Monthly Archives: July 2013

Monday Morning Coffee

July 29th, 2013

The Dodgers are hotter than two super models fighting over a cheeseburger at In-N-Out.  After Yasiel Puig’s walk-off home run to beat the Reds yesterday, the boys in blue are 9-1 since the all-star break, and in 1st place by 2.5 in the NL West.   LA has won 26 of 32, and since Yasiel Puig was called up on June 3rd, they’ve had the best record in baseball.  Things have been so good, it’s almost concerning.  The Dodgers can’t possibly play .800 baseball for the rest of the season.   Is the team peaking too early?  Only time will tell, but they certainly have the pitching to be a factor.  Heck, even reliever Brandon League doesn’t suck anymore!

Meanwhile, Don Mattingly still can’t get any job security.  General Manager Ned Colletti was asked about extending Mattingly’s contract in a radio interview on 710 ESPN earlier in the week, and hardly gave Mattingly a vote of confidence.  Colletti said “We still hold an option on Don and I think everybody is focused on the last two months of the regular season.  We’re not looking at staff or player personnel situations, pending free agency, or stuff like that.”  Really?  You can’t give this guy any job security after what he’s overcome?  This situation is becoming more obvious than Shaquille O’Neal at a midget convention.  The Dodgers are hoping to hire Mike Scioscia.    Why else would you not commit to a guy that has proven so much?

Speaking of Scioscia, the Angels continued to sink faster than the Titanic in Oakland over the weekend.  This team is amazing.  Just when you think they are getting a decent starting pitching performance from Garrett Richards and on their way to a win, Scott Downs comes out of the bullpen to blow the game!  Then yesterday, the offense explodes and the Halos jump out to a 5-0 lead, only to have starter Tommy Hanson screw it up by giving up 5 runs in less than 5 innings.

If that isn’t enough, Albert Pujols was placed on the DL over the weekend with a torn ligament in his foot, and will likely miss the rest of the season.  That’s definitely the extra kick in the balls the Halos needed to give up on their season.  Pujols has been playing through pain all season, but he’s managed to be somewhat productive, hitting .258 with 17 home runs.  According to Fox’s Ken Rosenthal, the Angels are definite sellers with the trade deadline approaching.  They will be listening to offers for Howie Kendrick, Erik Aybar, and Scott Downs.  Their goal is to upgrade their starting pitching, but without big time prospects, that like trying to swap a Honda for an Italian Sports Car.

I’ve been very impressed with the number of players who have spoken out against Ryan Braun after we learned this week he’s at the center of the Biogenesis scandal.  Braun was nearly caught two years ago using performance enhancing drugs, and when he escaped on a technicality, he screamed from the mountain top that he was clean.  Now that we know he was lying, he’ll forever be known as “Lyin Braun”

Major League Baseball simply isn’t doing enough to stop players from cheating.  The potential reward for using performance enhancing drugs is a mult-year contract worth over $100 million, and the risk is only a brief suspension.  If the MLB is serious about ending this problem, they will start throwing people out of the league or terminate their contracts after getting caught once.  Wait until we start hearing names of NBA players who are on HGH.  I’m sure that’s coming next, and I’m scared to find out who’s on the list.

On Pac-12 media day, USC AD Pat Haden declared that head football coach Lane Kiffin “is not on the hot seat”.   Haden claimed that SC is still being negatively impacted by the reduction in scholarships they are still facing from NCAA penalties.  Funny how this never seemed to be an issue in the first year of the penalties when the Trojans went 10-2 with a much less experienced squad.  Make not mistake about it, if SC has another 7-6 season, those rich alums who’s daddy’s own Hotel Figueroa will be withholding their donations until Kiffin is replaced.  Here’s what Haden had to say in case you missed it….

Lakers point guard Steve Nash will be given an honorary tryout with storied European soccer franchise Inter Milan this week.  For a guy that’s 40 years old, and coming off hip, hamstring, and back issues, this feels like a bad idea.  Nash even claimed that he isn’t 100% healthy yet, which makes this decision seem dumber than Johnny Manziel’s decision to attend a UT frat party.

Speaking of dumb, former Lakers center Andrew Bynum claims that he “hasn’t had the opportunity to play for a city that is really just gonna stand up and really support the team.”  Bynum recently signed a 2 year deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers.  I guess Andrew doesn’t remember all the support the fans gave the Lakers during their recent back to back championships, especially since he wasn’t even healthy enough to be on the court for most of it.  Andrew’s going to be pretty disappointed to learn that the fans in Cleveland don’t actually “stand up” because there isn’t much to cheer about.  Especially since they live in Cleveland.

Over the weekend my long time friend Pam Chiu told me a classic LA Clipper story.  Recently, Pam and her friends were at a restaurant in LA, when Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan walked up next to them.  Since NBA players look like aliens from outer space when seen in a public place, it was pretty hard for her not to notice these two dudes that were two feet taller than her.  Pam looked up at Blake and said “Wow, you guys are really tall.  Um….are you guys race car drivers?”  There you have it folks.  When a Laker player walks into a restaurant, everybody knows who they are.  When a Clipper player walks into a restaurant (even the most popular player in franchise history), people ask who the hell they are.  I bet you Pam got her table before Blake and Deandre did too.

