Monthly Archives: March 2024

Monday Morning Coffee

March 25, 2024

Ok let’s get into this Shohei Ohtani gambling mess. You have to admit that the story is suspicious. For his translator, Ippei Mizuhara, to change his story to ESPN by saying he did have knowledge he was gambling, and then he didn’t have knowledge he was gambling is very questionable. Hopefully this story aligns with what Ohtani plans to say to the media today, when he is scheduled to address this subject. However, in my opinion, if Ohtani bet on something other than baseball and gets in trouble for it, I will give the guy a hug. Who cares if he decided to bet on some EPL soccer game last year? And who cares if he paid some bookie in California, where our state is run by idiots that couldn’t run a hot dog stand, and have yet to legalize gambling. Ultimately, I can’t imagine that Ohtani will get suspended, unless the FBI finds something highly illegal, since he’s basically a Golden Goose for the League. Meanwhile, don’t let all this distract you from the fact that Yoshinobu Yamamoto was complete garbage in his first game, and after a rough spring. Since he’s supposed to be their ace who is signed for the next 12 years, I’d say they should be concerned. Hopefully the guy can find his game immediately, otherwise he’s basically the Japanese version of Lance Lynn.

As for the Angels, I’m sure Arte Moreno wants to see Ohtani go down with a hard punishment from the gambling controversy. However, I’m sure Angels fans want to see that as well as Arte get punished for not signing Blake Snell, who signed with the Giants. Snell got a 2 year deal for $66 million, with a player option on year 2. The Angels were $37 million under the competitive balance tax and they desperately need pitching. They claim they want to win. Yet Arte is being stingy. Even more disappointing though is someone like Michael Lorenzen, a useful starting pitcher, signed for $4.5 million with the Rangers. The Halos couldn’t have done that either? I realize that Perry Minasian is extremely handcuffed by Arte, but if he thought they only had $30 million to spend, why would he spend it all on relievers? Still , Arte is the problem, and until that changes, it’s hard to see things getting any better for this franchise.

How is your March Madness Bracket going? I’m sure you’re probably losing in your office pool to the girl that picked winners by who had the cutest mascot, your mom, and some dude that made 12 different brackets. I’m sure John Calipari is going to punish all of his players by taking away their cell phones and BMW’s after they lost in the first round. If there’s one thing we’ve learned it’s that the one and done doesn’t work anymore if you want to win in the NCAA Tournament. You need good players that have played together for a long time. That’s why there’s actually hope for these mid major programs all of a sudden. Enjoy the ride and try not to take your brackets too seriously!

The Lakers took down the Pacers last night for their 3rd straight win. The good news for the LA is that they are now 7 games over .500 and putting further distance between themselves and the Warriors for 9th place. With that being said, they probably won’t catch the Mavs or Kings for 7th or 8th place. That’s a problem because they really need to stay on the opposite side of the bracket as the Nuggets, Kings, and Clippers. Why the Clippers? Because the Clippers matchup very well with the Nuggets, and actually have a chance to beat them when they are on their game. The Nuggets are currently in 1st place in the West, so that doesn’t help the Lakers chances of that scenario playing out, as it stands now.

As for the Clippers, there’s some cause for concern. They’ve lost 5 of 8 games and they haven’t beaten a team with a winning record in the last 3 weeks. Some of that includes game without Kawhi and PG13, but the concern is how they are losing games. In fact, when Paul George says “I don’t think we have an identity”, at this stage of the season, that’s problematic. I’m not sure it matters at this point who the Clippers play in the playoffs for their sake, but they need to start regaining some momentum quickly, or what was once a promising season will be lost.

I think when Aaron Donald retired about a week ago, we all kind of thought there was a chance he might return at some point. When I listened to him address the media for the first time a couple of days ago, I now believe there is no chance he is coming back. Donald said he simply doesn’t have the desire to do the work anymore that it requires to be an NFL player, let alone one as great as he is. I think it’s hard for most normal people to understand this when you are in your early 30’s, but the reality is being a professional athlete means you are in the top 1% or even less of what you do. It takes a tremendous amount of effort and preparation to be at that level year in and year out, and when you don’t want to put the work in anymore, it’s easy to see how one can get burnt out. At least the Rams should be able to look at this with some closure, and be able to move on from it and make plans.

