Monthly Archives: November 2016

Monday Morning Coffee


November 28th, 2016

The Rams took a beating from the Saints yesterday in New Orleans, and coach Jeff Fisher was right.  He’s not going 7-9, or 8-8, or 9-7, or 10-6 for that matter.  He’s going to go 5-11.  The Rams defense that’s been so good all year long was nowhere to be found.  The Saints don’t exactly have the 1985 Chicago Bears defense, but Jared Goff helped the Rams offense put up more points than the Rams have scored in a month.  The Goff situation is making Fisher look really bad.  Everyone is wondering why he was sitting on the bench for the first 10 weeks of the season.  Had Goff been terrible, everyone would want to burn Fisher and Les Snead at the stake for trading so much for an inept quarterback.  At least it appears the Rams have a QB they can build around, but if we’ve learned anything from the Dallas Cowboys, it’s that elite NFL teams are built with great offensive lines as their foundation.  The Rams don’t have anything close to that, which makes both Goff and Todd Gurley look like scrubs at at times.  This is just how I remember the NFL in LA when I was a kid.

Elsewhere around week 12 in the NFL, you thought for a second the Chargers were going to find a way to blow another 4th quarter lead, but then you realized they were playing against the $72 million bust Brock Osweiler, so they hung on to beat the Texans.  Only the Cleveland Browns could throw a pick six to a guy with only 8 fingers.  Giants took down the Browns and sent them closer to 0-16.  The Ravens topped the Bengals.  Justin Tucker is like Steph Curry from three, while Mike Nugent is like DeAndre Jordan from the free throw line.  The Falcons beat the Cardinals, got a big performance from Taylor Gabriel, and then trolled the Browns on Twitter by thanking them for releasing him earlier in the season.  The Bills beat the Jaguars, who just aren’t very good at football.  Where did the Dolphins come from? They are now 7-4 after beating the 49ers.  I guess the better question is where Jay Ajayi came from.  Matt Barkley threw his first three career touchdown passes in the Bears loss to the Titans.  He’s been in the league since 2013!  The Raiders got by the Panthers for their 9th win of the season, which is funny because Derek Carr probably has only nine fingers left.  Tom Brady got his 200th win as the Pats edged the Jets.  It would take the Browns 200 years to get that many wins.  Russell Wilson didn’t bring his bag of magic tricks this time, and the Bucs handled the Seahawks.      That was one wild Sunday night game, as the Chiefs rallied to beat the Broncos in OT.  I guess the Broncos can shutdown Tom Brady and Aaron Rogers, but can’t find a way to contain Alex Smith.  As for the Thanksgiving day games, Sam Bradford should have been forced to eat Spam for Thanksgiving after the Vikings lost to the Lions.  Thanksgiving just didn’t feel the same without Tony Romo turnovers, but seeing Josh Norman and Dez Bryant talk trash in the Cowboys win over the Redskins made up for it.  There was also Antonio Brown breaking defenders ankles in the Steelers win over the Colts….

To College Football where the Trojans kept rolling on Saturday, this time beating Notre Dame 45-27.  Before I get to the disaster that was my alma matter, let’s talk about USC.  The Trojans just looked like the team that was oozing with talent, and poured it on with some huge plays from Adoree Jackson and Ronald Jones, to go along with another solid performance from Sam Darnold.  Unfortunately for the Trojans, they won’t win the Pac 12 because Colorado defeated Utah, so they won’t even get to play in the Pac 12 Championship game.  That leads to some major “what if” questions we often ask ourselves when talking about College Football.  There’s still a chance USC could play in the Rose Bowl if Washington goes to the College Football Playoff.  Most will say that loss to Utah is what really hurt but even if the Trojans won that game, who is to say they don’t end up having a let down in another conference game?  Ultimately though, USC is arguably playing like the 2nd best team in the country to Alabama (who would still crush them again), but they could certainly beat any of the other College Football Playoff teams.  Frankly, since the committee takes into account injuries to certain teams in their rankings, you could make the argument that they should be in the playoff because they would provide the most competitive games now that they have Sam Darnold under center.  These never ending arguments will only come to an end when they do the right thing and expand the playoff to more than four teams.  I do expect that USC will be playing in one of the six major New Year bowl games though.

As for my Irish, their lackluster performance against USC was predictable, and just the final blow to a a horrendous season on Brian Kelly’s watch.  The Irish have talent on both sides of the ball, but their defensive fundamentals and discipline were absolutely atrocious all season long, which has to fall at the feet of the coaching staff.   Notre Dame defensive tackle  Jerry Tillery made a completely classless move as well, kicking Cedric Ware in the helmet, and then stomping on Zach Banner’s foot.  I was happy to see Kelly chewing him out for that.  While I’m totally disappointed with Kelly’s football product this year, I am still not a believer that he should be fired.  There’s simply nobody out there who can presently be an upgrade over him.  In one year from now, if the Irish struggle, that may not be the case.  Notice that I haven’t even mentioned any of the stupid NCAA rulings that were made earlier in the week, in which the Irish had been asked to vacate their wins from the 2012 and 2013 season.  Ok no problem NCAA.  We’ll just pretend like that embarrassment against Alabama in the championship game from that season never actually happened.  For the most part, Notre Dame hands down way more discipline for its players stupidity than all the other Universities in those football loving, red neck filled towns.  Here’s Kelly chewing out Tillery…..

Some of you may have forgotten that UCLA was still playing football over the weekend as well.  Then again, after seeing that game against Cal, it made me realize that they stopped playing football weeks ago.  Mike Fafaul definitely looked like a walk-on quarterback in this game, and looked more and more like that since his decent first couple of starts.  For years we’ve heard that UCLA has all this talent, and we’ve just heard excuse after excuse during that time.  The Bruins have already said goodbye to their offensive coordinator, Kennedy Polamalu.  Now for the next six months, Jim Mora will consider whether or not he wants to stick with a pro style offense, which usually takes a year before it looks the way you want it, or go another route.  Since Josh Rosen got hurt running that offense with little protection, it makes you wonder what the right decision is.  Either way, Rosen will be on to his third offensive coordinator in three years, which can’t be easy to build consistency with.