In a recent poll by Travel and Leisure Magazine, San Francisco was named the snobbiest city in America.   As someone who actually lived in San Francisco, this makes perfect sense.  That city is so snobby because it is made up of a number of different types.  There is the “leftist snob”, who wouldn’t vote for anyone other than a 3rd party candidate.  There is the “gay snob” who only supports establishments owned by individuals from the LGBT community.  There’s also the “organic snob”, who is known for interrogating the vendors at Farmers markets about the exact origins of their seeds.  Keep in mind, for all the crap Los Angeles and Orange County receive for being snobby places to live, LA didn’t even end up being in the top 15, and no city in Orange County made the list.  So to all my friends living in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and DC, your cities are much snobbier than mine!







Will The Trojans Rebound?

Colorado v USC


July 27th, 2013

There’s no denying it.  Last season, the Trojans performed about as poorly as a busted condom.  USC came in with national championship aspirations, and a #1 preseason ranking in the AP poll.  The team crumbled under the weight of those expectations, finishing 2nd in the Pac-12 south at 7-6, and losing in the Sun Bowl to Georgia Tech.  Naturally, Trojan alums have been calling athletic director Pat Haden for months, and bitching about head coach Lane Kiffin, in hopes that he will be ejected from the universe soon.

Kiffin received a vote of confidence from Haden on Pac-12 media day, as Haden tried to assure everyone that his head coach “is not on the hot seat”.  That’s about as believable as Ryan Braun not taking PED’s, but at least Haden tried to take some pressure off of Kiffin to start the season.

The Trojans still have a very talented team heading into 2013, but have a major question mark at a very key position: quarterback.    Max Wittek played in 8 games last season, and started the last two with Matt Barkley injured.  He did a serviceable job in his first two games, but during the bowl game, he struggled more than a sorority girl stumbling home on a drunken Thursday night.  Wittek will face stiff competition in camp from sophomore Cody Kessler, and true freshman Max Browne.  Kessler is largely unproven yet known for his cerebral talents at the position, while Browne was considered the best pro style high school quarterback in the nation last season.  It’s difficult to know exactly what the Trojans will get out of the position with such a small sample size.

The good news for whoever wins the starting quarterback job, they will be surrounded by some potent offensive weapons.  Silas Redd returns at running back for USC, and will be entering his senior year.  Redd rushed for just over 900 yards last season, and scored 9 TD’s but was slowed by injuries.  He’ll be backed up by juniors DJ Morgan and Tre Madden, who missed all of last season with a foot injury.  Two promising freshman will also be in the mix in Justin Davis and Ty Isaac.

At receiver, USC has one of the best in the country in Marqise Lee, who was named last years Biletnikoff award winner, with over 1700 yards and 14 touchdowns.  Sophomore Nelson Agholor is expected to step into the #2 receiver role after Robert Woods departed for the NFL.  The Trojans also have a solid 1-2 punch at tight end with juniors Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer.  This group should be one of the most talented in the country.

Last year’s offensive line struggled with a very inexperience unit.  They also failed to protect Matt Barkley, which resulted in him taking punishment throughout the season.  The group is deeper this season, as the only loss is 3 year starter Khaled Homes.  The depth should help in the event of injuries, but the key will be having more consistent pass protection.

Last season the USC defensive line was easier than Paris Hilton after happy hour.  The Trojans allowed 167 rushing yards per game, which was their highest total given up since 1996.  However, they did have 45 sacks, and will be returning senior defensive end Morgan Breslin, who had 13 sacks.  Senior George Uko will also be counted on for his experience at defensive tackle, but the real question here is whether new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast can develop a better scheme than Monte Kiffin did last year.

The defense does have solid linebacking core, with a great deal of depth.  Senior Hayes Pullard returns after leading the team in tackles last season and earning All-Pac 12 honors.  Senior Devon Kennard returns after missing last season with an injury as well.  Kennard was moved to linebacker after playing defensive end, and he’ll be joined by sophomore Jabari Ruffin, who should help this group cover a lot ground quickly.

However, the secondary will be very inexperienced.  The Trojans lost two all conference performers in safety TJ McDonald and cornerback Nickell Robey.  They will have 4 of their top 8 defensive backs returning, but they’ll need to hope for a big improvement from the defensive line pressuring opposing quarterbacks in order to take pressure off of the defensive backfield.

