Monday Morning Coffee

August 28, 2023

USC took the field on Saturday night against San Jose State to open the season. The Trojans earned a decisive victory as you would have expected in Week 0. However, coincidentally, “0” is also an excellent description of the level the Trojan defense played at. USC couldn’t stop the run, giving up massive gains on the ground late in the game, while also giving up an average of over 4 yards per carry. They had a huge busted coverage at the end of the 2nd quarter, and had 5 penalties on defense and special teams. Caleb Williams is still phenomenal with his four touchdown passes, but if USC has plans to win the PAC-12 and go to the College Football Playoff, they have a lot of work to do on the defensive end. Of course Lincoln Riley defended the group, but you could have taken everything he said from last year early on, and just replayed it this year.

Elsewhere around College Football, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame had a statement win over Navy in their Week 0 opener. It must be some kind of a disrespect from the Football Gods if Notre Dame ever loses a game in Ireland. Sam Hartman looks solid, throwing 4 touchdown passes, and the offensive line couldn’t have looked any better. The Irish should start 4-0 before the schedule gets real. They’ll have showdowns against Ohio State, USC, and Clemson, who are all pre-season top 10 teams. This is probably a 10-2 or 9-3 team going to a good bowl game, but probably not going to the College Football Playoff.

To baseball, where this might have been the worst week in the history of the Angels. Shohei Ohtani tears his UCL, putting the future of his pitching career in question, and Mike Trout went back on the injured list with a hand injury. Seeing Perry Minasian hold a press conference announcing this was like watching an episode of The Office. Arte Moreno is so cheap, I’m surprised he didn’t say that he’s taking the team to Zankou Chicken after the game to cry in their hummus, while being limited to dark meat and one pita each. In all seriousness, this franchise is fundamentally flawed. Over dependent on two stars, who’s durability is now in serious question, and with little investment in infrastructure around them. Sorry Arte, this isn’t the NBA. The only good news for the Angels is that this new injury may lower Ohtani’s off-season market value, to a point where the Angels might actually be able to compete for his services. That bad news though is that if they can’t put a winning team on the field with him making $30 million a year, what makes them think they can put a winning team on the field with him making $50 million a year or more?

As for the Dodgers, they took 2 of 3 from the Red Sox, and have all but put the NL West division away. Julio Urias struggled a little on Saturday again, which is still somewhat concerning, but the Dodgers need to find a way to get their pitching in better form over the next month. It’s certainly been better than earlier in the season, but it all comes down to the health and performance of Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias, Lance Lynn, and Bobby Miller. As for how the Ohtani injury impacts their off-season outlook, it only further reinforces what I thought before: there is no baseball player who is worth a $500 million contract. Ohtani would certainly brings a level of marketability to the Dodgers, but who knows if he will ever be a durable front line starting pitcher again. The success rate after two Tommy John surgeries is low, so why would we think this would be any different? Sure he’s phenomenal as a DH, but the Dodgers could easily get 5-6 really good players for that price.

Congratulations to El Segundo on winning The Little League World Series. Luis Lappe hit a walk-off home run to clinch it in dramatic fashion. Can you imagine being 12-years old and experiencing something like that? That kid is going to be spending the next few weeks visiting the likes of Disneyland and The White House. Hopefully someone explains to Joe Biden what actually happened 50 times so he can remember.

The Rams finished up their pre-season slate by getting demolished on Saturday by the Broncos, 41-0. Pretty much anybody that played in that game should be cut, or never see much time after that embarrassment. I’m mildly concerned about the inexperience, especially on the defensive side of the football. I’m also worried that Aaron Donald said he’s not where he wants to be about a week ago, Cooper Kupp might be coming off injury, and who knows what Matthew Stafford will look like considering we haven’t seen him in an NFL game in a while. The over/under is 6 wins which I thought is way too low, but now I’m wondering if Vegas knows something that we do not!

I love seeing how much Austin Reaves has improved his game. He looks like he’s getting better and better with every FIBA game I see him play. The USA has had some close calls, but you gotta remember, all the international teams have NBA players too. It’s pretty difficult to win without sending our very best players. France has NBA players too but they lost early. Nic Batum said he’s never been more ashamed to wear a jersey. I don’t know what he’s talking about though. He should be way more ashamed to walk around in a Clipper jersey in Los Angeles.

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