Monthly Archives: March 2015

Monday Morning Coffee

Powell consoled

March 30th, 2015

It was only a matter of time.  The UCLA Bruins finally ran into a quality opponent in the NCAA Tournament, and were exposed.  This time it was Gonzaga in the Sweet 16, a round of the tournament that Steve Alford has never been able get through.  That was an ugly basketball game, but the difference was the Bruins were just overmatched in the paint.  Gonzaga had more depth, and better coaching.  The Bruin players showed character, but had their game plan been better, they might have actually beaten the Zags.  Many will say the Bruins have a bright future, with a lot more depth coming back next season.  However, I say otherwise.  In year 3 of Steve Alford, when he finally has all his own recruits in place, everyone should see who this guy really is.  An average coach that will only take a great program so far.  The UCLA basketball program deserves better.

The Notre Dame vs Kentucky game was a tragedy.  The Irish should have won that game.  Mike Brey is a great coach, who executed a brilliant game plan up until the last few minutes.  The Irish were killing Kentucky on the pick and roll.  Instead of sticking with that, on the last three possessions they let Jerian Grant play hero ball.  Even more puzzling was the fact they refused to double team Kentucky big man Karl Anthony-Towns, who was the only guy scoring for the Wildcats.  Every time he touched the ball, it was like watching a grown man score over a 1st grader.  The one time they did double team him, Kentucky actually turned it over.  I’m sure John Calipari threatened to take away the cars and phones he got his players if they didn’t come back and win.  Apparently it worked.  Kentucky is everything wrong with college basketball and Notre Dame is everything right with it.  Too bad the good guys didn’t come away with the win.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin has caused more suffering for the University of Arizona in the last two years than STD’s.  What was Sean Miller thinking in the last minute?  He’s down by 5 with no timeouts left, and he decided not to foul.  The Badgers have the size to bother Kentucky, but I still think Kentucky is going to win the next two games easily.  Funny how six weeks ago, everybody thought Michigan State was horrible.  Now they are in the Final Four.

On to the NBA, where the Lakers have some disturbingly winnable games left on their schedule over the next 10 games.  These include games with Philadelphia, Minnesota, and a couple with Sacramento.  This means the Lakers could come dangerously close to not having one of the five worst records in the NBA, and potentially losing their 1st round draft pick.  The Lakers are actually getting so uncomfortable about losing the pick that they’ve started benching some of their veterans like Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill.  That probably should have happened ages ago.  ESPN also came out with an article on Jeremy Lin a few days ago, explaining how he simply does not fit in with the Lakers, with or without Kobe Bryant.  The article also pointed out that Jeremy’s friends believe that he’s a better player without Kobe.  I’m sure there’s no bias there at all.  When you consider that Jeremy has played in twice as many games as Kobe this year, it makes his performance that much more disappointing, and highly unlikely he will be a Laker next year.  I assume none of Jeremy’s friends that believe he’s better without Kobe were smart enough to go to Harvard.

As for the Clippers, they’ve hit another soft spot in their schedule, allowing them to win 6 in a row.  At the moment, they look like their headed for a 1st round matchup with the Blazers.  That could be winnable, but I don’t suspect the Clipps last too much longer in the post-season.  That leads to the question of not whether or not they should re-sign DeAndre Jordan, but whether or not they need to make a major trade to try and become a real championship contender.  Which makes me wonder if the Clippers and Thunder might entertain a Blake Griffin for Kevin Durant trade this summer.  DeAndre Jordan played remarkably well without Blake in the lineup, and the Clippers badly need a small forward.  The Thunder are going to start asking Kevin Durant if he intends to stick around after next season.  No matter what Sam Presti says, he would absolutely trade Durant if he thinks he’s going to leave.  That guy would trade his own mother if he got value out of it.  Getting Blake Griffin in return sounds like a pretty good haul.  It’s a situation complicated by Durant’s foot injury, but one to keep an eye on if both teams make an early playoff exit.


To baseball, where we are just a week away from the start of the season.  The Dodgers just made another head-scratching move.  They spent $62.5 million on Cuban infielder Hector Olivera, who has had issues with his UCL.  To come to think of it, this makes perfect sense.  The Dodgers signed two pitchers this off-season, whose arms are about to fall off, and who haven’t even thrown 100 innings in recent memory.   Now they’ve added a 2nd baseman whose arm might also fall off soon.  At this point, I’m not expecting LA  to try to re-sign Howie Kendrick, Juan Uribe, or Jimmy Rollins after the season.  Instead, they’ll have a largely unproven infield, and one that seems pretty expensive for that inexperience.  I wonder how much the Dodgers would have spent on Olivera if they actually had a deal to distribute SportsNet LA .

The Angels might have some decisions to make once the Josh Hamilton situation gets resolved.  If and when Hamilton is re-instated, the Halos will have to decide what kind of role he will have.  I realize they have both Matt Joyce and Collin Cowgill as an insurance policy, but the reality of it is that Hamilton is still under contract for 3 more years, at a hefty $25 million or so annually.  He’s not going anywhere, and it would be foolish to not at least give the guy a chance to show he can still be a valuable contributor.  If Hamilton could become even 70% of the player he used to be, that could put the Angels over the top and into serious championship contention.  The fans probably wouldn’t hate Josh Hamilton as much either.

