ejected yesterday, just so he could watch the Lakers and the Masters in the clubhouse. Usually it’s reliable, but both the starters and the bullpen were pitching like they were throwing batting practice all weekend. It’s also time to start moving the likes of Miguel Vargas and James Outman higher in the lineup, and drop Max Muncy. I realize that Muncy has done a lot for this team over the years, but he’s been bad for most of the past year plus. Move him down in the lineup until he can start swinging the bat like he we’ve seen him to before. I realize it’s early, and while I think the starting pitching will turn itself around, I don’t know what to make about the bullpen , or the inconsistency in the lineup. At some point they will need a real closer too. In the meantime, all we can do is overreact, because it’s what we do.

It was also a tough weekend for the Angels, who lost 2 of 3 to the Blue Jays. The Halos handed over a 6-0 lead yesterday, and then squandered some opportunities late to lose 12-11. The Jays are definitely a top tier team, so on one hand, you can’t be too upset, especially since the team seems to be swinging the bats. On the other hand, Phil Nevin’s pitching management probably could have been better, especially on a day like yesterday when Reid Detmers was struggling. How long is it going to be before Logan O’Hoppe becomes the teams cleanup hitter? How long is it going to be before Anthony Rendon starts earning his fat paycheck? The good news for the Halos is that they take on the Nationals next, who stink. Separately, I can’t believe the Halos asked Sam Blum to no longer appear on that Baseball Writer Roundtable show. Apparently when you tell it like it is, people don’t like it. Arte Moreno would rather sugar coat everything. We might as well be living in a communist regime.

Some mixed news for UCLA Basketball in the past week. Jaylen Clark and Jaime Jacquez have declared for the NBA draft. However, Clark did not hire an agent, and may come back to school. The Bruins now have to brace themselves for the decisions of Adem Bona and Amari Bailey. One would assume that Tyger Campbell isn’t coming back either. The Bruins did get some good news though in that they got a commitment from Utah transfer Wing Lazar Stefanovich. Hard to say yet whether he would start, but looks like a solid rotational piece. Given where most of these kids are projected to go in the draft, I’m surprised more NIL sponsors haven’t stepped up to come up with more money to keep those kids in school and keep UCLA as a championship contender.

Congratulations to Jon Rahm for winning the 2023 Masters over the weekend. I’m much more concerned about Tiger Woods though, and seeing him limp around on the course yesterday at Augusta. We knew that it was going to be tough for Tiger to just make the cut, which he did. However, when the weather got cold, it only got worse for him, and you knew his body was going to start working against him. At this point, it feels like he’s in a race against his body. Then again aren’t we all? I just had a bag of chips at 10:30 pm last night. I only hope that his issue is a simple case of plantar fasciitis, that won’t prevent him from competing in big tournaments later this year.

Finally, what the heck has happened to the LA Kings? They went from being one of the hottest teams in the league just a week ago, to struggling to score, and defend. Now, they will for sure not have home ice advantage in the 1st round of the playoffs starting next week. I mean the Kings played so badly against Vegas, I thought they were going to try to troll them by putting Jonathan Quick in goal late in the game. Heck, it might have given them a chance to actually win! If they play anything like they have in the past week, they will be booking trips to Cancun before the month is over.

Monday Morning Coffee

April 3, 2023

I don’t ever recall the NBA being like this. The level of play between the 12th best team in the Western Conference and the 1st place is tighter than a Kim Kardashian jump suit. At the moment, there’s probably 6-10 teams that could win an NBA championship this year. The Lakers are now one of them, assuming they can stay healthy, which is always a big question with them. After last night’s win against Houston, if the Lakers win their last 4 games, believe it or not they can get the 5th seed. What’s most impressive though is the fact that they can take control of a game with their defense over any given stretch. That’s exactly what they did on Friday against the Wolves, and yesterday against the Rockets. You guys can bitch and complain all you want about Anthony Davis, but when he’s healthy, he’s one of the best players in the league. Also, Dennis “The Menace” Schroeder has been and is going to continue to be a huge catalyst for this team. I’d prefer the Laker get the 6th seed and play the Kings in the 1st round, avoiding the Suns and Nuggets in the 1st round. However, I don’t think the Lakers care and feel they can beat anybody in the league right now.

Then there’s the Clippers. They suddenly find themselves struggling to not only stay in the top 5 of the West, but they could even slip back into the play-in tournament. In fact, that game against the Lakers on Wednesday, might even be for 6th place when we get there. Kawhi is playing phenomenal, and Russell Westbrook is putting up numbers, but there hasn’t been much of a reliable force on offense besides those two since Paul George went down. They are also struggling to defend consistently, which frankly, hasn’t exactly been one of Russ’s strengths the last few years. If you’re the Clippers or the Lakers though, would you rather be in the play-in or would you rather face the Suns in the first round? If I’m either of them, I’d rather be in the play-in and face the Suns later on.