The good news for the Trojans, the schedule will be easier and the team will be deeper.  Here’s my prediction:

@ Hawaii- Win

vs Washington St  -Win

vs Boston College- Win

vs Utah State- Win

@ Arizona St – Loss

vs Arizona- Loss

@ Notre Dame – Loss

vs Utah- Win

@ Oregon State- Win

@ California – Win

vs Stanford- Loss

@ Colorado – Win

vs UCLA – Loss

The Trojans finish 8-5.  They should be in the mix for the Pac-12 south title with ASU and UCLA, and they’ll have the luxury of lower expectations.  However, those lower expectations are the result of having inexperience at key positions including quarterback, and their defensive backfield.  Improved play at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball will be imperative for USC to get back to its winning ways.  As for Kiffin, he can probably survive an 8-5 season with these type of expectations, but no worse than that.  Last season, he mismanaged his relationship with Barkley, and ultimately crushed the confidence of his starting quarterback.  Even though Marqise Lee exploded, Kiffin also failed to utilize Robert Woods as an effective complement to Lee.  Without a doubt, AD Pat Haden has taken note of these things, and the pressure is on for his head coach to deliver.  Even with the scholarship reductions USC is facing, the Trojans must show improvement, or a change in leadership will be coming.


Can The Bruins Build On Last Year?

Bruins Hundley

July 25th, 2013

With the Bruins getting ready to open training camp, it’s time to ask: can the team build on last season’s surprising success?  UCLA’s 9 wins, and 2nd straight trip to the Pac 12 Championship game last season was more surprising than a sorority girl being sober on a Saturday night on the row.  Head Coach Jim Mora Jr. completely change the culture of the program in one season, and quarterback Brett Hundley emerged as the best UCLA Quarterback since I was causing trouble in my college days.

Despite some big wins over ASU, USC, and Nebraska, the Bruins also had some nasty losses to Cal and Baylor, where they looked like a completely different, and horrendous team.  The schedule will be much tougher this year, including back-to-back road games at Stanford and Oregon.  Fortunately for UCLA, there’s quite a few winnable games at home.

The Bruins return 7 starters on offense, and 5 starters on defense.   The biggest question mark on offense right now is who will be running the football?  With Jonathan Franklin leaving for the NFL, UCLA will look to Jordon James and Damian Thigpen to emerge as a #1 running back.  The Bruins were a solid 37th in the nation in rushing yards last season, but they’ll need to have someone step up in order to be just as effective as last season.  The offensive line is still young, but added 6 four star freshman to the mix, which will provide some much needed depth.   They are led by all-conference guard Xavier Su’a-Filo, who is entering his junior season.

Meanwhile, the receiving corp is still looking strong, led by the return of Senior Shaquelle Evans.  Evans was recently named to the Biletnikoff pre-season award list, as a potential candidate for the top receiver in the nation.  Sophomore Steve Manfro should emerge as a solid #2 receiver for this group as well, which was 34th in the nation in passing last season.  Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone made use of a very well balanced attack, and Hundley figures to improve in his second full season as a starter, which should make the offense just as lethal.

On defense, UCLA was surprisingly effective last year due to a solid pass rush.  However, their lack of depth up front hurt them in the 2nd half of many of their games.  This years defensive front will be led by senior defensive end Cassius Marsh, but will take a major hit with the potential loss of Owamagbe Odighizuwa, who will likely be lost to a hip injury.  The Bruns added depth here with some quality freshman, but they key will be avoiding giving up the big play, which this unit was known for at inopportune times last season.

The linebacking corp is led by Senior Anthony Barr, who is one of the best 3-4 linebackers in the country, and also was 2nd in the nation in sacks last season.  Junior Erik Kendricks should be very effective alongside of Barr, so the Bruins shouldn’t have much of a drop off here after losing Damien Holmes and Datone Jones.

As for the secondary, this is where Bruin fans might wet their pants in fear.  5 of last seasons 6 top defensive backs are gone, and that unit was horrendous.  The Bruins added several 4 star recruits in their defensive backfield, so its hard to image this group getting any worse, but nevertheless, it’s the teams biggest concern.

If the Bruins are going to return to the Pac-12 Championship for the 3rd year in a row, they will have to come up with a couple of big wins on the road.  Here’s my prediction:

vs Nevada- Win

@ Nebraska- Loss

vs New Mexico St – Win

@ Utah – Win

vs Cal- Win

@ Stanford- Loss

@ Oregon- Loss

vs Colorado- Win

@ Arizona- Win

vs Washington- Win

vs ASU- Loss

@ USC – Win

An 8-4 finish for the Bruins.  As more teams get more film on Jim Mora Jr’s squad, UCLA is unlikely to surprise teams like last season without further adjustments.  A number of incoming freshman will have to make an impact on the defensive side of the ball, and they will need a full season to develop.  The road schedule will be a challenge for this group, but they certainly have the chance to go undefeated at home to keep them in the Pac-12 race.  The 2013 season may not be as promising as the previous season, but the Bruins are building a new brand of football in Westwood, which could be a national player in 2014 and beyond.