That Michigan-Ohio State game was a great finish, but now the playoff polls are really screwed up.  The two best teams in the Big 10 are not only not going to win the Big 10, but not even play for the Big 10 Championship.  A Michigan vs USC Cotton Bowl would be a pretty intriguing matchup.  Alabama is still Alabama.  Clemson looks good, but is likely to get bounced again in the semi-finals.  Very tough loss for Nebraska against Iowa.  To be fair though, nobody that lives in Nebraska or Iowa is a winner.  This guy really wanted to spend some quality time with Miss Arizona…..

Thank god the Lakers got some relief in their schedule yesterday, by playing the Atlanta Hawks, a team without a real franchise player.  The schedule has been unbelievably brutal of late, and the injuries have been piling up at the worst time.  However, somehow LA is still sporting a .500 record.  That’s a tribute to Luke Walton and all the minutes he’s been handing out throughout the roster.  There’s a reason why Thomas Robinson and Jose Calderon can step into the starting lineup in the absence of Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell.  It’s because Luke Walton has given them enough playing time to make sure they are ready.  If the Lakers can get through this horrible part of their schedule by mid-December at around .500, then the playoffs are a realistic goal.  However, Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell need to come back soon, or else those playoff chances will evaporate quickly.  I’m also getting annoyed hearing the ridiculous Phil Jackson rumors again, and about him potentially joining the Laker front office at the end of the season.  The Lakers are finally beginning to turn it around because they have let go of their past, and now they want to cling to it again? Given how out of touch PJ is with modern day basketball since he became an executive, this story needs to die immediately.

Then there’s the Clippers, who have suddenly dropped two straight.  The Clipps have become that guy who tells you every year that he’s going to show up to your party, yet when that party comes he never shows.  This year, everyone seems to be convinced that your friend is coming to the party, because everyone is convinced that the Clippers are at least going to the Western Conference Finals.  However, slowly, the Clippers have been surpassed in the standings by the Warriors and Spurs.  They are reverting back to the same team we’ve seen the last few years that is inconsistent at the defensive end, and a bench that can only rely upon the firepower of Jamal Crawford.  Call me when your friend actually shows up to the party.

To College Hoops where the Bruins put together an impressive performance in the Wooden Legacy Tournament over the holiday weekend.  UCLA put together three wins in four days, including victories over Nebraska and Texas A&M to win the tournament.  Bryce Alford looks much better without the ball in his hands, while Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf continue to make their mark.  The Bruins haven’t been this much fun to watch in years.  However, the most impressive part of the last two wins was the fact UCLA defended and played a slower, grind it out, type of game.  They’ll need that versatility as they continue to play better teams.  Those better teams are coming up with matchups against Kentucky and Michigan over the next two weeks.  The Bruins haven’t been this much fun to watch in years, and according to Lonzo Ball’s dad, they are going to win the National Championship.

The Dodgers have been ordered to reduce their debt by Major League Baseball.  MLB rules state that after an ownership change, a team must comply with the debt service rules within 5 years.  Those rules are that a teams debt must be no more than 12 times annual revenue, minus expenses.  This brings up a few important points.  First of all, it’s going to make it that much more difficult to re-sign Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner this winter.  Second of all, it’s a reminder to all you whiny babies who complain that the team was “too greedy” when it put together its TV deal, when it was just trying to be competitive, while some of you were just too lazy to change your cable provider.  Thirdly, why can’t the MLB order the Dodgers not to blow money on scrubs like Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, and Brett Anderson? Had Friedman and his band of nerds not screwed up there, then maybe the Dodgers would be more like the Cubs, who have no such debt problems and nicely supplemented their youth with quality veterans.  Sure enough it was the Cubs who handled the Dodgers in the postseason, and went on to win the World Series.

Here come the LA Kings.  LA has won 5 in a row, and now they are getting some of their injured players back like Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik.  LA’s defense has been so good, they have made Peter Budaj, a questionable NHL goaltender, look like a very good NHL goaltender.  This team may not be as good as the 2012 team that won the Stanley Cup, but once they get Jonathan Quick back, they are going to be a lot better than we expected.  Then there’s the Ducks who have lost three of their last four.  Ryan Getzlaf actually scored on Saturday to help end their skid.  Getzlaf still scores goals? He’s scored less this season than most married guys do.

Finally, another episode of The Walking Dead went down on AMC last night.  Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see it, so read no further if you plan on watching it later.  Did anybody actually remember that Tara and Heath left the group to go on a supply run?  Also, did anybody really care, or care if they got killed in the process? This episode was ok, but it seems to create an unnecessary additional story arc.  Now we have another community in Oceanside, that was terrorized by the Saviors at one point, and got away after the Saviors killed all their men.  The last five episodes have now created five different arcs in five different communities: The Kingdom, The Saviors, Alexandria, Hilltop, and Oceanside.  That’s a lot of communities, but I fully expect the next two episodes, and potentially the rest of this season, to connect all of these different communities.  I’m one that has said most people are unnecessarily complaining about the show, but for this episode the complaint is valid.  Tara just isn’t interesting enough to make an entire episode about her and Oceanside.  These stories should all be intertwined much earlier within each episode.  This feels somewhat lazy on the part of the writers.  Also, why is Tara so cool regarding Heath’s whereabouts? Doesn’t it seems like he was kidnapped?  Despite this disappointing episode, I’m still looking forward to the final two episodes in 2016.