Monday Morning Coffee

March 18, 2024

I’ve gotta start with the Rams. Aaron Donald surprised many of us by announcing his retirement last week. Look, it’s not like I expected this guy to play another 5 years, after he hinted he was considering retirement after the Super Bowl victory. However, I did think he was going to play for a couple of more seasons after he received a big contract. That’s a huge blow to the Rams Super Bowl chances next year after they re-loaded in free agency, and were poised to do the same in April’s draft. Now it’s imperative they take an edge rusher with their 1st round pick in the draft. However, it’s safe to say there will never be another Aaron Donald. He played for 10 years with the Rams, the only team he ever played for, won a Super Bowl, went to another, and was a Pro-Bowler every year he played. He’s 28th on the all-time sacks list, some might argue the best defensive player ever, and a sure first ballot Hall of Famer. There is definitely no replacing that, but he was definitely a privilege to watch. This also totally overshadowed the Jimmy G move as well, who will be a nice backup to Matt Stafford, and the other big moves they made for the offensive line and defense. At least that will make for good entertainment knowing about all the porn stars Jimmy G hangs out with off the field.

There’s a lot a lot of shakeups happening with the Chargers. Austin Ekeler is gone, signing with the Commanders. Mike Williams was released, and Keenan Allen was traded for a ham sandwich. They did bring in Gus Edwards and Will Dissly to help the offense. However, they only needed to release Mike Williams to get cap compliant, so it’s a little bit of a head scratching move. Justin Herbert can’t be happy because as of right now, he’s going to be throwing to Door Dash Drivers all season long. The Bolts seem like a really good candidate to trade their #5 pick for multiple picks, because they now have a lot of needs to fill. Nevertheless, we’re talking about Jim Harbaugh here, so you’ve gotta trust him.

NFL Free agency has been wild though. Kirk Cousins is living the American Dream, continuing to find teams to pay him huge money. Don’t you just love this country? The Ravens added Derrick Henry, which would be an awesome move if this were 2021. The Steelers signed Russell Wilson and trade for Justin Fields, and told Fields that Wilson will be the starter. That’s hilarious. It’s like when your mom and dad tell you that “you better be on your best behavior or so God help me I’m going to turn this car around and go home.” Good one guys, no way Fields doesn’t beat out Wilson for the job at some point. Has anybody informed the Cowboys that free agency started? I’m assuming no, since Jerry Jones claimed he was “all-in this off-season.”

Let’s get to College Basketball where we have to start with the ending to UCLA’s season last week. The Bruins put up a good fight against Oregon in the quarterfinals of the PAC-12 Tournament, but as usual, the offense was atrocious. Dylan Andrews, Lazar Stefanovic, and Jane Vide claim they are coming back next season. Nobody is certain about the rest. Adem Bona’s draft stock has dropped so much, he may end up coming back to school. Ultimately though, the most important question is if Mick Cronin is coming back. His name has been thrown around in the Louisville coaching search, as well as the Michigan search. Of course he has to rebuild the program at UCLA after all the departures, but there’s no reason to think he can’t. It might take another couple of years though because next years recruiting class looks rough, and UCLA is still figuring out how to get into the NIL game. UCLA should do everything they can to keep Cronin if he’s considering walking, including signing him to an extension. He’s the perfect coach for a transition into the Big 10 where they will have to grind things out both on and off the court to rebuild. As far as I’m concerned though, other than Bona and Andrews, every other player on this roster should be considered for replacement.

As for March Madness, good luck to everyone that has watched about 30 seconds of College Basketball this year and trying to fill out brackets. I’m sure the girl in your office who picks teams based on the cutest mascot will likely win your office pool, so why bother doing real homework? With that being said, UCONN seems like head and shoulders the best and most consistent team in the country. Houston, Purdue, and UNC were the other number 1 seeds, and seems highly unlikely all of them get to the Final Four. You’ve gotta love how Long Beach State announced last week they were firing their coach Dan Monson, then led his team to its first NCAA Tournament birth by winning the Big West Tournament. That’s really sticking it to your boss!

To the NBA, where let’s be honest: The Lakers are toast. They are now 3 games back of the 6th, 7th, and 8th seeds, so with 14 games left, there’s no way they will make up that ground. That means they will have to win two must win elimination games, most likely both of them on the road, just to get into the playoffs. I can’t say I like the Lakers chances in two road games, especially with Darvin Ham coaching them, who has completely botched this season, and may be the biggest issue with this team. They would be better off with Bozo The Clown behind the bench at this point, instead of the Bozo that’s already there. There’s now also the concern over Anthony Davis’ health, after he was poked in the eye over the weekend. Hopefully he’s only out for a few days if that.