Monday Morning Coffee

matt-kemp homer

July 22nd, 2013

The Dodgers entire outfield was healthy for exactly 8 innings.  It was a spectacular 8 innings though.  The Boys in Blue swept the Nationals in our nations capital over the weekend after a 9-2 victory on Sunday, and are now just .5 games out of first place in the NL West.   Matt Kemp led the way with 3 hits and 3 RBI’s, including a solo home run in his first game off the disabled list, but then rolled his ankle on a stupid play in the 9th inning. The injury could have been avoided if he hustled running from 3rd base to home plate.  This is baseball Matt….it’s not sex with Rihanna.  You’re supposed to hustle going from 3rd to home.

Kemp doesn’t seem to be injured too badly, but the Dodgers shouldn’t even think about trading one of their outfielders at this point.  Kemp, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, and Yasiel Puig have shown they can be great players for stretches of time when they can stay healthy.  The problem is they never are, and they’ve been one the disabled list as frequently as Kim Kardashian is seen dating a black guy.  There should be plenty of at bats for all 4 of these guys the rest of the season, and having all of them is a nice luxury for a Dodger team that can afford it.  LA is on a roll, winning 20 of their last 25 games.

Meanwhile, the Angels looked good for a couple of nights before getting shut down by 1st place Oakland.  Even more frustrating is the fact that they were shut down by former Angel, and now 40 year old pitcher Bartolo Colon.  The Angels are 10 games back with the trade deadline approaching in 10 days.  That would appear to make them sellers, but then again, what exactly do they have to sell?  Any takers for Josh Hamilton and his $125 million contract?  Probably not.  Maybe the Halos can trade their general manager Jerry Dipoto for a general manager that can actually acquire some pitching.

As for Bartolo Colon, how has nobody suspect this guy of using HGH or some other performance enhancing drugs?  The guy is 40 years old, in his 15th year in the league, and he’s on pace for career highs in wins and ERA, and could very well win the AL Cy Young.  I’ve always believed that the heavy set Colon would dominate anyone in a pie eating contest.  Clearly, he’s now baking the HGH into his pies.

Lakers owner Jim Buss was interviewed on NBA TV last week and explained that when signing free agents this year, “we picked players that fit and can run Mike D’Antoni’s system.”  That tells me that either the Lakers are trying to tank, or that Buss learned nothing from watching last season.  The Lakers were 17-25 when they tried to run D’Antoni’s ridiculous system, yet finished 28-12 when they slowed things down and controlled the tempo.  I often wonder what Jim Buss is like when he goes to the race track to bet on horses.  Does he always bet on the slowest horse to win?  I hear he wasn’t very good at it.

The Kings named former player Rob Blake assistant general manager last week to replace the departing Ron Hextall.  Blake may be qualified for the job, but on multiple occasions in his career, he has shown a complete disloyalty to the franchise that drafted him in the early 90’s.  This included stripping himself of his captaincy in 2001 while in the midst of a contract dispute, which is like spitting in the face of your teammates and fans.  I’m not sure why the Kings are showing so much loyalty to the man that’s turned his back on the franchise so many times.  That’s like a battered house wife going back to the dude that keeps beating her.  I’m curious to see if Blake gets booed when introduced on opening night in October.

Speaking of the NHL, the new divisional realignment is unbelievable.  They actually named one of the divisions in the Eastern Conference the “Metro Division”.  So if your team plays in this division, does that mean you have to manscape before every game?  Leave it to commissioner Gary Bettman to screw up something like this.  I also like how nearly all the teams in the Atlantic Division play in the North East.  Maybe Bettman could come up with something a little more sensible like uh…..”The Northeastern Division”.

The Dallas Cowboys opened training camp in Oxnard last week, and owner Jerry Jones said that the NFL “is closer than ever” to returning to Los Angeles.  I still find this very hard to believe.  LA has had two separate stadium proposals that are ready for construction for quite some time now, but need a commitment from a team to start the project.  Seems to me that the NFL and its owners want a team in Los Angeles a lot more than anybody that lives there.  If that’s the case, then they should give LA an expansion team, and the league should finance most of it.  How come nobody asked Jerry Jones when NFL Football will be returning to Dallas?

At this point, can we stop with the idea the Phil Mickelson isn’t clutch?  The story was kind of funny a few years ago, but after taking the British Open yesterday, he now has 5 major victories.

So Edward Snowden is supposed to leave the Moscow Airport in a few days according to his lawyer.  Has he actually been in the airport this whole time?  I’ve been stuck in an airport for 10 hours before, and I nearly lost my mind.  This guy has to be hating his life after spending weeks there.  If anything, he probably needs asylum from all the crappy airport food he’s been eating.  I’m sure he’s tried just about everything in the food court as this point.

Finally, memo to those of you protesting the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial:  take your protests away from the 10 freeway entrance!  Some people actually need to get to work and make a living while you guys piss and moan.










Kings Extend Brown

Dustin Brown celebrates

July 18th, 2013

The Kings have secured another cornerstone of their franchise for nearly the next decade.  On Thursday, LA extended captain Dustin Brown’s contract for 8 years, worth a total of $47 million.  Although most of you were told there would be no math here at Jock Talk LA, that equals a very reasonable cap hit of $5.875 million per season.