Monday Morning Coffee


November 21st, 2016

The Jared Goff era began yesterday at the Coliseum but the Rams still couldn’t get back in the win column.  If you like offense, then you probably didn’t like watching this game.  The Rams didn’t exactly look a whole lot better on offense with their rookie QB, but Goff was steady, and showed some signs of potential.  I wish Jeff Fisher would have opened up the playbook and let him throw the ball down the field, rather than spoon feeding him the playbook.  If anything, this game was a reminder of just how inept LA’s offense line and receivers are, and how much work they need to be able to actually become a good team.  That’s really a shame though because the defense is damn good, and defensive tackle Aaron Donald is arguably the best player in football right now.  The Rams  aren’t totally out of the NFC Wild Card chase, but the rest of their schedule is a death trap, starting with road games against the Saints and Patriots.  Knowing this team though, they’ll probably end up beating New England and Seattle while losing all the other games that seem winnable.

Elsewhere around Week 11, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks are elite again, while the Eagles are mediocre again, as Seattle beat dismantled Philly.  No Gronk, but no problem for the Patriots, as they took care of the 49ers.  The Redskins were all over the Packers, and Kirk Cousins is way better at football than most of you thought.  The Steelers beat up on the Browns, and Cleveland is working on asking the NFL if they can forfeit the rest of their games.  The Lions took down the Jaguars and Calvin Johnson is somewhere wondering why Detroit decided to start winning after he retired.  Carson Palmer must think it’s playoff time because he threw a 100 yard pick 6, as the Vikings beat the Cardinals.  The Cowboys won against the Ravens and Tony Romo didn’t get injured.  That’s always an excellent weekend for Dallas.  The Colts were so desperate to beat the Titans that they actually resorted to using the wild cat.  It worked, but I thought that scheme died after Tim Tebow left the NFL.  The Bills topped the Bengals, and AJ Green is now out for the season with a hamstring tear, which virtually ends the Bengal’s season.  The Giants took down the Bears, and now Kristin Cavallari can’t talk shit anymore on everybody that’s talking shit on her husband, Jay Cutler.  The Bucs surprised the Chiefs, and it’s gotta be tough for K.C. to win when their best player is their kicker.  The Saints beat the Panthers on TNF, in a game that couldn’t go five minutes without a player getting injured.  There were five misses on extra points yesterday.  It’s like Blair Walsh was kicking for every team.  This sound guy definitely picked the wrong time to run by the Vikings tunnel….

The Bruins put up a spirited effort against the Trojans on Saturday night, but that lasted about as long as Hillary Clinton’s chances on election night.  USC got another big game from Sam Darnold, and handled UCLA 36-14 at the Rose Bowl.  Despite the early struggles in this game, USC is back to playing like one of the best programs in the country.  In fact, they are playing so well that it would be a shame if Colorado wins next week, and goes to the Pac 12 title game instead of them.  A Rose Bowl appearance against a team like Ohio State or Michigan would be an amazing feat for a program that appeared to be shattered less than two months ago.  As for the Bruins, most will point to having Mike FaFaul, a walk-on, start this game.  Let’s not pretend though like Josh Rosen would have made all the difference in the world.  UCLA still couldn’t run the ball, and their receivers don’t scare anybody.  What happened to all those big physical lineman they were going to recruit?  Last year the excuse was the injuries on defense, and this year it’s Rosen.  Where was the defense on Saturday night? It let them down, just as much as Jim Mora has at the end of every season.  Once again, the Bruins lose their final home game of the season, as they have the last couple of years.  The last few years it seems like the Bruin football program’s self-worth has been defined by that game.  That’s pathetic because the talent has been there to do so much better on a national level.  Jim Mora has turn this group into a bunch of annual underachievers.

Notre Dame is now 4-7, and they’ve managed to do it without playing a single team that is currently ranked in the AP Poll.  That’s not easy to achieve so congrats to my Irish.  The Irish should play the Cleveland Browns in the Waffle House Flag Football Iron Bowl.  Also, Brian Kelly is now 15-14 in his last 29 games.  Coincidentally, Charlie Strong was 15-14 in his final 29 games at Texas, before he was fired yesterday.  Strong had no chance from the moment he took that job, since he was their fallback plan to Nick Saban.  Louisville players definitely picked the wrong week to complain about not being in the Top 4 of the College Football Playoff, because they got wacked by Houston.  Next week’s top 4 will probably consist of Alabama, Alabama, Alabama, and Alabama.  Even with Washington’s loss to USC, they can still make it into the playoff by winning out, and winning the Pac 12 Title game.  It’s only been a couple of seasons and we already need this playoff to get to 8 or even 16 teams to make it more fair.  It’s not like college kids are doing anything in December anyway over Christmas break.

To the NBA, where the Lakers are getting better, but they reminded us how much work they still have to do the last couple of games.  San Antonio executed at a much higher level, which is a level the young Lakers just aren’t at yet.  The same can be said for Chicago, who rode on the coattails of Jimmy Butler to beat the Lake Show last night.  In all these games the Lakers have lost, they still need to learn to beat the elite teams in the 4th quarter, and play smarter.  That’s why I’m not sold yet that they can make the playoffs, especially when you consider the schedule over the next few weeks.    As for D’Angelo Russell, he was definitely favoring the knee last night, and if it’s an issue, the Lakers should shut him down until he is right.  In case you haven’t realized how good Julius Randle has been,  he’s one of seven players in the Association that are averaging at least 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists.  The other 6? Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Lebron James, and Giannis Antetokounmpo.  That feels like just the start of players on this team that can develop into excellent NBA players.

Then there’s the Clippers who are still rolling.  The Clipps are 12-2 and Blake Griffin has scored 20+ points in 7 straight games, and he’s been killing people inside the paint.  I’ve always thought that Chris Paul would have a much steeper decline in performance by 31 years of age, but he really hasn’t.  In fact, he’s shooting a career high percentage from three point land, and is averaging a career high in steals per game.  The bench has been nice too, but can we just get to the point where we get to see the Warriors facing the Clippers? We’re still a little over a week away from these two Western Conference powerhouses meeting, but I’m not so convinced the Clippers can beat them, especially not in a 7 game series.