Meanwhile, the Clippers have started to come back to the pack a little bit. They are now 4.5 games out of 1st place in the West, so getting the top seed seems out of the question now. However, the bigger concern is health. I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, but Kawhi had missed a few games recently with back spasms, and James Harden has been suffering from a shoulder ailment. There’s also a bit of concern that the Pelicans are breathing down their neck for the 4th seed, which would give them home court advantage in a potential 1st round showdown with the Clips. Considering the Pelicans won the season series 3-1, and bullied LA in the paint, that doesn’t really bode too well for them.

Believe it or not, the baseball season is upon us! The Dodgers get their season underway vs the Padres in Korea on Wednesday. Set your alarms, because first pitch will be at around 3:05 am Wednesday morning. Tyler Glasnow will get the ball for LA against Yu Darvish, and the following day it will be Yoshinobu Yamamoto vs Joe Musgrove. That brings us to the question of whether or not the Dodgers should be concerned about Yamamoto’s spring performance, where he sported an ERA over 10. My initial reaction is somewhat concerned. He’s signed to a 10 year deal, so you can’t not be concerned this early. He had a great first start, was a strikeout machine, and seemed to shutout teams easily first time through the order. However, his command and hard hit rate weren’t very good in his latter starts, which has to raise some eyebrows. Nevertheless, only time will tell how this guy will adjust and continues to craft his game against a whole new type of hitter than the league he’s been in previously. It also wouldn’t hurt to have Blake Snell’s phone number handy too.

Finally, as I said before, I will believe the Angels will sign Blake Snell when I see it. If you know anything about Arte Moreno, you know he’s a cheapskate. Ken Rosenthal reminded us of this on the “Foul Territory” podcast earlier in the week, saying his sources told him GM Perry Minasian has been lobbying Moreno all winter to sign Snell and JD Martinez. However, Moreno has told him “we’re not doing that” to this point. For a guy who started the off-season $70 million below last season’s luxury tax, he sure doesn’t seem to have much interest in winning. As if that’s not bad enough, Mike Trout is having one of the worst spring training’s of his career. He’s hitting .212 which is the second worst of his career, has a .270 OBP, the worst of his career, and 15 strikeouts, which is also the worst of his career. I’m not saying to put a lot of stock into spring training games, but considering how short this team is becoming on talent, his performance is a little worrisome.

Monday Morning Coffee

March 11th, 2024

Not bad Lake Show. The Lakers took down the Minnesota Timberwolves last night at, and are now 5-2 in their last 7 games. The insertion of Rui Hachimura into the starting lineup has been great, and I’ll try not to focus on how stupid Darvin Ham is for playing Taurean Prince over Rui the entire 4th quarter. Anthony Davis really had a video game stat line last night. If D-Lo can look as reliable as he has in the past few weeks during the postseason, the Lakers can recapture the magic they had towards the end of last season. With 16 games left, the Lakers are just two games out of the 6th spot, and 1.5 out of the 7th spot. It just so happens they’ll get another shot against Sacramento on Tuesday, who sits in 7th right now. Let’s be honest though. The Lakers and their fans probably don’t care who they play in the playoffs, as long as they can avoid the Denver Nuggets for as long as possible.

The Clippers lost to the Bucks yesterday, but they have still been winning games, coming out on the right side of 4 of their last 6. However, they are now on the wrong side of the standings, 3.5 games back in the battle for 1st place in the West. I don’t know if the matchups really matter at this point in the West, because everyone will be tough 1-10, but they do need to hope their stars are healthy. They weren’t yesterday, but that’s also because they were likely keeping Kawhi and PG-13 in bubble wrap on the 2nd night of a back-to-back. After all, these days NBA players heads will fall off if they are forced to play in a back-to-back game. They also need to try and finish as high as possible in the standings, because in these playoffs, not having home court advantage in multiple rounds can be a problem.