I’m not sure if the LA Kings are going to make the playoffs, but you can count on sweating it out until the last game of the season to find out.  The King loss to Minnesota on Saturday wasn’t disastrous, but it was a golden opportunity missed to put a strangle hold on a playoff spot.  If LA misses the playoffs, most will say it’s because of Stanley Cup fatigue.  If they make the playoffs, I might miss them due to the fatigue they made me endure!

What a wild season finale of The Walking Dead last night on AMC.  Can’t every episode be 90 minutes?  Spoiler alert if you have yet to see it.  Here’s a quick recap.  The episode opens with Morgan getting cornered in the woods by two members of “The Wolves” who seem to be shows next villains.  These guys have a “W” symbol on their forehead, but before they could take Morgan’s things and kill him, he takes them out like he’s Donatello from the Ninja Turtles.  Aaron and Darryl stumble upon a food truck, which is too good to be true.  They open up the truck, and are ambushed by a bunch of walkers.  Moments from going out in a blaze of glory, Morgan shows up and saves them.  Soon after, Darryl realizes the connection between Morgan and Rick when he sees the note he wrote Rick on a map.  He then invites Morgan to Alexandria.  Nicholas takes a walk outside the wall, and Glenn follows him, but ends up getting shot in the shoulder by Nicholas.  In the end, it didn’t workout so well for Nicholas, as Glenn threatens to kill him, but spares his life.  Meanwhile, Father Gabriel leaves the gate open and lets walkers in, and then manipulates Sasha into trying to  kill him.  However, Maggie intervenes before that happens.  Finally, Pete tries to confront Rick with a sword, and while Deanna’s husband tries to calm him down, he slits his throat and kills him.  Deanna then orders Rick to kill Pete, which he does by shooting him.  In the final moments, Darryl, Morgan, and Aaron appear, and they look shocked to see what Rick had done.

This was an explosive season finale.  For the entire episode, we knew somebody was going to die, and I thought it was going to be Glenn.  Then we’re reminded that Glenn was tough as nails, and that it wasn’t his time to go.  This episode raised a number of questions, which are going to make things very interesting in the fall.  Why was Morgan so determined to find Rick?  What’s the deal with the Wolves? I’m assuming they will be the show’s new major villain.  Why was Nicholas out in the woods in the first place?  I’m thinking he might actually be part of the Wolves, or connected to one of the exiled members of Alexandria.  It can’t be the last we’ve seen of this dude.  Morgan had to have been shocked at what he just witnessed.  He was looking for the man Rick used to be.  Not the man Rick is now.  I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of him in the next season.  Gotta love how Rick didn’t even think twice about killing Pete when he was asked to.  It just goes to show you how much he’s changed since the show started.  Father Gabriel is such a punk, and needs to go.  Unfortunately, I think he’s sticking around for a while.  I already can’t wait until the next season starts, but looks like we’ll need “Fear The Walking Dead” this summer to hold us over until the show returns for season 6.







Monday Morning Coffee

Powell Jam

March 23rd, 2015

How predictable this was.  The UCLA Bruins basketball program is stuck in Sweet 16 purgatory forever.  UCLA lucked out and was given an at-large birth in the tourney.  Then they lucked out and defeated SMU on a miraculous goaltending call, which should not have been goaltending in my opinion.  The luck continued when they played UAB in the 2nd round, whom they had already beaten this season.  Here they are once again, in the Sweet 16, where they are going to get exposed.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the Bruins and hope they somehow keep this going, but I’m just not convinced that Steve Alford is doing this with any more than smoke and mirrors.  I sure wish I could have been in the Bruins huddle before that last play against SMU.  “Ok guys, everybody get the hell out of the way and give the damn ball to my son.  He’s going to shoot this 30 footer with two guys in his face.”  Great play call Coach Alford.  I think that was the worst shot in basketball I’ve ever seen.  Here’s to hoping the Bruins somehow keep the winning going, except that means more Alford and more mediocrity, just like the Steve Lavin era.

One of the things that has really been bothering me about UCLA basketball is the fact that the basketball alums have distanced themselves so much after they left.  A lot of that has to do with Ben Howland, and how much players disliked playing for him.  Why does Kevin Love rarely even speak about his time at UCLA, let alone show up at any games?  Why hasn’t there been a night honoring Russell Westbrook given how much he still loves Southern California?  The Bruins should have a night honoring him, and it should be “Russell Westbrook Fashion Night”, where all the fans dress up in his nerdy clothing line.  The program should be operating like Duke, North Carolina, and Kentucky.  Not some glorified mid major.