Phil Jackson is arguably the greatest coach in American team sports.  However, as a front office executive, he is completely out of touch with how to handle himself.  His latest blunder as an exec came when he claimed Lebron James requires special treatment, and that when James was with Miami, he and his “posse” wanted to spend an extra night in Cleveland.  Of course James took offense to this.  Obviously Phil Jackson isn’t racist, but he has a history of making crude, ridiculous, and obnoxious comments about players (sometimes his own) through the media.  When you have Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neil on your team and you are winning championships, you can get away with it.  However, as an exec without them, you can’t.  Phil is now trying to run an outdated offense modern day players don’t want to run, and now he’s going to have free agents questioning him prior to joining the Knicks.  This is the guy some of you Laker fans want to be a part of the teams front office? Phil the coach is legendary.  Phil the executive is far from it.

It’s nice to see UCLA basketball taking care of business against the opponents they should be blowing out of the gym.  This may not seem like a big deal, but last night’s blow out win against Long Beach State is the type of game we’ve seen the Bruins lose at home over the last few years, even with elite talent.  TJ Leaf and Lonzo Ball have looked great, and the Bruins are on track to be undefeated come their showdown with Kentucky in two weeks.  I still don’t understand why Steve Alford can’t trust a couple of more players to add to his regular rotation.  If he wants to play this up and down style, he needs bodies, especially if he wants to keep the intensity at the defensive end.  I haven’t seen the Bruins look this good so early in five years, but I’m reserving my excitement until I see them play some real teams.

It’s been a very rough first twenty games of the season for the LA Kings, but somehow, they are tied for first place in the Pacific Division after beating the Ducks last night 3-2.  It’s pretty hard to win when you don’t have your starting goaltender, two of your top 6 forwards, and one top four defenseman.  However, the Kings are finding young players like Nic Dowd and Kevin Gravel to pick up the slack, and develop in the process.  I have officially jumped on the “I have a man crush on Nic Dowd bandwagon”.    Not only are these young players how the Kings are going to get through this  stretch without their key players, but it’s how they will better contend for a cup, as they become more reliable when everyone is completely healthy.  As for Anaheim, even after last nights loss they are still part of that three way tie for first in the Pacific, winning 6 of their last 10.  I’d still be a little concerned about Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf though.  Getzlaf has just 1 goal in his first 15 games, while Perry has four in 18 games.  As these guys are aging, their production is coming further into question.

Congratulations to Dave Roberts for winning the NL Manager of the Year.  Roberts did a great job managing a team that lost its only reliable starting pitcher for the majority of the season, and dealing with a bunch of injuries since his GM signed a bunch of guys made out of glass.  Unfortunately for Dodger fans, the team has raised ticket prices on all seats for next seats. I have no problem if a good team wants to raise ticket prices because they are contending for a World Series Championship.  The Dodgers aren’t fooling anybody, thinking they actually are going to assemble a team that is going to truly contend.  Under Andrew Friedman, they are lowering payroll, and looking for “cost-effective options” at every opportunity, as opposed to trying to supplement their great farm system with quality pieces that can put them over the top.  We’re likely to see this play out when Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner sign with new teams in the next few weeks.  If the Dodgers want to raise ticket prices, they should be raising their payroll, rather than lowering it.  The Dodgers have been in the playoffs for 6 of the past 8 years, and they still have no World Series title for the past 28 years.  Not sure how anybody can look at this new front office as any kind of success compared to the previous front office.

Congrats to Mike Trout as well for winning the AL MVP award.  It’s his second career MVP, and a reminder that he is on his way to becoming one of the best players in the history of the game.  That’s also a reminder of why the Angels wouldn’t dare trade him, no matter how bad the team gets.  Also, in case you missed it, Kate Upton, who is engaged to Tigers Pitcher Justin Verlander, went off on Twitter after losing the Cy Young award to Rick Porcello.  This woman has no chill……

Finally, another episode of The Walking Dead went down on AMC last night.  Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see it so read no further if that is the case.  This episode was a little slow, taking us back to the Hilltop, where Maggie slowly gets her health back.  The Saviors visit Hilltop and bully Gregory for a little bit.  The only real suspenseful moment was whether or not Gregory was going to rat out Sasha and Maggie to the Saviors for staying with the Hilltop, even after saving them from Walkers the night before.  Gregory is nothing more than a figurehead at Hilltop, and by the end of the episode, Maggie has basically positioned herself as the leader of the community.  You might as well add him to the “characters that are for sure going to die” list.  Anybody that cares about their own life more than others in this show is toast, and that’s exactly what he does.  Both Maggie and Sasha are looking more and more bad ass by the minute, and the deaths of Glenn and Abraham are pushing them toward any revenge they can get.  What the hell is Carl thinking?  He goes on a rollerblading date with Enid, and suddenly thinks it’s a good idea to jump in the back of the Saviors truck to go exact some type of revenge. My guess is that Negan is just going to toy with him and not actually kill him.   Sounds more reckless to me than anything else, but then again, Sasha’s request that Jesus do the same is just as ridiculous.  Jesus is one loyal dude though.  Enid had Hershel’s watch. Does everybody get a turn with Hershel’s watch?  That thing has been passed around more than the Kardashian sisters during NBA All-Star weekend.  We’ve got several strong characters developing quickly in this season, but I’m curious to see how it’s going to come together in an attempt to take down the Saviors.  It’s probably the women that lead the charge: Maggie, Sasha, and Michonne, who ultimately lead the war against Negan.


Monday Morning Coffee


November 14th, 2016

There is much to get to in this edition of Monday Morning Coffee, so let’s start with the Lakers.  Taking two out of three on their latest road trip isn’t too bad and after 11 games, a 6-5 record is a very pleasant surprise.  I’m going to overlook the fact that Andrew Wiggins looked like Dominique Wilkins last night, and the Lake Show was blown out of the building.  Instead I’ll focus on the positive.  Luke Walton is playing with a 10 man rotation, with each one playing between 20-25 minutes a night, and closing with the group of players that are playing the best.  There’s a ton of mistakes being made, but there’s energy, there’s effort on defense, and there’s accountability.  On any given night, I’m actually starting to believe that this team can beat anybody that they play.  On the other hand though, if the Lakers are gonna play .500 ball, the playoffs are a realistic goal. If that’s the case then they can’t afford to lose games to Minnesota and Dallas like they did last week.  This is definitely a fun team to watch, and one that Laker fans can really get excited about.  Let’s hope they get back in the win column against Brooklyn on Tuesday before the schedule gets tougher again.