NFL free agency is upon us. The Rams checked off one of their major to-do’s by re-signing offensive lineman Kevin Dotson. Dotson received a 3 year $48 million deal, which gives the Rams around $29 million of cap space left. Now they have 11 picks in next months draft, which creates all kinds of possibilities. There are plenty of stud running backs on the market, but they really don’t need one because they have Karen Williams, nor do they need much offensive skill position help. However, they do need beef up edge rusher, cornerback, and more offensive and defensive line depth. In the NFL, most guys that make out it to outright free agency aren’t like other sports. There’s an element of “reject” to them, that have flaws. For that reason, they should take their chances in the draft, especially since they’ve done well there recently.

As for the Chargers, the rumors have started that they are listening to offer for Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack. Other sources are saying that other teams are waiting for the Bolts to cut those players so they can pounce. I think this is simply a case of the Chargers gauging the value on two high salaried players who could help them clear cap room. I don’t think they are going to cut them, and for those of you that think there is a Harbaugh issue here, there is no reason to think they can’t buy in to Harbaugh’s tough style. For all their salary cap problems, if the Bolts just cut Mike Williams, they’ll be in much better position to clean up their salary cap.

One week after thinking that Gavin Lux was going to cut it at shortstop, the Dodgers had seen enough, and announced Lux was moving to 2nd base and Mookie Betts was going to shortstop. This move seems very shortsighted. Mookie was a 6-time gold glover as an outfielder. We only saw 6-games of Gavin Lux at shortstop in spring training. Isn’t this the time to let him get his confidence up playing the position? They obviously like his bat and want to keep him in the lineup, so why can’t they utilize Miguel Rojas, who is a fine defensive shortstop, when they need the defense? The whole move seems very unnecessary to me, and even jeopardizes the health and effectiveness of one of their best players in Mookie.

How many more hints do the Angels need? Blake Snell is practically begging for the Halos to sign him. His camp is leaking to the media that he prefers to sign with them. Mike Trout is pleading with Arte Moreno to improve the team. Jock Talk LA is reminding them on a weekly basis how idiotic they look right now. Snell would be the ace of the team, and they have the money to do it. Yet somehow, Arte Moreno won’t do it. Nice to see Anthony Rendon back in the lineup yesterday though after sitting it out for about a week. Also glad his other job isn’t getting in the way of him showing up for work.

Well here we are, the PAC-12 Tournament. UCLA will have to win 4 straight games from Wednesday through Saturday if they want to get into the NCAA Tournament. The chances of that happening are like the chances of Jennifer Aniston going out on a date with me this week. Sure the Bruins have beaten Oregon State, Oregon, USC, Washington, and were competitive against Arizona at one point this year. However, this team looks like they have been mailing it in for the past three weeks. Do they have enough talent? Maybe. However, the idea that this team will suddenly gain the motivation and confidence to string together 4 straight wins this week seems just preposterous to imagine. Mick Cronin has been talking about life lessons to his team in the huddle the past couple of weeks, and now you expect me to believe he’s going to change those discussions to working toward getting into the NCAA Tournament? He would truly be the Wizard of Westwood if that happened.

I don’t really understand LA Kings fans. The trade deadline approached last week, and every fan in the week before didn’t want Rob Blake to make a move because they thought he would do something stupid. Then they started seeing other teams make moves, and they started screaming on Twitter that Rob Blake is asleep at the wheel. So which is it? The correct answer is the former. The Kings didn’t really have any cap space to do anything significant. Unless there was an elite goaltender available, which there wasn’t, trading more draft capital for a marginal upgrade would have been pointless. The reality of it is the Kings made their big move in the summer for Pierre-Luc Dubois, and it’s working out terribly. If they are eliminated early in the playoffs, or don’t make it there, they will need a new GM, a new coach, and some re-tooling of the roster.

Finally, why do we keep letting these older people present at Award ceremonies? Don’t get me wrong. I love Al Pacino, but he’s 83 years old. When he announced that Oppenheimer won “Best Picture” at the Oscars last night, I could barely understand what he was saying. These people should probably have to pass some basic test with their cognitive abilities to do this. Otherwise, just let them sit in the crowd and be pretty faces.