How bad is your bracket looking right about now?  The person ranked #1 in your pool is probably the girl who picked winners according to the schools with the cutest mascot.  The person ranked #2 is the 8th bracket of a guy who made 10.  Your mom is right around 40th, and you must be 41st.  College basketball is so screwed up because of the one and done.  The mid-major teams with players who have played together for 3 or 4 years are better prepared to knock off the talented but inexperienced teams with higher seeds from power conferences.  Still, the Sweet 16 is going to have some of the household names we are used to: UCLA, Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State,  North Carolina, and Arizona.  I still don’t think anybody is beating Kentucky.  Jahlil Okafur was phenomenal yesterday and is going to be a great pro.  SDSU is a great defensive team, but that was a terrible matchup.  If the Aztecs and Virginia played horse, they would need all weekend to complete the game.  Tom Izzo and Michigan State do more damage in March than college kids do during spring break in Cancun.  Stupid shot selection by UC Irvine against Louisville at the end of the game, or they would have pulled off the upset.  Kansas chokes again in March, a tradition unlike any other.  Here’s a look at my bracket…..


Oh and this happened too during the first weekend of the tournament………

It would be way too easy to start firing off jokes about Steve Nash after he announced his retirement yesterday.  However, the reality is that at the time, the Lakers made the right move by trying to acquire Steve Nash for two 1st round picks and two 2nd round picks from the Suns.  Nash was still a very effective player, and it was simply a freak injury against Portland in his 2nd game that forever messed him up.  The Lakers had a chance to win a title with Kobe, Pau, Dwight Howard, and Nash a few years ago.  Had they hired the right coach, it might have actually happened, and that Nash trade would have worked out.  Nevertheless, Nash is still a great player, one of the ten best point guards ever, and a stand-up dude.  Oh by the way, the Celtics, Rockets, Spurs, Suns, and Kings are planning a ceremony for Nash to honor him for the destruction of the Lakers.

As for the Lakers themselves, I actually had a pair of tickets to the game vs the Sixers last night.  I had been trying for weeks to get rid of those tickets.  When I asked people if they wanted them, the response I got included “do you really hate me that much?”, and “you’re going to pay me to go watch that game right?”

The Clippers won their 4th in a row last night to move back into the 5th spot in the West.  Blake Griffin is looking healthy again, but the Clipps may be not have home court during the playoffs as the 5th seed.  Most of the players say it isn’t a big deal because it really comes down to matchups. However, I don’t agree.  The Warriors, Blazers, and Grizzlies are all excellent on their home court, and LA will likely have to go through these teams if they plan on doing anything of significance in the playoffs.

On to baseball, where the Dodgers got a big scare a few days ago when Clayton Kershaw took a line drive off the side of his mouth, but fortunately, he just needed a little dental work.  We’re only a couple of weeks away from the start of the season, and LA is still looking to trade Andre Ethier.  I get that Joc Pederson has had a great spring, but I want to see what he looks like on an everyday basis in centerfield before trading away Ethier.  If you remember correctly, Pederson had a nice spring last year, but couldn’t hit anything in the short time we saw him in the big leagues during the season.  Besides, Ethier has still been productive this spring, so let him get his trade value up before just eating his contract in a trade.

I’m telling you, the Kings are screwed.  The magic runs out at some point, and I think this is it.  Another home game against Vancouver on Saturday, desperately needing a win, and again, they only come up with 1 goal.  It’s gotten so bad that they are actually calling Mike Richards back up, expecting him to solve their offensive problems.  The same Mike Richards that has had trouble scoring for a while.  This road trip against the Devils, Rangers, Islanders, and Wild is going to be the death of LA’s season.  When you sleep walk through games in December, eventually, it comes back to bit you in April, when you have no margin left for error.

And finally, things got wild on The Walking Dead last night.  Spoiler alert if you haven’t seen it yet.  Here’s a quick recap.  Carol starts off by leaving a Casserole on the Monroe’s doorstep and a sympathy note following Aiden’s death.  Deanna burns the note, clearly influenced by what Father Gabriel told her last week.  Carol continued to urge Rick to step in and stop Pete from abusing Jessie.  Meanwhile, Sasha just keeps taking her anger out on Walkers in the woods.  Michonne tracks her down, and memories of her own are triggered, and she goes crazy on the Walkers too.  Carl and Enid have their own romantic moment hiding in a tree from a herd of Walkers.  Rick confronts Deanna about Pete, but Deanna says under no circumstances will he be killed, just exiled.  Rick disagrees.  Rick then confronts Jessie, and at first she suggests that she shouldn’t make this his business, but then opens up.  Eventually, she agrees to protection from Rick.  Pete then confronts Rick and Jessie, and a brawl erupts between Rick and Pete.  After the fight ends up in the street with everyone watching, a bloodied Rick is urged to stop by Deanna.  Rick tells everyone that “their way” is going to get everyone killed and destroy Alexandria.  Rick is then knocked unconscious by Michonne, as the episode comes to an end.

This episode was a wild one.  Rick has lost his mind and become psychotic again.  Rick wants to take over Alexandria and do things his way.  However, things are getting messy.  He needs to be more like Carol.  She plays things way closer to the vest, and gets things done by operating under the radar.  If this were a poker game, Rick would be telling everybody exactly what his cards are.  He should have taken a more discreet approach to the situation, and he would have gotten exactly what he wanted.  My guess is that Michonne knocked out Rick to buy time, and prevent the situation from further escalating at that moment.  I doubt she turned on him.  i don’t trust Enid, and I don’t buy that she and Carl are having some innocent teenage romance.  Something tells me she’s got some other intentions.   There were too many characters that had story lines going on in this episode, which made every story line lacking a little depth.   Sasha is going ape shit.  She’s going to get herself killed at some point.  I fully expect a death or two in the season finale next week.  Feels weird to say looking forward to it after making that statement, but should be a great finish to the season.