Brown was so eager to remain with the franchise that drafted him 10 years ago, that he even negotiated his own deal.  On a conference call, he explained that “going into this, I did my homework and did comparisons and received help from the (NHL) Players’ Association on some numbers and stats.”  He’s also well aware that he may have taken less money in order to be a part of a winning team.

“I realized in a cap era that there’s only so much money to go around, and with the cap going down this year and not having that certainty what it will be next year, there’s an opportunity to keep this team together.  That was part of my decision in wanting to stay because I believe we have a chance to win.”

The 28 year old Brown has scored 181 goals and 388 points over his 641 career games.  Over those 9 seasons, he’s also appeared in 50 playoff games, and totaled 31 post season points.  In 2012, he led the Kings to the franchise’s first ever Stanley Cup championship, and he piled up 20 points over that 20 game post season run.

This past season, Brown scored 18 goals and 29 points in 46 games.  He also helped the Kings reach the Western Conference Finals before losing to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks.

Brown is the 9th Kings player locked up to a long term deal by General Manager Dean Lombardi.  The others include Drew Doughty, Jonathan Quick, Anze Kopitar, and more recently Slava Voynov.

Despite losing a few minor role players such as Dustin Penner and Rob Scuderi this off-season, the Kings still have a team that should be able to contend for Stanley Cups the next several years.

The Kings also made several other moves, naming former Norris Trophy Winning defenseman Rob Blake assistant general manager after Ron Hextall joined the Flyers.  The also acquired forward Daniel Carcillo from the Blackhawks in exchange for a conditional draft pick in 2015.

Angels At The Break

Scioscia Ump

July 18th, 2013

The first half of the baseball season was uglier than Randy Johnson’s grill for the Halos.    The Angels tumbled into the all-star break losing 5 of their last 6, and getting swept by the Seattle Mariners.  They currently sit 5 games under .500, 11 games back of first place Oakland in the AL West, and 9 games back in the wild card race.   Things aren’t exactly going as planned.

Much like last year, this disaster starts on the mound.   Only 3 teams in all of baseball have a worse team ERA than the Angels.  Ace Jered Weaver missed nearly two months with a broken elbow, then needed another month find his game.  He’s only 3-5 on the season with a 3.63 ERA.  Jason Vargas got off to a respectable 6-4 start, but went on the DL with a blood clot.  Tommy Hanson has been knocked around sporting an ERA of 5.10, and Joe Blanton has been abused more than a battered housewife with his 2-12 record and ERA of 5.53.  The Halos tried to make it a point to fix their pitching after last season’s woes, but somehow found a way to be even worse this year.

Meanwhile, the offense hasn’t been the force that everyone expected.  Josh Hamilton’s career is spiraling downward like that of Tara Reid.  Hamilton is hitting a career low .224, and is on pace to drive in the fewer runs and hit few homers than he has in the last 4 years.  He’s also on pace to strike out a career high 165 times.  Albert Pujols has been plagued by a foot injury since spring training, and although productive at times, he appears to be on a slow but steady decline.   Considering these two are earning a salary that collectively equals the GDP of a small country, their productions stinks.

Once again, the Angels start to the season appears to be what will kill them.  The Angels tied their worst start in franchise history, going 11-22, before trying to play catch up.  They won 8 in a row in late May, but then went on to lose 9 of 11 games shortly after that.  Another win streak of 7 in a row, was recently halted by losing 5 of 6 heading into the all-star break.  The hole is just too big, and the teams in front of them are too good.

The entire team doesn’t suck though.  Mike Trout is having another outstanding season .  Trout is 2nd in the American League in batting average at .322, and is on pace for nearly 30 home runs, over 100 runs batted in, and almost 40 stolen bases.  Trout is arguably the best all around player in baseball.  Mark Trumbo has another 21 home runs thus far, Howie Kendrick has been very productive at 2nd base, and CJ Wilson has been the teams most reliable starter.

The Angels are a talented ball club, that has been underachieving for a season and a half.  The Halos used to pride themselves on being a team that relied on pitching and defense.  Their pitching is terrible, and only the Astros have made more errors than them.  Mike Scioscia has  been known to manufacture runs, and play a very aggressive style on the base paths.  Instead, Angels GM Jerry Dipoto has handed Scioscia a bag of crap, that simply sits back and waits for aging sluggers to hit the 3-run home run.  If the Halos are going to turn things around, they’ll need to figure out their identity.


Dodgers At The Break

Hanley High Five

July 17th, 2013

Trying to figure out what type of team the Dodgers are is about as hard as trying to keep Lindsay Lohan from getting drunk.  The Dodgers were just 30-42 after 74 games, and in last place in the NL West.  However, they went on to win 17 of their next 22 games, to even their record at 47-47, and are now just 2.5 games behind Arizona for first place in the division.  So is the glass half full or half empty?