As for the Clippers, they’ve got the best record in the NBA after 10 games, and they are off to their best start in franchise history.  However, nobody cares, and it’s not just because they are the red headed step child of LA sports teams.  It’s because they will be defined by whether or not they make it past the 2nd round of the playoffs, which they have never done.  I fully expect Golden State to get their act together and finish 1st in the West.  However, the Clipps best hopes of getting to the conference finals are to finish 1st so they can avoid what is likely to be the Warriors or Spurs in the 2nd round.  In that case, I guess I should say that nobody cares about the Clippers until the playoffs, but the Clippers should care about the regular season if they have hopes of making a real playoff run.  Between the Lakers and the Clippers, the NBA in LA is getting very fun to watch.

On to the NFL and the Rams.  Look people…our troops don’t defend our freedom in this country so we can watch Case Keenum vs Bryce Petty on Sundays.  That Rams-Jets game went exactly the way we thought it would, with neither team being able to do anything on offense.  The Rams may have come away with the ugly 9-6 win, but it’s nothing more than a game that one of two mediocre teams had to win.  As usual, Jeff Fisher didn’t put any blame on the quarterback, and gave us no reason to think he’s going to give Jared Goff a chance to start next week against Miami.  Since Case Keenum is easily the worst starting quarterback in the NFL, and Fisher insists on keeping Goff on the bench, I’ve subscribed  to a new theory.  The theory is that Fisher and General Manager Les Snead realize that Goff really isn’t that good, and that trading their first born child for him in the draft was a mistake.  That’s right folks, that means that Goff isn’t even better than the worst starting quarterback in the NFL right now.  Since Fisher and Snead know this, they won’t let Goff see the field or else everyone will realize how badly they screwed up, and they could lose their jobs.  In other words, keeping Goff on the bench actually increases their job security.  As if the quarterback situation isn’t bad enough, I’m beginning to wonder about Todd Gurley too, since he’s yet to have a 100 yard game this year.  Gurley might just be an average NFL running back, and not the all-pro we thought he was going to be last year.  In fact, Gurley might not even be the best back on the Rams, given how Benny  Cunningham looked yesterday.  Collectively, the offense is so bad, I can’t tell who is a stiff and who is actually a serviceable player.

Elsewhere around week 10 of the NFL, I don’t know how the Chargers do it.  They lost another game late in the 4th, this time on a Philip Rivers pick 6, at the hands of the Miami Dolphins.  The Bolts are now losing on and off the field.  More on that in a moment.  I’m surprised that Tony Romo wasn’t waiving one of those terrible towels yesterday, in hopes that Dak would screw up and he’d get his starting job back next week.  Sorry Tony, Cowboys got by the Steelers in a good one.  Jay Cutler is back to throwing interceptions, so everything in our country seems right again.  The Bucs beat up on the Bears.  The Packers defense has as many holes as the cheese that’s made in Wisconsin, and they got blown away by the Titans.   The Browns couldn’t even get a win in the same week that a reality TV star became President, as the Ravens beat up on Cleveland.  Carson Wentz got his game back and the Eagles took down the Falcons.  Saints fans are probably jumping in the bayou with the alligators after losing to the Broncos on a blocked PAT.  The Texans beat the Jaguars in a game that should have been aired on Comedy Central.  Sam Bradford has suddenly remembered that he’s only Sam Bradford, and the Vikings lost again, this time to the Redskins.  Cam Newton brought back the dab, but that wasn’t enough to get the Panthers to beat the Chiefs.  The Cardinals got by the lowly 49ers, who have nothing but Colin Kapernick’s political crusade to keep them relevant.  There’s always time for a selfie at an NFL game right?


The city of San Diego voted against a hotel tax that would fund a stadium downtown for the Chargers.  That leaves the Chargers with very few good options.  They’ve been trying to get funding for a new stadium for 16 years, and the city just won’t do it.  Now it seems as though their only viable option for a new stadium is to go to LA, and share the new Inglewood stadium with the Rams.  That may be a smart monetary move for the Chargers, but they would become by far the most irrelevant team in the LA sports landscape.  The Bolts would have completely alienated all of their San Diego fans, while simultaneously struggling to  build a new fan base in a market that’s already dominated by the Rams.  It’s a crummy situation for the Chargers who are either going to lose money, or lose their fans.  It also means that we might be just a year away from having not 1, but 2 terrible NFL football teams in Los Angeles.

To college football, where the Trojans pulled off the big upset against #4 Washington on Saturday.  I wasn’t really sure, but now I am: USC is back, and Clay Helton is off the hot seat.  Helton has found a dynamic quarterback in Sam Darnold.  The kid takes chances, but he’s one of the best freshman quarterbacks we’ve seen at ‘SC in the last twenty years.  It’s not just Darnold’s greatness that’s putting the Trojans on this run.  The defense shut down one of the most dynamic offenses in the country, and the special teams play has been huge during their six game winning streak.  That streak is something that hasn’t been done by USC since the Pete Carroll era, which the Trojans have been desperately trying to replicate since his departure.  It would almost be a shame at this point if USC doesn’t get a chance to play Washington again in the Pac 12 Title game.  The Trojans still need to win against UCLA and hope for Utah and Colorado to lose another game for that to happen.  That’s a little bit of a long shot.  Looking back on it, losing to Utah and Alabama was understandable, but the Stanford loss is what really hurt.