The Walking Dead





Monday Morning Coffee

Bruins Sneak in

March 16th, 2015

I nearly fell out of my chair.  I was shocked.  The Bruins somehow got into the NCAA Tournament with an at-large bid yesterday.  Just about everybody thought they were one of the first four out.  It wasn’t even that close.  They were in, and not even among the last four teams in.  They didn’t deserve it either.  The selection committee had to have valued the brand name of UCLA over all the other mid-majors.  John Wooden is still working his magic.  UCLA was just 2-8 against the top 50, and 1-7 against the top 25.  They played one of their best games of the season against Arizona on Friday, but lost.  That game truly symbolized just how badly the Bruins are coached.  UCLA has two solid big men in Thomas Welsh and Gyorgy Goloman, but Steve Alford never utilizes them.  Freshman forward Kevin Looney is one of the best freshman in the country, yet Alford barely got him involved in the most critical game of the season.  In fact, Bryce Alford and Norman Powell have taken a combined 500 more shots than him all season!  There were 36 at-large bids given out.  There aren’t 36 teams in the country with more talent than the Bruins.  That’s definitely something the selection committee believed.  However, in the long run, UCLA was probably better off missing the tourney and putting Steve Alford on the hot seat.

Before I get into the rest of the bracket, I have to mention USC.  For the last two seasons, the Trojan basketball team has finished dead last in the Pac-12 standings.  When Andy Enfield was brought in to coach this team, many thought he was going to bring showtime basketball back to LA.  Instead, he’s only driven this team into complete irrelevance in the Los Angeles sports landscape.  While I realize that USC is a football school, Trojan fans should find this to be completely unacceptable.  UCLA is considered a basketball school, but they expect a certain amount of competitiveness from their football team.  The Trojan alumni should demand no less from their basketball team.  This program also has phenomenal athletic facilities that are relatively new, so they should be far more competitive recruiting in a basketball hot bed like Southern California.  I guess Trojan fans can only focus on one mediocre aspect of their athletic program at a time.

As for the rest of the NCAA Tournament bracket, I don’t really know why we are wasting our time playing this thing.  We all know that Kentucky is going to win it all, and sleep walk while doing it.  So that’s how the selection committee rewards Notre Dame for winning the ACC tournament:  a #3 seed in the same region as Kentucky.  Notre Dame is so well coached, but when it comes to the tourney, there is less time to prepare, so that goes out the window.  Can’t say I’d be shocked if they were upset during the first weekend.  The committee got 3  #1 seeds right, however, Arizona won their conference and Duke didn’t.  Arizona should be a #1.  I’m looking forward to their showdown with Wisconsin in the Elite 8.  I’m still not sure how you can look at UCLA’s resume next to Colorado State’s, Miami’s, or Temple’s, and pick UCLA.  The committee loves good story lines though, and the Bruins, Indiana, and Texas all help contribute to that.  I won’t be surprised if any of them make it past the first weekend too.  SDSU got a tough draw in St. John’s and having to go through Duke.  And congratulations to the UC Irvine Anteaters!  They are going dancing for the first time, and will take on Louisville.

Wow, I really didn’t realize how much I missed Bill Walton after all this time.  He was basically exiled to the Pac-12 Network to cover college basketball, so many of us don’t hear much from him.  I wonder if he even listens to the things that come out of his mouth?  On Friday’s UCLA vs Arizona telecast, he kept babbling on about the importance of the game for UCLA as an inspiration for little kids who aspire to go to UCLA.  What the hell is he talking about?  I don’t think a 10 year old that is watching Bryce Alford chuck up bricks is going to have much inspiration watching Bruin basketball. They need to put Walton on the Golf Channel, or even on the Masters telecast to liven up the game.  That sport is definitely going to need some absurd commentary to keep interest alive.

I was very saddened to hear about the death of Los Angeles talk show host Joe McDonnell on Friday.  McDonnell was one of my favorite talk show hosts to listen to growing up, and you always felt like he was a very reliable source.  He was so plugged in with the Lakers, Dodgers, Angels, and other LA sports team.  He was controversial, but so well respected in the media, and within the  local organizations.  Even Mitch Kupchak and Mike Scioscia were saddened by his passing, and spoke about him over the weekend.  I found him to be very inspirational growing up, and his passion for the SoCal sports scene could always be felt in his work.  That is a big part of the reason why Jock Talk LA exists today.  RIP Big Joe.