It’s fair to say that with a $209 million payroll, LA has underachieved.  If you have the highest payroll in baseball, you shouldn’t be a .500 team.  If you have a $200 million payroll, you should probably have a closer that doesn’t wet the bed every night, and some consistency on the left side of your infield.  More importantly, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, two of the teams highest paid players, should be hitting the ball out of the ballpark.    All of that has the makings of a team that is an expensive bust.

Then again, injuries have slowed the Dodgers down.  Hanley Ramirez has spent half the season on the DL, Matt Kemp’s been on it twice, and even when he’s been in the lineup, he’s been ailing.  Zach Greinke was a moron in San Diego, and spent nearly two months recovering from a broken collar bone.  Carl Crawford has recently spent time on the DL, as have starting pitchers Chris Capuano and Ted Lilly.

All of those things aside, since calling up Cuban phenom Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers have had the best record in the National League.  Their re-surgence has not only coincided with Puig doing his best Bo Jackson impersonation, but also, with Ramirez, Greinke, and others getting healthier.  Manager Don Mattingly also seems to have temporarily solved his bullpen issues by putting Kenley Jensen in that role, and exiling Brandon League to a remote desert island.

Nearly every team in the NL West has made a run thus far.  The D’Backs have been in first place for most of the season, but had one stretch where they lost 8 of 9, and their division lead over LA has shrunk from what was once 9.5 games.  The Giants spent some time in first place early in the season, then dropped 14 of their next 16 games.  The Rockies spent parts of April and May in first place, but came back to earth and are now 3 games under .500.  The Padres went 33-21 over a 54 game stretch and were in 2nd place in the division, but have only won 4 of their last 22 games.  In other words, the remaining 68 games figure to be crazier than Mr. Toads Wild Ride.

With Puig in the fold, the Dodgers are definitely a different team.  He has completely energized the entire ball club, and saved Don Mattingly’s job for the time being.  LA has one of the best starting pitching staff’s in baseball, led by Clayton Kershaw, who has the lowest ERA in the game.  Zach Greinke has looked very good of late, Hyun-Jin Ryu has been excellent for most of the season, and the newly acquired Ricky Nolasco looks reliable.  The bullpen remains a question mark, but with Jansen closing and the recent emergence of Paco Rodriguez, the Dodgers relief core has been stabilized for now.

The Boys in Blue seem like a good bet to make the playoffs at this point.  They are only 2.5 games back in the division, and 5.5 games out of the wild card.  If LA can remain reasonably healthy and Puig and Ramirez continue to tear it up, playing in October isn’t unreasonable.  For $209 million, the Dodgers aren’t the most well balanced, and well constructed ball club.  However, they can still become an elite team if Matt Kemp can get healthy again, and become the power hitter he was early last season.  As for Andre Ethier, he may just end up being an expensive 4th outfielder, but it’s just money and the Dodgers have plenty of it.


Monday Morning Coffee

Puig Slam

July 15th, 2013

Giants manager Bruce Bochy has lost his mind.  Since Yasiel Puig was called up in June, the Dodgers have had the best record in the National League, and he’s easily been one of the best players in baseball. Still, Bochy is determined to keep this guy off the NL All-Star team.  Bochy started his little scam by throwing Puig’s teammate Adrian Gonzales on the final roster spot ballot so they would split votes.  Then, when the winner Freddie Freeman was injured, he selected catcher Brian McCann instead of Puig, when he already has two catchers on the roster!  I’m still trying to figure out how Puig lost the fan ballot, but the fact that the MLB didn’t release the final totals make this fishier than a crate full of cod.

Then again, keeping Puig out of the all-star game will prevent him from further damaging his reputation for being an ass to the media.  Puig says he’s been bothered by the numerous interview requests he receives on a daily basis, and feels that it has been a distraction to him.  I guess this must explain why his batting average has “plunged” to just under .400.  Puig has set aside time for a collection of reporters to answer their questions on a daily basis.  Although he’ll have to learn that granting interviews is part of his responsibility as a star player, the evil 4 letter network believes that they are too important not to have one on one interviews granted to them.  Sadly, ESPN has become like Facebook: everybody needs them, but everybody complains about them.

As for the Halos, it was a disastrous ending to a disastrous first half of the season.  They head to the all-star break losers of 5 of their last 6 games after getting swept by the Mariners.  I’m still baffled as to why Mike Scioscia continues to send Joe Blanton to the mound every 5 days so this guy can get rocked.  He’s on pace to lose more than 20 games in spectacular fashion, and Josh Hamilton is still about as useless as a pork sandwich at a Jewish picnic.  It probably would have made more sense for the Angels to hang on to Ervin Santana, who could at least be a .500 pitcher at the back of the rotation for the same price.   The Halos are 10.5 games back of first place, and the climb is stepper than Mount Everest from here.