It was nice to see the Bruins get back in the win column on the football field against Oregon State.  it was also good to see Mike Fafaul get himself a win as the Bruins starting quarterback.  However, it’s going to be blood bath next week when UCLA takes on USC at the Rose Bowl.  I have no idea how the Bruins are going to be able to move the ball considering that have no running game, and the Trojan secondary is going to be licking their chops at every pass Fafaul puts in the air.  This one could get ugly.

Elsewhere around college football, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame managed to avoid an embarrassment this weekend by beating Army.  That counts as something significant these days for the Irish, who have suffered mass amounts of humiliation this season.  Then there’s the chaos that is now the polls after Clemson, Michigan, and Washington lost.  I do hope this moves Louisville up in the ranks though, because they would probably give Alabama the best game in the playoffs.  Meanwhile, Alabama beat up on Mississippi State, clinching the SEC West title, and inspiring tons of inbred sex on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa.  There’s also UNLV’s backup punter who wasn’t really planning on playing, and instead wore his girlfriend’s Yoga pants to the game…..


Is UCLA basketball back? Ok maybe not, but they look pretty damn exciting in their first two games.  Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf are already looking like super freshman, and the Bruins have depth.  I’m not going to lose my mind over a couple of wins against Northridge and Pacific, but we’ve seen UCLA have major let downs at home against those types of schools in recent years.  The Bruins should win their next four games and be undefeated going into their showdown against Kentucky.  That will be the first true test on the national stage.  This team is going to score, but as with any Steve Alford team, the question is whether or not they can play defense.  They have the athleticism to do so, it’s just a matter of being accountable on that end of the floor.  Also, now that Arizona appears to have lost it’s best player, the Bruins have an even better chance to win the Pac 12.

As for USC basketball, their off to two quick wins against easy opponents, but it’s like everyone completely forgot about their success last year.  They finished 6th in the Pac 12 last year, and were actually picked to finish 6th again, mostly due to a couple of players turning pro.  However, Andy Enfield’s recruiting has been a little bit underrated the last couple of years, and he has some players that can help make some noise in the conference, and be dangerous again come tournament time.  What isn’t going to help USC though is that they don’t have a single non-conference game against a ranked opponent.

To baseball, where I had a feeling Andrew Friedman was going to do something stupid.  Sure enough he did.  He traded Howie Kendrick to the Phillies for two useless minor leaguers.  Farhan Zaidi, Friedman’s “whipping boy”, explained that his was simply done to create payroll flexibility.  Thank god for that considering there are no good free agents out there.  The Dodgers have a good third baseman and a good closer, but they are about to give us a bunch of excuses about why they aren’t going to sign them, even after clearing $14 million with the trades of Kendrick and Carlos Ruiz.  I’m also going to lose my mind the next time I hear Zaidi or Friedman say they have starting pitching depth.  Apparently these guys didn’t watch the same NLCS that we did, when they had no starters beyond Clayton Kershaw who they could give the ball too.

I’ve been telling you for about a year now, but nobody was listening.  Donald Trump had a real shot to be the next President of the United States.  Now it’s finally happened, so I’m not surprised.  Now that we’re here though, people need to stop losing their minds.  Give the man a chance before you continue your protesting, complaining, and threats to move to Canada.  I can’t believe somebody hung the Nazi flag in San Francisco as a sign of protest.  Really people? So Donald Trump is Hitler? Apparently some people have zero historical perspective.  People complained about Ronald Regan when he was elected because he was an actor, yet he turned out to be one of our best Presidents ever.  Wait and see what happens before you start complaining.  As for Hillary, she foolishly failed to campaign extensively in the most critical states she needed, which she totally took for granted, just like many of Donald Trump’s opponents over the last year.

Finally, a 90 minute episode of The Walking Dead went down on AMC last night.  Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see it, so read no further if that is the case.  We finally get back to Alexandria and see how the group is doing, but the entire episode was Negan basically taunting Rick as his people raided the Alexandrian’s supplies.  Learning that Rick is aware that Judith isn’t really his daughter and is Shane’s, really didn’t have quite the effect on me as I thought it would.  Since Lori died four seasons ago when Judith was born, we are just so far removed for me to be really connected with it anymore.  However, I get the significance, which is that Rick is willing to endure these difficult situations like this, and still raise Judith like she is his own.  The fact that Rick didn’t smash Negan over the head with Lucille just goes to show you how much fight has been taken out of Rick.  The same can be said for Darryl, who didn’t even have the energy to convince Negan he wanted to stay in Alexandria.  It’s interesting that Negan doesn’t want to kill women, but it’s actually the women in this group that are probably the most dangerous to him: Michonne, Maggie, Sasha, and Rosita.  I suspect they will be the ones that are going to inspire the group to take down Negan.  I haven’t heard that much talk about guns since the Presidential election.  Negan is definitely not a guy you want to be “audited” by during the apocalypse.  Not a bad episode, but I’d say my least favorite of the first four we’ve seen this season.  Looking forward to seeing what’s up back at Hilltop next week.


Monday Morning Coffee


November 7th, 2016

It’s time to start planning the Laker championship parade right? Ok, maybe not, and I know it’s way too early to be drawing any conclusions about just how good the team is.  However, after taking down the Suns last night for their 3rd straight win, and improving to 4-3, there’s a few key takeaways from the early going.  Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell are developing quite nicely, and learning how to make an impact on the game in a number of ways that we didn’t see last season.  There’s also way better offensive structure and ball movement than last season’s train wreck.  It feels like we see more ball movement in one possession this year than we did in an entire game last season.  There’s also a much greater effort and accountability on the defensive end, even though many of the teams younger players are still learning how to defend at this level.  Much of that can be attributed to the job Luke Walton is doing, especially since the players look like they are having fun.  At minimum, the Lakers are becoming fun to watch again, just as Larry Nance reminded us on Friday night……..