Listen guys, when I say this, it’s no shade at San Diego but it’s true. That buzzer beating shot by Lamont Butler on Saturday is easily the greatest moment in San Diego sports history. It sent SDSU to the National Championship Game, where they will take on UCONN tonight. I have a soft spot for the Aztec Basketball program, as I used to host their pregame and post game radio shows in the early 2000s. If you know any FAU fans I can assure you that they probably won’t be speaking to you for at least the next 3-5 business days. Too bad the UCONN Miami game wasn’t all that competitive. The TV ratings and the ticket prices weren’t exactly what they’ve been in the past but rightfully so. It’s criminal to make people pay outrageous prices to see a basketball game in a football stadium.

To baseball, where it was a mixed bag for the Dodgers over the weekend, and a lot of frustration. They split their first four games with the Diamondbacks, despite dominating for stretches. The good news is that all four starting pitchers were sharp: Julio Urias, Dustin May, Clayton Kershaw, as well as Noah Syndergaard. That feels very on brand for this team. The bad news though is that the offense had its ups and downs. It was really good to see Trayce Thompson and JD Martinez swinging the bat well, despite having awful spring trainings. However, the situational hitting is still poor at times, with a total of 20 runners left on base in the two losses. Chris Taylor also continues to struggle, which has been a problem for over a year now. Ultimately, it’s the likes of Taylor, Max Muncy, and James Outman, and Miguel Vargas that are going to determine just how good the Dodgers really are this year, because we know Betts-Freeman-Smith are a trio that will produce at the top of the lineup.

Dodgers starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard delivers during the first inning.

As for the Angels, they handled business against the A’s, taking two out of three games. It seemed very odd that there was no game on Friday after starting the season on Thursday. However, you know there was some nerdy analytics guy in Oakland who convinced everybody that the data shows fans ,won’t come to games on Friday, or that the team might be paying too much in electricity on a Friday night in April, so better to not have the game. In any case, the offense looked good for most of the series, the lineup appears to have more depth, while Trout and Ohtani looked like the stars they are. As for Anthony Rendon’s altercation with a fan, both the fan and Rendon are wrong here. If you’re a fan, you can’t just say whatever you want because you buy a ticket. There’s a line and you can’t cross it. You can say a guy sucks, but you can’t get personal. That guy shouldn’t be allowed to come to an A’s game. For Rendon though, you can never put your hands on a fan, and he should know that by now. It’s a suspendable offense, even handed out by a guy like Rob Manfred, who has no idea what he’s doing. Then again Rendon would probably welcome a suspension since he seems to love his time off during the season to go along with his fat paycheck.

Angels' Shohei Ohtani throws against the Oakland Athletics in the second inning of an opening day game in Oakland.

Finally, the LA Kings are headed back to the playoffs which is great to see for their loyal fans. However, it once looked like they were going to finish 1st in the West, but now they’ll be lucky if they can get home ice advantage in the 1st round. That 1st round will likely be against the Edmonton Oilers, who were a thorn in the Kings side last year, and if you watched Kings hockey in the 80’s and 90’s, you know how much of a pain the Oilers have been historically in the early rounds for the Kings. The last few weeks the Kings have looked dominant offensively, but since this road trip started, they’ve been struggling to score. Some of that has to do with injuries, but there’s not much time to get health. It’s like they are giving you a taste of how they could suddenly disappoint in the playoffs. All I need to do is watch the game in colorful clothing, see the Kings lose, and I’m back in the 90’s all over again.

Kings forward Arthur Kaliyev, right, celebrates with teammates after scoring.

Monday Morning Coffee

March 27, 2023

It happened again. For the 2nd time in 3 seasons, Gonzaga is sending UCLA home from the NCAA Tournament. I know we all want to say that UCLA fought hard with injuries, and was right there with an opportunity to win at the end. That’s all true. However, the reality is that the Bruins went 11 minutes without a field goal in the 2nd half, and got crushed on the boards. If they cold make just a couple of baskets in that stretch, they win this game, and probably should have won in a blow out if we’re being honest. Injuries or not they should have won that game. Plus, when I look at teams remaining in the tournament, boy was this a missed opportunity. Heck, the last three seasons, this has been an immensely talented Bruins team that should have more to show for it than two Sweet 16 appearances, and a Final Four Appearance. I get that this is the nature of the NCAA Tournament, but still. The Bruins were right there. Unfortunately, it appears as though next year, UCLA probably won’t be that good because they could lose just about everybody. Adem Bona, Amari Bailey, Jaime Jacques, Tyger Campbell, Jaylen Clark, David Singleton, and Kenneth Nwuba, are all likely to leave. Yes, they all have remaining eligibility left, but they would all need some serious NIL money to stay in school and come back for another run. In all likelihood, UCLA is at least another season away from truly contending again. My only criticism of Mick Cronin is his inability to develop a deeper rotation. Then again, not many in College Ball have one. It’s just a reminder that even in college sports, as a player or a fan, the experience is 99% kicks to the balls and 1% glory.