When the Lakers said goodbye to Metta World Peace this week, it was strictly a cost cutting move. The Lakers will save $15 million by waiving World Peace, but they lost one of their best defenders, and easily the most entertaining player on the team.  This is the same guy who wore his game uniform to a night club after winning the championship in 2010.  This upcoming season will be a nightmare for the Lakers, so having him on the team would at least provide some entertainment value for the fans and the media.  My favorite Metta moment was his post-game news conference after game 7 of the NBA Finals in 2010, here’s a look back:

Meanwhile, the more I hear details about how Dwight Howard left the Lakers, the more happy I am he is no longer in LA.  Last week, ESPN LA’s Ramona Shelburne reported that Dwight actually asked the Lakers if they would consider amnestying Kobe Bryant at the end of the season, so they could build the team around him.  So let me get this straight, Dwight Howard has never won a championship, has been in town for less than a full season, and is asking for the Lakers to get rid of one of the greatest players of all time?  Dwight does realize that Kobe has 5 NBA championships and he has none right?  I’m sure at that point, Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss probably laughed in Dwight’s face and told him to get lost.  Even Kobe Bryant never asked the Lakers to get rid of Shaq in 2004. It was Dr. Buss who decided to get rid of him, and then begged Kobe to stay after that.

I can’t tell you how disappointed I was to learn that American 100 meter record holder Tyson Gay test positive for a banned substance, and will likely miss this years track and field world championships.  Gay claimed that he put his trust in someone else, and that person let him down.  Sorry Tyson, but this is the type of crap I expected to hear out of a major league baseball player, not you.  If you are a professional athlete, your job is to keep your body in great shape, and know exactly what substances are going in and out of your body.  It’s also not very surprising that Jamaican sprinter and former 100 meter world record holder Asafa Powell test positive for a banned substance too.  The Jamaicans have one of the most pathetic drug testing programs in the world, and it’s only a matter of time before world record holder Usain Bolt is caught.

If you ever get the chance to go see Bob Saget do stand-up comedy, please do.  I got the chance to see him in Irvine on Saturday night, and he was definitely laugh out loud funny.  Much of his humor revolves around his experience with other cast members of “Full House”, and embarrassing stories each of them were involved in.  At 58 years old, Saget has now become a dirty old man, but is quite entertaining.

Last week I mentioned how amazingly bad the SyFy channel was, and “Sharknado” on Thursday night lived up to this reputation.  The best part about the movie was reading all of the comments on twitter, which generated a record 5,000 tweets per minute at one point.  I thought the only thing that could ever break twitter was if Kim Kardashian dated Tim Tebow, however, after Thursday I stand corrected.  I love how SyFy is already talking about a sequel because of the audience it received.  The concept was crazy though.  I mean Sharks and Tornados?  Early in the movie, when Ian Ziering came home and Tara Reid wasn’t having a gang bang with 10 NFL quarterbacks, you knew the movie was totally unrealistic!

Sharknado 2






Getting The Band Back Together?



July 11th, 2013

Are the Lakers bringing back their championship roster from a couple of years ago?  Well, maybe not entirely, but it’s looking more and more like it.  The Lake Show signed guard Nick Young to a one year deal for the veterans minimum deal today.  Earlier in the week, they also reach agreements with former Laker guard Jordan Farmar, and center Chris Kaman on veterans minimum deals as well.

The Lakers have about as much money to spend in free agency as Frank McCourt had to spend on the Dodgers.  However, Mitch Kupchak has been resourceful.  Young is a former USC Trojan, and has been in the league for 5 years with career averages of 11.3 ppg and 37% three point shooting.  Kaman is a former Clipper, and averaged 10 points and 5 rebounds in 66 games for the Mavericks last year.  Meanwhile, Farmar played in the Turkish League last season, and LA spent $500,000 to buy him out of his contract.  Last time he played in the NBA in 2011-2012, he averaged 10.4 points per game on 46% shooting.

By adding the former UCLA Bruin Farmar, and potentially Lamar Odom, the Lakers would be bringing back two key members of their rotation from the 2009 and 2010 championship teams.  The Lakers roster lacks youth, athleticism, shooting, chemistry, and coaching.  That’s a lot of missing pieces to make up with the limited resources LA has.  Farmar and Young may not be elite NBA players, but they are serviceable role players that improve the Lakers shooting, youth, athleticism, and come at a bargain.

As for chemistry, even though Lamar Odom came into camp fatter than Miss Piggy last season, he could very well be motivated to get back into a shape and have a solid year with a team he’s comfortable with in the Lakers.  Frankly, I’m not even sure what he’s waiting for.  It’s obvious that Khloe will not allow Lamar to leave LA, nor does he have any desire to.  Both the Clippers and the Lakers are offering $1.3 million salaries for one year, however, the Lakers can offer Odom a chance to start, whereas, Odom will be a towel boy with the Clippers.

There’s something to be said for having chemistry, which the Lakers had none of last year.  But bringing back Odom and Farmar to a group with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol will fit together more perfectly than a Kate Upton Bikini.  I would even take it a step further if I were the Lakers, and trade Steve Blake and Jordan Hill to the Wizards for Trevor Ariza, which would further enhance the Lakers chemistry and athleticism.