As for the Clippers, they are off to a hot 5-1 start.  On Saturday, Blake Griffin looked like the second coming of Karl Malone, and J.J. Redick looked like Mark Price.  With those two playing like that, it would’t have mattered if Tony Parker and Danny Green had been in the lineup for the Spurs.  Besides, Tony Parker has played more like Sarah Jessica Parker so far this year.  As I said earlier, it’s way too early to be drawing conclusions.  However, in the early going, it’s starting to feel like the West has some aging teams aging teams like San Antonio, Memphis, and Dallas, which the Clipps can take advantage of.  I fully expect the Warriors to become more dominant as the season goes on, and they find their chemistry.  However, if the Clipps are going to contend, Blake and DeAndre have to dominate in the paint.  That’s the edge they have over almost every other team in the league.  The only question is whether or not they decide to take advantage of it.

I guess that bye week didn’t make the Rams offense any better.  LA lost their fourth straight yesterday, this time to Cam Newton and the struggling Panthers.  The Panthers followed the usual “beat LA” playbook by stacking the box and daring Case Keenum to beat them.  That strategy worked beautifully, as Keenum missed some very important throws.  Keenum is the worst person to play the Coliseum, and OJ Simpson killed two people.  Roger Goodell should order him to move back to St. Louis.  As if Keenum isn’t bad enough, his pass catchers like Lance Kendricks are dropping touchdown passes. I’m not sure how much longer Jeff Fisher is going to make us endure the Keenum era, but the fans yesterday were not only chanting “we want Goff”, but things got so bad, the fans even chanted “we want Tebow”.  Wait until next week when the Rams travel to New York to play the Jets.  Case Keenum vs Ryan Fitzpatrick? That’s almost as bad as Hillary Clinton vs Donald Trump.  The Rams have not only reverted back to the team we thought they might be, but much worse.  Fans were headed to the exits yesterday with plenty of time left in the fourth quarter.  I guess they wanted to beat that Uber surge pricing.  Football in LA is back, and just like I remember it.

Elsewhere around week 9 of the NFL, Melvin Gordon continued his Jim Brown imitation, as the Chargers topped the Titans.  The real question for the Bolts though is what’s going to happen on Tuesday when the City of San Diego votes on funding for a new stadium.  The Raiders are relevant for the first time in a decade after beating the Broncos last night  The Eagles are back to looking like the Eagles again.  Eli Manning ate his Lunchables before the game, and the Giants took down their division rivals.  To make it more fair, the NFL should spot the Browns 14 points before every game the rest of the year.  I guess it wouldn’t have mattered anyway yesterday, when Cleveland got blown out by the Cowboys.  The Saints crushed the 49ers, and for the love of God, Chip Kelly needs to go back to coaching college football.  It was the Colts all over the Packers.  A squirrel ran onto the field and gained more total yards than the Packers did all day.  Good thing the Steelers fans have those terrible towels.  They needed them to dry their tears after losing to the Ravens.  Minnesota’s running game is worse than it’s weather.  The Vikings lost to the Lions in OT.  The Chiefs got by the Jaguars, but the highlight of the game was seeing Travis Kelce getting ejected from the game after throwing his towel at the official.  The Dolphins outlasted the Jets in what was “The Incompetent Quarterback Bowl”, and the Bucs were the latest team to get destroyed on Thursday Night Football, when they got dismantled by the Falcons.  This was the worst onside kick in the history of the NFL…….

Off to the college ranks, where the Trojans made it 5 in a row by crushing Oregon at the Coliseum on Saturday.  We’re going to get a lot of answers as to how good the Trojans are next week when they take on Washington.  The reality of it is that three of the last five wins have come against three of the worst defenses in college football.  However, I’ve always said what makes life so difficult for the Trojans is the fact they constantly have to live up to the greatness of the players in the Pete Carroll era.  Some of these players are now doing things that we haven’t seen since the Carroll era.  Sam Darnold has been putting up video game numbers we haven’t seen since the Matt Leinart, added another 309 yards and two touchdowns against the Ducks.  Compared to some of his other recent performances, that was rather unspectacular.  Then there’s sophomore running back Ronald Jones, who tied Lendale White’s school record of four TD’s in a single game on Saturday night.  That comes after running all over Cal the week before for a career high of 223 yards.  I guess nobody is talking about Clay Helton getting fired anymore either.  Next week will tell us just how far USC has come since the beginning of the season.

As for the Bruins, they can’t even hope to go to a crappy bowl game after losing to Colorado.  UCLA would need to win out for that to happen, and with games against USC and on the road against Cal later in the month, the odds of Kanye West becoming the U.S. President in 2020 are better than a Bruins bowl appearance.  When you look at the big picture, it doesn’t seem all the bad for the Bruins.  They have been within a play or two of winning all their games, they have a new pro-style offense that usually takes a full year for players to adjust to, and their defense is much improved.  Even though you wouldn’t expect UCLA to win those close games without Rosen, their inability to become elite with our without him could not be more disappointing.  Their running game has been nonexistent, and their receivers drop more balls than average local high school players.  The last couple of years have been one excuse after the next when it comes to why UCLA can’t get their football program to the next level.  It’s been a soft schedule that the Bruins just couldn’t take advantage of.  I guess nobody is treating this as a crisis since UCLA is a basketball school.  Except right now, it isn’t that either.  More on that shortly.

How bad has it gotten for Notre Dame? They just lost to Navy, and are now 3-6.  Somewhere, Rudy is drinking a bottle of Jameson and holding a shotgun.  The Irish probably aren’t even going to go to a bowl game, although if they did, they should call it “The Toilet Bowl”.  The punters in that Alabama vs LSU game were really earning their money.  ‘Bama still #1 in the country after that ugly game.  Just give Lamar Jackson the Heisman Trophy already. Texas A&M got upset, but of course in the eyes of the playoff committee, LSU and Texas A&M have the most important thing on their resume: a loss to Alabama. Arkansas pulled off the upset over Florida.  The Razorbacks haven’t beaten the Gators since Michael Jackson was black.  Clemson, Michigan, and Washington dominated, and should all be in Tuesday’s latest college football playoff poll.