Joe McDonell

The NFL offseason has been more wild than spring break in Cabo.  With LeSean McCoy, Sammy Watkins, and Percy Harvin, the Bills now believe they have the speed to chase down all those people that pick off Matt Cassel.  The Jets theory is that if they can acquire enough cornerbacks, there won’t be any left to intercept Geno Smith’s passes.  The Raiders signed Christian Ponder, who is expected to take over Matt Schaub’s clipboard holding duties.  I’m keeping a very close eye out on the Adrian Peterson situation.  Peterson really wants a trade.  One of the teams he wants a trade to is the Chargers.  There have been rumors out of there of an Eric Weddle for Adrian Peterson swap.  Can you imagine if the Bolts can get some star power like that on their team, at a position of need like running back?  More importantly, it would be perfect to acquire a star player if they are really moving to LA.  Los Angeles is a star studded town, and AP can fit perfectly into that.  Here’s hoping that trade comes to fruition.

We are getting closer and closer to the start of the MLB season, and Time Warner still hasn’t made a deal with regional cable networks to televise the Dodgers SportsNet LA channel.  Rumor has it that TWC is coming back to the bargaining table with several regional cable providers to try and get a deal done before the start of the season.  However, I don’t see why TWC doesn’t create an HBO like model, where they just sell directly to the consumer over the internet.  Who wouldn’t pay between $20-$30 per month to watch the Dodger games over the internet?  I’m sure this would put a lot of money back into TWC’s pockets for the losses they suffered on the channel last year, and would also give them a great deal of leverage in talks with other cable networks moving forward.  Consumer demands are changing, and TWC has a chance to get ahead of the curve and take advantage of it, while also giving the fans the chance to watch the Dodgers again.

I had the privilege of attending the Lakers open house last week for season ticket holders, and I got to listen to Mitch Kupchak and Byron Scott field questions from a group of disgruntled fans.  I must say that i’m impressed they took the questions without any of them being pre-screened.  More than anything, the impression I came away with from listening to Mitch is that they aren’t going to rush into any moves that will be short-term gains, and jeopardize the long-term growth of the team.  That means players like Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson will probably be Lakers for a while, and they’ll try to add free agent veterans around them.  This is a very different approach from what Phil Jackson says he is planning to do with the Knicks.  Phil said that he is focused mostly on free agents, and last week indicated that he didn’t like the idea of waiting around 3 years for a draft pick to develop.  I like Phil, and wanted him back with the Lakers at one point, but something tells me his front office track record is going to be nothing like his coaching record.

I’m not going to make too big of a deal about what we saw from the Clippers yesterday against Houston.  Blake Griffin had his first game back and was completely out of rhythm, which was to be expected.  However, the Clippers complain on literally every single call against them, and I think it’s starting to make the NBA referees despise them.  After one call yesterday, Blake looked more stunned than Sly Stallone did after dropping his buddy’s girlfriend at the beginning of Cliffhanger.  This is just one of many issues the Clipps are going to have to sort out over the next month before the playoffs start.

And finally, another episode of The Walking Dead went down last night on AMC.  Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see it.  Here’s a quick recap:  We had a death so stop reading if you intend to watch it later!  Noah died, and it was a gruesome death at the hands of Walkers, but the people of Alexandria got him killed on their quest to restore power in the community.  Tara is badly injured on the quest, and Aiden is killed by Walkers, but not before revealing the people of Alexandria are all about themselves.  Meanwhile, Carol, a former victim of abuse, recognizes that Jessie’s son, Sam, is a victim of abuse.  Sam asks her for a gun and she refuses.   Carol tries to go over to Jessie’s house, but Pete tells her it’s not a good time, and closes the door in her face. She later tells Rick what’s going on, and that he is going to have to kill Pete.  Interestingly enough, Rick and Pete had an awkward encounter of their own, with Pete claiming that “we’ve lost things.  Other things we’re fighting like hell to hold on to.”  Father Gabriel also ratted out Rick’s entire group to Deanna, claiming that she made a mistake letting them in, and eventually they will choose their own lives over everyone else’s.  Maggie overhears this in the other room and is disappointed.

The writers of The Walking Dead might as well be the Ferguson Police Department with the way they treat black characters.  Another one ended up dead, this time it was Noah.  It felt like we became so desensitized to the deaths by Walkers in the show, however, this episode had some really gruesome deaths that were tough to watch.  Noah wasn’t around long, but in the short time he was on the show, I grew very fond of him.  As for Father Gabriel, leave it to the hypocritical religious guy to throw the entire group under the bus.  How many deaths was Father Gabriel responsible for when he left all those people in the church to die?  And now he has the audacity to blame Rick and his group for killing all those truly evil people, when the group saved him countless times?  Unbelievable.  More than anything, we learned that the people of Alexandria are a bunch of cowards, and only look out for themselves.  Heck, Father Gabriel fits right in with this group because of that.  On the other hand, Eugene finally showed some courage by helping Tara after her head injury.  It’s inevitable there’s going to be another couple of deaths before the season ends, and one of them will likely be Pete.  This Alexandria thing is starting to make sense now.  The people are just weak.