Unfortunately, there’s no immediate solution to the teams coaching problem.  Well, other than hiring that Phil Jackson guy.


Monday Morning Coffee

Tank 4 Wiggins

July 8th, 2013

I can’t believe I’m going to say this.  If Kobe Bryant heard me say this, he would probably punch me in the face, then give me his death stare.  The Lakers need to tank next season.  If you want to be really good, at some point you have to be really bad for a year, and next year is the year to do it with Andrew Wiggins as the top player available in the 2014 draft.   The Lakers will struggle just to make the playoffs next year, especially with Kobe recovering from his achilles tear.  Getting the 8th seed will do no good when the Lakers get raped in the first round, as opposed to having a few extra ping pong balls in the lottery.  This is exactly how the Spurs got Tim Duncan in 1997.

Meanwhile, the Lakers have almost no free agent options left after Dwight Howard’s departure.  The team can’t even amnesty Metta World War because there are no decent small forwards on the free agent market.  The Lakers should just bring back Sasha Vujacic, Lamar Odom, and put up with the Kardashian drama for another year before re-tooling next summer.

As for Dwight Howard, one has to wonder how badly the Lakers really wanted him back.  They were willing to hang on to Mike D’Antoni, who will probably be fired in a year anyway, than make Dwight happy.  They were also willing to let Kobe give Dwight a good scolding during the presentation.  I admit it, Dwight is a pussy, and couldn’t handle the pressure in LA.  However, he was a cornerstone that would put the Lakers in a much better position moving forward.  In any case, have fun running your air conditioning in Houston Dwight.  By the way, after all this Dwightmare nonsense, does anybody know if Dwight is two syllables or just one?  Is it just “Dwight”? Or “Da-Wight”?  Either way, Shaq thinks he’s a pussy……

Yasiel Puig and the Dodgers have jumped back in the NL West race in no time.  The Dodgers are now in 2nd place in the division, after taking two of three from those liberal, crab sandwich eating, San Francisco Giant bastards.  Has anybody tried to rent an apartment in San Francisco?  It’s no wonder everyone is gay because everyone is so used to taking it in the ass every month when they pay their rent.  Anyway, I hope everyone has voted 25 times or so for Yasiel Puig.  This dude needs to be in the all-star game because he’s been one of the best players in the National League so far.  Even though Adrian Gonzales has had a nice season and deserves some votes, LA wouldn’t be back in the race without Puig.

Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon is a douchebag.  He thinks it’s a joke that Puig could be in the all-star game after just a month in the majors.  I guess Papelbon was in the clubhouse eating fried chicken last weekend when Puig and the Dodgers beat the crap out of his ball club.  By the way, in a month and half, Puig has played about 7 times the amount of innings Papelbon has.  Too bad Papelbon can’t even pronounce Yasiel Puig’s name right.

The Halos are creeping up in the AL Wild card standings as well.  After taking two of three against Boston, the Angels are now just 5.5 games back in the wild card race.  Mike Trout is rolling, and Josh Hamilton finally looked good with a big walk off home run on Saturday night.  This feels terribly similar to last seasons rally after a slow start, only to fade at the end of the year.

Really tough blow for the LA Kings this weekend, as they lost free agent defenseman Rob Scuderi.  Scuderi signed with his former team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and sighted family reasons for his decision.  The good news for LA is that they’ll still have one of the best defensive groups in the NHL next year because Willie Mitchell appears to be healthy after sitting out the year with knee trouble.  Meanwhile, the Ducks make a crafty move, trading Bobby Ryan to the Senators for the equally productive, less expensive, and less whiny Jacob Silfverberg.

So who is looking forward to the World Cup in Brazil in 2014?  Over the weekend, in a Brazilian soccer match, referee Jordan Silva pulled a red card on Josenir Santo Abreu, ejecting him from the game.  The confrontation between the two escalated, and eventually Silva stabbed Abreu in the chest with a knife.  Abreu died on the way to the hospital, and the referee was stoned to death and dismembered back at the field.  What color card does that get?  The World Cup should go really well.

Every 4th of July, I find myself falling out of my chair laughing at the Nathan’s Hot Dog eating contest on Coney Island.  Joey Chestnut won his 7th hot dog eating contest, by slamming a world record 69 hot dogs in 10 minutes.  Dude, when I eat 1 hot dog, I consider having a 2nd one, and then after I do, I know it was a terrible decision.  I can’t even imagine trying to slam 69 of them.  Since 2008, Chestnut has actually eaten 380 hot dogs, while over the same stretch, the Houston Astros have only won 377 games.

Finally, has anybody actually stopped and watched the SyFy Channel?  The entire channel has to consist of some of the most terrible movies of all time that never made it to theatre.  We’re talking garbage like Lake Placid 2, Anaconda 3, and those dumb Shark movies that try to copy Jaws.  These things definitely need some celebrity drunken commentary to make them watchable.