To college hoops where that so called “basketball school”, UCLA, is opening up their season on Friday.  The Bruins are #16 in the preseason poll, but are going to be facing some stiff Pac 12 competition.    Arizona and conference favorite Oregon, are both ranked in the top 10.  The Bruins ranking is all coming based on two recruits: Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf.  Ball is one of the most hyped prospects I’ve seen coming out of high school, so much so that I’m concerned that he isn’t going to live up to the ridiculous expectations.  Leaf is a solid player as well, but UCLA has had great recruiting classes in recent years that haven’t vaulted the Bruins into national championship contention.  However, the Bruins non-conference schedule isn’t too bad.  Their only tough game is at Kentucky.  The teeth of their schedule will actually be once they get into conference play.  Aren’t you impressed I haven’t even ripped Steve Alford yet after writing all that about UCLA basketball? I’m sure there will be plenty of time for that though as the season goes on.

Well the Cubs did it.  They won the World Series, ending their identity as “the lovable losers”.  I’ve gotta tip my hat to the team, and its long suffering fans.  The last time the Cubs won the World Series the dinosaurs were roaming the earth.  That game 7 was really one of the best I’ve seen.  Of course some poor 100 year old Cubs fan probably died during that rain delay.   This has to be payback for all those Cleveland fans that were making fun of Warrior fans for blowing a 3-1 series lead a few months ago during the NBA Finals.  If nothing else though, the last few months have put Cleveland back on the map as a sports city, despite all the depressing things about that town.  There were two things I loved about the final out of game 7.  Kris Bryant fielded that ground ball at 3rd base with a gigantic smile on his face, which was hilarious to watch.  Then there was Anthony Rizzo, who had the presence of mind to actually put the ball in his pocket after the final out.  Amazing that he remembered to do that in all the commotion of the celebration.  Rizzo might have actually listed that ball on Ebay by now.  In any case, congratulations to the Chicago Cubs.

Speaking of baseball, the Angels made the first move of the baseball offseason by acquiring Cameron Maybin from the Tigers.  The Halos have had a black hole in left field for the last couple of years, and prior to this trade, I was beginning to think they should hold open tryouts for fans for that position.  However, since they couldn’t find a decent left fielder, Billy Eppler decided that he would trade for a center fielder, and just move him to left him.  The cost wasn’t very high, and Maybin has a reasonable contract, so this seems like a pretty good move.  The real question is whether or not Maybin can stay healthy because he’s had some very unlucky injuries the past few seasons.  Nevertheless, it’s a decent start to the offseason for the Angels, who need to plug holes at 2nd base and catcher next.

We may be coming closer to the Dodgers TV blackout coming to an end.  The U.S. Justice Department is suing DirecTV over colluding with other cable companies to keep the Dodgers off-air.  If AT&T is going to proceed with it’s Time Warner merger, it will probably need to settle this lawsuit, and that will ultimately mean putting the Dodgers on DirecTV.  I’m not really sure how the U.S. Justice Department is going to force the exorbitant price of SportsNet LA on cable providers, but cable companies are starting to get desperate.  More and more people are cutting the cord, and resorting to streaming alternatives to get the content they want.  If you try hard enough these days, you can probably watch whatever content you want for free.

On the ice, the Kings finally won in regulation.  I don’t even remember the last time that happened.  If you think that’s rare, they got goals from Trevor Lewis, Kyle Clifford, and Devin Setoguchi, who hasn’t scored since high school, in their 5-0 win against the Flames.  With all due respect to Setoguchi and his quest for NHL redemption, I’d really like to see the Kings give their younger players from Ontario a chance to develop at the NHL level.  Instead of hoping veterans like Setoguchi, Teddy Purcell, and Tom Gilbert can acquire some career reviving magic, I’d much rather see promising young players like Nic Dowd, Kevin Gravel, and even Michael Mersch try to make an impact.  The Kings did it before in 2011-2012 in their first run to winning a Stanley Cup.  No reason to not follow that path this year, especially during a time with so many injuries.  As for the Ducks, they’ve looked a lot sharper the last few games.  They throttled the Kings, then pounded the Coyotes and Flames.  Anaheim is starting to gain some ground on those upstart Edmonton Oilers in the Pacific Division.

Are you ready for the election? I’m ready for it to be over.  That way I don’t have to have to listen to somebody telling me how “out of my mind” I have to be to vote for Clinton or Trump.  Never have I seen such passion and anger from two political candidates.  This race is becoming a lot closer than I thought it would be, and frankly, either outcome is possible come late Tuesday night.

Finally, another intense episode of The Walking Dead went down on AMC last night.  Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see it, so read no further if you haven’t seen it yet.  This episode was all about Negan, his relationship with Dwight and his wife, and their efforts to break Daryl.  The real question out of this episode is whether or not you feel bad for Dwight and his wife Sherry, or not.  Even in the world of The Walking Dead, there’s only so much one should do to remain alive, otherwise life is just too unbearable to go on with.  Dwight and Sherry had choices to make, and they made poor ones out of fear.  Sherry had the chance to go to Alexandria, and probably could have convinced Dwight to come too.  Instead, they left themselves susceptible to the mercy of Negan.  I found it laughable when Dwight and Sherry were speaking to each other, claiming that they were better off at the mercy of Negan, rather than being dead.  That sounds highly questionable considering that Dwight got half his face burned off, and had to endure losing his wife Negan.  What’s the point of living in this world if you have to sacrifice so much? The best part of all this is that Dwight is just getting more and more angry at Darryl because Negan likes him, and because he’s learning that Daryl has the strength that Dwight wishes he had.  He refuses to succumb to Negan, and he won’t be broken.  Daryl knows the choices that Dwight made and knows why he made them, but he won’t do it.  Even Sherry knows that Daryl is the person that she and her husband used to be, and in some ways, is also envious of that.  Honestly though, if I kept hearing that “Easy Street” song like Daryl did, I’d succumb to Negan in a second.  Overall, a very good episode with some pretty good story telling.