Carol Badass





Monday Morning Coffee

Clarkson takes flight

March 9th, 2015

The last 3 months of watching Laker basketball has made me realize something.  No, not that watching them has made me more noxious than ever.  But rather, why would they want to sign an expensive veteran point guard this off-season?  Jordan Clarkson is showing he’s not only a solid NBA player, but might even have some star potential down the road.  Since the all-star break, Clarkson has averaged 15.6 ppg, while shooting 53% from the field, along with 4.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds.  He’s only 22 years old, and he’s under contract next year for $845 K.  Goran Dragic would cost the Lakers $20 million a year, and his next contract will take him into his 30’s.  Rajon Rondo is in decline and is moodier than a teenag girl on her period.  Signing one of these guys will only take away from Clarkson’s development.  The Lakers have plenty of needs, but a starting point guard is no longer one of them.

Meanwhile, the Clippers took another beating from the Golden State Warriors yesterday at Oracle. The Warriors are fun to watch, and at this point, the Clipps better hope they don’t run into them in the playoffs.  More than anything, the Clipps were exposed yesterday on the perimeter, the one area that Doc Rivers has managed to deplete over the last few months.  With or without Blake Griffin, the Clipps don’t have enough talent on the perimeter to keep up with teams like Golden State, Portland, or even San Antonio when they are firing on all cylinders.  Speaking of Portland, DeAndre Jordan’s brain went off about the same time the shot clock did the other night against the Blazers.  All he had to do was lay it in, and his team would have another win.  The Clipps were so desperate for bench help that they resorted to signing Nate Robinson to a 10 day contract last week.  They’ve done a decent job treading water without Blake Griffin in the lineup, but this team is still destined to get bounced in the 1st round or two of the playoffs.  Steph Curry was just nasty yesterday…..

There’s something completely screwy about this whole Chargers-Raiders stadium plan in Carson.  The NFL is interested in two teams playing in LA, but it doesn’t really make economic sense to put two teams in LA.  Aren’t each of them worth more in separate markets, and having monopolies on that market?  Putting them in the same market, let alone the same stadium, makes little sense for a market that previously couldn’t support two teams.  There’s also the logistical issues of having two AFC West teams playing in the same stadium, which would mean both teams would have 9 home games, and Fox and CBS would have a TV issue in the LA market given their respective commitments to the NFC and AFC.  The Chargers also leaked a vague rumor that Goldman Sachs would be willing to help finance their move, even if short-term losses were incurred.  The Raiders have been awfully quiet during this whole ordeal.  This all still sounds like public pressure put on the cities of San Diego and Oakland to get something done.

As for NFL free agency, what’s going on here?  The Bills traded for stud running back LeSean McCoy by sending out lineback Kiko Alonso, and then signed Matt Cassel the next day.  That’s like buying a yacht and then announcing that Jihadi John will be the captain.  Meanwhile, Chip Kelly is a lunatic who for some reason, is dismantling a 10 win team to recreate his Oregon team that didn’t win anything.  He also signed Frank Gore, because he once watched Oregon play for 5 minutes, and Byron Maxwell, because he found Oregon on a map.  Elsewhere, the Jets and Dolphins just added expensive toys in Brandon Marshall and Ndamukong Suh, but probably will never get anywhere without QB’s.  Suh needed a bigger contract to cover all the fines he will be receiving next season.  Marshawn Lynch is also now the highest paid running back not to get the ball at the 1 yd line.

Are you ready for March Madness?  The Bruins are going to be ready for the NIT in a few days.  UCLA is likely going to have to go through Stanford, Arizona, and then Utah in the Pac-12 Tournament.  They’ll also need to win at least two games to have a reasonable shot at going to the NCAA Tournament.  The chances of that happening are about as likely as me dating Mila Kunis.  As for the rest of the field, I don’t see how anybody beats Kentucky.  These guys keep winning games, and they look more and more relaxed with every game that passes.  I also love the notion that they should lose a game to better prepare them for the NCAA Tournament.  Give me break.  They have been in close games and have found a way to finish them.  That’s more important than losing a game.  They have a chance to make history, and it would be a pleasure to witness it.

That was an awesome ceremony outside Staples Center on Saturday night, where the Luc Robitaille statue was unveiled.  Robitaille is easily the most popular player in Kings history, and the fact that greats like Jerry West, Wayne Gretzky, and Mario Lemieux showed up tells you just how great he was as a player.  On the ice however, the Kings making the playoffs is anything but a sure thing.  LA lost a devastating overtime game on Saturday to the Penguins, after shutting down some of the most talented players in the game all night, like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.  However, one little mistake killed them, and hurt them in the standings.  The teams in front of the Kings keep winning, and LA’s margin for error has never been slimmer.  The reality of it is, the Kings are a very good team, that just might not be good enough to make the playoffs.  No matter what kind of obstacles the Kings have overcome in the past, at some point, the magic runs out.  In any case, the statue looks awesome.

Robitaille Statue

Here comes more public pressure on the Dodgers for not having Sportsnet LA on DirecTV, or other cable distributors.  LA Times writer Bill Plaschke came up with a suggestion, which was to sell about 25 games to a local network so fans could watch games, until this fiasco was over.  That would at least demonstrate that the Dodgers are acting in good faith towards all the fans through this difficult time.  Interestingly enough, Stan Kasten was not available for comment.  That is also something that the Yankees and Giants do, despite the fact they have their own separate cable networks or cable agreements.  This would be a nice gesture, but ultimately, the Dodgers have to get this thing resolved with DirecTV, and lock themselves in a room until they figure it out.  That doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime soon, which pains me, since I am a very unhappy Time Warner Cable customer.  I’m also one of many unhappy Dodger fans too.