Monday Morning Coffee

March 4th, 2024

The Lakers have a Darvin Ham problem, and it reared it’s ugly head again on Saturday night. Finally, the Lakers get a great performance from D’Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura against the Nuggets, yet Ham can’t get out of his own way and benches them both in the 4th quarter. Instead he went with Cam Reddish and Spencer Dinwiddie, neither of which stood a chance guarding a Nuggets player. This team is definitely not as bad as it’s played under Ham with all his weird lineups, but it certainly will never reach it’s ceiling with him making the lineup decisions. I wish Rob Pelinka would go full on Andrew Friedman on him and tell him the lineups he needs to play. Somehow, despite these continuously dumb decisions by Ham, the Lakers are just 2.5 games out of 7th place, and 3.5 games out of 5th place in the West. Their schedule is tough as hell, but if they can lock Ham out of the building for the next few weeks, maybe they have a chance to move up.

There’s good news for the Clippers. Yesterday, they won a tough, physical battle with the Minnesota Timberwolves. It was low scoring, and it was the type of game they haven’t been able to win recently, with that exact length and physicality causing them problems. The bad news however, is that history is suddenly not on their side. Phil Jackson always said there was a rule that you had to win 40 before you lose 20 to be considered an elite team. In fact, 27 of the last 30 NBA Champions have won 40 before they lost 20 games in that season. This season, only the Celtics, Nuggets, Timberwolves, and Thunder have won 40 before they lost 20 this year, which means the NBA Champion will most likely come from that group of teams.

To baseball where the Dodgers have been rolling in Spring Training. winning 9 of their first 11 games. As I’ve mentioned before, nobody cares about the spring training record because it’s meaningless. However, there’s a few key takeaways here. First of all Gavin Lux and Max Muncy are looking like very capable defensive players on the left side of the infield. It’s early, but they appear to be in excellent shape, and been putting the work in for improving defensively there. I’m confident their offense will be there. To nobody’s surprise Shohei Ohtani is already putting on a show, and looks like he will fit in perfectly with Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman. Now hear me out on this one. I realize that the Dodgers do not need Blake Snell, but they should seriously consider signing him given that his price tag is coming way down. I really want this to happen, mostly because I’m just dying to see everyone complain again that the Dodgers are ruining baseball. Still, they really could use him since Yoshinobu Yammamoto is used to a 6-man rotation, Tyler Glasnow has injury history, while Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, and Dustin May will not be available for a while since they are rehabbing from injury. I am completely aware how ridiculous this is, but if the guy is taking $25 million a year with a few opt outs, you have to consider it.

On the other hand, I have no idea what the Angels are doing not signing Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery. Their price is way down, and either one of them would instantly slide into their rotation as the #1 starter. On the bright side though, Anthony Rendon hasn’t said anything stupid in the past week though, which is always nice to see for the PR department. It’s really hard for me to imagine this team winning more than 70 games this season, unless of course they sign one of those front line starters.

What a completely pathetic showing by UCLA Basketball over the weekend. They lost a couple of more games to Washington and Washington State. Their only hope to get in the NCAA Tournament remains to win the Pac-12 Tournament, but your chances of winning the Powerball are higher than that. At this point the season has gone so badly, even Adem Bona might not even be drafted in the 2nd round of the upcoming NBA draft. He may very well need to stay in school for another year, which probably wouldn’t be bad for the Bruins. Ultimately though, other than Bona and Dylan Andrews, I think Mick Cronin can safely try and clean house and recruit heavily in the transfer portal. Unfortunately though, they don’t currently have a class of 2024 recruit that is ranked in the top 100 of the class. I’m not sure the transfer portal can fix this in one year.

It’s very cool, but also kind of surprising to see how much interest Caitlin Clark has created in women’s basketball, and women’s college basketball in particular. The hype around her is real, and not to take away anything from her, but in terms of accomplishments, even Breanna Stewart, Diana Taurasi, and Cheryl Miller accomplished equally as much if not more in college. In Stewart’s case, she even played in the era of social media. However, Clark has created buzz because she is the Steph Curry of women’s basketball, or even the Taylor Swift of the game. She’s more approachable, exciting, and easy to get behind for the average person because she feels relatable. In any case, she’s going to have a great finish to her college career, and I’m sure do great things in the pros as well.

It’s super sad to hear about the passing of NFL Reporter Chris Mortensen. Mortensen was 72 years old, and diagnosed with throat cancer in 2016. He was truly someone that I would almost consider part of my childhood knowing how respected he was covering the NFL for ESPN, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution before that. He was an award-winning journalist and actually a native of Torrance, CA. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family including his wife, Micki, and son, Alex.