Elsewhere around the Final Four, who are the 37 of you lunatics that correctly picked Miami, UCONN, San Diego, and FAU in your Final Four? I don’t know if you were all drinking when you made your picks, but whatever you were drinking, I’d like you to be part of your next round. These 4 teams were obviously much better than most of the “experts” thought, but that’s probably because they didn’t actually watch them throughout the season. Which is their job by the way. However, it does make you ask the question of whether or not you’d rather see all these crazy upsets at the beginning of the tournament if you’re left without the “blue bloods” and true number 1 seeds we’ve seen all year long? For the casual fan I think the answer is yes. For the degenerate gambler and the real college basketball fan, I think the answer is probably no. For the casual fan though, you probably won’t even remember who won the tournament in any given year. But you will remember the upsets and magical moments!

In the NBA, it’s a roller coaster ride for the Lakers every game. The Lakers win and their fans think they are going to win the Championship. The Lakers lose and their fans think this team is garbage and should be blown up. There is apparently no in between. The Lakers got a huge victory on Friday against OKC, and lost to the Bulls yesterday. That’s exactly the rhetoric that ensued over the last few days. With all that being said, I think the Lakers will make the play-in, although it may be the 9th or 10th seed, meaning they’ll have to win two games to get in the postseason. However, we’ve reached the point where if this team is going to go on a run, they need to have Lebron, AD, and DLo in the lineup every game. If not, the run we’ve all talked about won’t happen. Getting Lebron back was nice, but it’s an adjustment for the whole team. They need to go back to leaning on AD and having him be aggressive. 8 shots for AD yesterday is not acceptable. I have to say I’m also a little nervous about Lebron’s foot even though he’s back, after hearing him talk about it yesterday. He said he went to “the Lebron James of feet” to get treated. Does that mean the previous two doctors he went to were “the Smush Parker of feet”? There’s 7 games left, and they need to win just about every one of them. The good news though is that every other team around them seems to be going through their crap as well.

As for the Clippers, they got their own bad news last week. Paul George is going to miss the rest of the regular season with a knee injury. That one could have been a lot worse, but fortunately, he’ll be ok in a few weeks. Still, the Clips situation is fragile. They could easily slip back into the play-in tournament, which for them would be dicey because you never know in one game who could be available for them. So the next couple of weeks will be crucial for them as well. There’s also the rumors that Ty Lue may be stepping down at the end of the season, which of course the Clippers and Lue’s camp squashed. However, you can see why this could be true. It’s hard to coach a team where every single night you have no idea who is available to you and who isn’t. Only time will tell if this is true, and the next few weeks will probably have a lot to say about that. The best news for the Clippers though is that Kawhi is playing amazing despite the fact he got his face smashed Saturday. As long as he’s on the floor, the Clippers have a chance.

The baseball season has really snuck up on us and the Dodgers open the season on Thursday against the D’Backs. I’m still really shocked about the rhetoric around the Dodgers going into the season. Everyone seems to think this team is going to suck, and that they can’t hang with the Padres. If those are your expectations, I think you’re going to be pleasantly surprised. Sorry you’re used to have a $300 million payroll and instead it’s only $232 million now. It’s like you people are disappointed that you’re downgrading from a Ferrari to a BMW. The BMW might actually be more reliable in the long run. The Dodgers won’t win the World Series until they change their over analytical approach, so the postseason will always have it’s troubles until then, but this team is no less formidable than last year.

Then there’s the Angels. Arte Moreno messed up again. This time after Japan won the World Baseball Classic on the back of Ohtani’s brilliant performance, Moreno called him a “top 5-10 player”. He means “Top 5-10 player” all time right? This is downright idiotic. I wonder if Arte told his wife when he was courting her that she’s in the top 5-10 women that she’s dated all-time? That’s exactly what Moreno did in this instance, with Ohtani on the verge of free agency, and nobody of the opinion that he’s going to re-sign with the Angels. Those comments probably didn’t help. Nevertheless, there seems to be some optimism around the Angels with the season starting this week, but I need to see it before I believe it. I’ve been hearing about this for years, and supposedly the team has more depth, but I personally think the division is still too tough.