On to last night’s episode of The Walking Dead.  Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see it yet.  Here’s a quick recap.  The group further settles in to Alexandria, some much more easily than others.  Sasha struggles the hardest, starting out by taking target practice in the wild to let out her frustration, and later on had an emotional breakdown at a weird cocktail party.  There, she yelled at a friendly foodie for not worrying about the right things in the world they now live in.  Darryl went on a rabbit hunt with Aaron, they kill some zombies, and apparently are best buds now.  Darryl then agrees to become a recruiter for Alexandria.  Michonne hangs up her sword, reluctantly, despite her desire to settle down.  Glenn convinces Noah to come to the weird cocktail party, arguing they are all in this together.  Abraham gets drunk.  Rick gets a little tipsy himself at the party, and gives Jessie a meaningful peck on the cheek.  He also accepts Carols’ offer to remain armed.  Carol goes from swapping recipes with the girls to sneaking into the supply shack to get some guns.  She’s caught by Jessie’s son, and threatens him if he tells anyone that he has seen her.

This episode is a major reminder of one thing: Carol is a badass.  She is not to be messed with.  Just when you think she’s gone soft by swapping recipes, she reminds you how tough she really has become, and has not forgotten her true identity.  I have a feeling that at some point however, Jessie’s son will tell on her.  Rick is definitely on his way to an affair with Jessie.  But doesn’t the show need that?  We haven’t really had one of those since season 1 when Shane was around.  Ok seriously…..what happened to Father Gabriel?  Nobody even mentions the guy.  Maybe he’s the one that stole the gun from the blender that Rick left it in during the last episode.  Ultimately, this episode represented somewhat of a fantasy land for the characters.  For Rick it was seeing a place his kids can be safe and getting attention from another woman.  For Darryl it was a motorcycle in pieces.  For Abraham it was a bunch of booze.  The characters are now enjoying civilization, but it comes with a price.  That price is cutting into who they have become.  Sasha and Carol are the only ones that have grasped this thus far.  It’s probably only a matter of time before the others do as well.

Sasha Walking Dead



Monday Morning Coffee

March 2nd, 2015

Hopefully you all got the chance to see Kobe Bryant’s Muse debut on Showtime this weekend.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but the whole thing was really fascinating.  Everyone knows how obsessively competitive he is, which is one of the biggest reasons he is compared to Michael Jordan.  However, what I didn’t know was how much he loves to engage himself in the process of building to achieve that end result of winning.  That’s very Phil Jackson like too.  I also found it interesting how he developed anger and resentment from moving around so much as a kid, and then channeled that anger into dominance on the basketball court.  He took that anger to a new level during his legal troubles in 2004 and found even greater motivation in that.  More than anything, I love how Kobe gets it.  He understands the NBA and Laker history that came before him, what it means to be a part of it, and the importance of striving for greatness.  As a Laker fan, you couldn’t be more proud and privileged to have a professional like that on your squad.

On the other hand, Laker fans can’t be too proud of what they are seeing on the floor.  It isn’t just that they stink.  It’s that they might not be stinking enough to keep this years 1st round draft pick.  LA had won 3 in a row before losing to shorthanded OKC yesterday at Staples, and still continues to rack up meaningless wins that are costing them their future.  Teams like Philadelphia, New York, and Minnesota are taking tanking much more seriously.  As if that’s not bad enough, we have to actually watch clowns like Jeremy Lin, Nick Young, Jordan Hill, and Carlos Boozer act like they won the NBA title after beating the Celtics.  It’s ok to feel good about a win against Boston, but the way these guys were acting makes you realize that they have never really been on any good teams throughout their careers.  I think Kobe’s reaction sums it up…..

What the hell is going on here?  The Clippers are now 6-3 without Blake Griffin, including victories of Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Chicago, and Memphis.  DeAndre is beasting on the boards, and CP3 is ballin.  So the Clipps should be contenders when Blake returns right? Nice try.  It’s not about who you play, but rather when you play them.  Dallas is still sorting out their chemistry, San Antonio is sleep walking through the regular season, Houston isn’t elite without Dwight Howard, and Chicago’s whole team is injured.  As good as DeAndre is, he can’t cover up all of the teams defensive flaws, and that is going to be the biggest reason the Clipps will get bounced in the playoffs.  Even Joey Crawford plays better D than the Clippers….

AEG is starting to get desperate.  They can feel an NFL team slipping away from them, as well as their idea for Farmers Field downtown.  AEG is so threatened by Stan Kroenke’s plan to build a stadium in Inglewood, that they actually hired a guy to publish a report on how risky it would be build a stadium near LAX, since it could be subject to a terrorist attack.  Gee…..this doesn’t sound bias at all!  The minute AEG let Tim Leiweke leave for Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment, they lost all their momentum to build a stadium in downtown.  Leiweke was the voice of reason between AEG, the NFL, and other NFL owners.  Without him, Uncle Phil isn’t going to get it done since he wants the stadium on his own terms, not the NFL’s or the relocating team’s.  Now this report looks like Uncle Phil is just throwing sour grapes since he can’t get his way.

See what happens when football isn’t on?  People resort to talking about stupid things like what color a dress is!  Also, don’t be surprised if the Washington Redskins trade 3 1st round picks for the white Llama that was on the loose in Phoenix last week….

A pair of victories over the Washington schools did nothing for the UCLA basketball team last week.  Had the Bruins lost either of those games, that would have punched their ticket to the NIT, which we all know really stands for “Not In The Tournament”.  According to USA Today and CBS, the Bruins will be among the first four teams out.  ESPN predicts the Bruins will be among the last four in.  As a fan, I’m a little torn here.  If the Bruins were to make the tournament, that only further secures Steve Alford’s job as head coach, which is ultimately a huge problem for the program.  However, a March Madness without UCLA basketball is far less entertaining, especially for us SoCal college hoops fans.  Since it would take several years of mediocre basketball for Alford to be fired, and since Dan Guerrero would be under fire for creating more coaching turnover, I think I’d like to see a March Madness that involves the Bruins.

On to baseball, where nobody wants to admit it, but it’s true.   The Angels and their fans are happy Josh Hamilton isn’t around the team.  Look, I feel bad for the guy and hope he overcomes his addiction.  However, the Halos are much better off for the time being with Matt Joyce and Colin Cowgill platooning in left, than an unstable and unreliable Hamilton.  The Angels could probably save some money from Major League Baseball suspending him without pay too, which could be used to improve the team at the trade deadline.  The Angels have an A-Rod situation on their hands, and it’s probably going to be on the payroll for the next three years.  Still, for the sake of Hamilton’s own personal well being, hopefully he overcomes this once and for all.

The Dodgers have opened Spring Training as well, and already, Carl Crawford had some interesting things to say.  Crawford was asked about his thoughts on the new Dodgers front office, and frenzy of moves the team made in the off-season.  Keep in mind, Crawford was in Tampa Bay when Andy Friedman was there as well, so one would think he has the utmost confidence in his abilities.  Instead, Crawford just said he isn’t sure if all the moves made the Dodgers a better team and that “we have to see if this team can even get in the playoffs.”  It’s good to see that not only the fans, but the players think that Andy Friedman and his staff have no idea what they are doing.

On the ice, the Kings and Ducks made some significant trade deadline moves in the last few days.  The Kings acquired defenseman Andrej Sekera from the Carolina Hurricanes, while the Ducks picked up winger Tomas Fleischmann from the Panthers.  Since nobody has probably heard of either of these guys because they play in such obscure markets, let me clarify: this made both teams much better.  Sekera can become the #3 defenseman the Kings were missing in the absence of Slava Voynov, and can play in all situations.  Fleischmann will be a much needed winger on the Ducks top line with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.  The Ducks are currently dealing with a ton of injuries but have a huge lead in the division so not much to worry about.  However, the Kings have now lost 3 straight after their 8 game winning streak.  The Kings are a feast or famine team, and right now it feels like they are on a starvation diet.

Another episode of The Walking Dead went down on AMC last night.  Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see it.  Here’s a quick recap.  This group arrives in Alexandria, and for the entire episode, they try to settle in to this new community, while also trying to determine if it is trustworthy.    The community is very insulated from the zombie apocalypse, with flowing water, electricity, and homes furnished by Restoration Hardware.  Rick is introduced to Deanna, the community leader, and a former Ohio congresswoman.  Oddly enough, she tapes interviews with each of the group members, and says to several of them, including Rick, that she has a job for them.  Most of the main characters go through varying disbelief about their new surroundings.  Carol takes to it quickly, and Daryl, not so much.  Rick gets a shower and a shave, and meets some community members.  There’s Jessie, mother of two, who gives him a haircut.  Aiden, an enforcer with a temper.  There’s also a few moody teens who Carl befriends.  By the end of the episode, the group assimilates, and Deanna assigns each of them jobs.  Rick and Michonne are the community constables.  At the end of the episode, Rick dons a police uniform once again, while Carol and Darryl wonder if the community can deal with the harsh realities of the world.  Rick says that if they can’t, then he and his group will take over the place.

Where was Gabriel in this whole episode?  He mysteriously didn’t even appear in the background of any scenes.  There also appeared to be a small church on the Alexandria grounds, which looked extremely familiar, and appeared to be the church that Gabriel visited earlier.  Does Judith ever age, or will she just be a baby forever? Given the events of the past few seasons, it’s hard to believe that this place is really safe.  And even if it is, it’s not strong enough to handle the harsh realities of the zombie world, which several group members suggested.  This point was further emphasized when Carl could not suddenly wrap himself into a world of school, video games, and comic books, and immediately suggested to his dad that this place could make them weak.  I guess they had to step outside and kill a couple of walkers to make sure they weren’t out of practice.  When Deanna suggested that a few members were exiled from the community, that tells me that those community members could exact some revenge on Alexandria.  I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out, but it’s The Walking Dead, disaster is on the way!

TWD Alexandria