Monday Morning Coffee

October 17, 2022

Here we are again, enduring another painful October of Dodger baseball. The Boys in Blue lost the NLDS to their little brother, 3 games to 1, after a pair of disappointing and devastating losses over the weekend. The fans are pissed, and they should be, since a 111-win team couldn’t even win a playoff series. I’m not sure we should be all that surprised though. In ten straight years of being in the playoffs, the Dodgers have one World Series title, and just three World Series appearances. When the stakes are the highest, the team isn’t performing. Why? It has nothing to do with personnel. It has everything to do with organizational philosophy and approach. Even if you have a great bullpen, using them as early as the 3rd inning on a nightly basis is never a good idea. They are relievers for a reason. It’s especially not a good idea when your starter is dominating through 5 innings. The Dodgers also didn’t get much out of Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts, and Trea Turner until game 4. Why? Because they actually started playing small ball and manufacturing runs in game 4. Had they done this earlier and not relied on the same “wait for the 3-run homer” analytics that got them through the regular season, they would still be playing today. This also has nothing to do with Dave Roberts. This is a strategy and philosophy that is dictated from Andrew Friedman, and Roberts simply is executing what he is told. This is the extreme version of modern day baseball. The Dodgers might have $160 million to spend this offseason, but it doesn’t matter if they don’t change their approach come October. Since nothing has changed in 10 years, why would I think anything would change next year?

Something also need to be said about LA sports fans in this case. Fans are outraged. The outrage is that a 111-win team could be this kind of a post-season failure. While they do have a right to be disappointed and upset with the inability to capitalize on postseason opportunities, there is an element of baseball that is a crapshoot. You should expect to compete for championships every year in LA, even in baseball. However, it’s not the NBA, where your talent is everything, and if you have the talent there’s no excuse not to win. It’s also much harder to win in baseball because of all the intangibles, especially timing. For all the success the Astros have had in the last decade, they only have 1 World Series win to show for it. And they cheated to get it. That’s how hard winning is in baseball. It’s not fair to expect a tyrannical dynasty per se, but it is fair to expect the Dodgers to change their approach to the postseason when their approach hasn’t been working.

To the NFL, where the Rams got back in the win column yesterday against the Carolina Panthers. The team hasn’t been looking all that sharp, but clearly the best way to resolve this is to play a team is crummy as the Panthers. The Rams still have offensive line issues, a limited running game, and no deep threat beyond Cooper Kupp. Some of this is fixable if they can bring in OBJ, but they’ll have to both get healthier on the o-line, and find some other solutions than they currently have from within their roster. The OBJ saga is like watching an on again, off again, couple flirt with each other for years, inevitably knowing that the two of them will end up together. OBJ would definitely be one solution, but another solution doesn’t appear to be Cam Akers, who apparently wants out and is not comfortable with his role.

Elsewhere around the NFL in week 6, Tom Brady is probably thinking that he didn’t leave his super model wife to lose on Sunday to Kenny Pickett and the Steelers. Death, taxes, and 49ers players getting injured every year. The Niners got punked by the Falcons. The Browns and Patriots fans came together in the Pats win, and chanted “f*** the Yankees!” Nice to see our country coming together on that one. If Aaron Rodgers had All-State instead of State Farm Insurance, he would probably have been better protected and the Packers wouldn’t have lost to the Jets. Tua is out of concussion protocol, but the Dolphins aren’t out of hell yet, losing to the Vikings. Matt Ryan finally did not look like the worst QB in the league, as the Colts took down the Jags. The Eagles took down the Cowboys and it’s suddenly looking 2017 all over again with a 6-0 record.

In the NBA, the Lakers are about to start the season on Tuesday, after a 1-5 pre-season. Russell Westbrook got told he was coming off the bench, and suddenly, his hamstring started to ache. Nothing suspicious there. Then there’s Dennis Schroeder, who apparently might be out for a while with a finger injury. No joke, this team could easily start the season 1-5, and 4-9 with the looks of their schedule. It’s a mine field, there’s a ton of distractions with the Westbrook situation, and the defense is quickly looking as bad as it did towards the end of last year. I can’t say I’ve got a great feeling about this team, until they are able to offload Russ for some capable role players, and I don’t have much confidence that’s gonna happen anytime soon.

To the college ranks where the dream is over. USC and UCLA won’t meet each other both undefeated in a few weeks, after USC lost to Utah. You certainly can’t blame this loss on the referees, even though I know most of you want to find those Pac-12 referees and burn their houses down, like a soccer fan from a 3rd world country would. There were horrible calls on both sides, and the Trojans had plenty of opportunities to win, blowing a 14-point lead twice, and then another lead with 6 minutes left. The Trojans also should have started using timeouts with 1:30 left, ultimately getting the ball back into Caleb Williams’ hands. Instead, they relied on their defense, which is like relying on Russell Westbrook’s defense these days. It’s still possible for the Trojans to sneak into the CFP, but they will need UCLA to keep winning until the play them, win the rest of their games, and chaos to ensue within the teams ranked ahead of them.

On the other hands, UCLA didn’t play but they continued to move up the ranks in the AP Poll. In fact, don’t look now, but it’s not out of the question for the Bruins to make the CFP. That would be a whole new level of unexpected, considering we all wanted Chip Kelly to be ejected from the universe about six weeks ago.

Elsewhere around College Football, Alabama got upset by Tennessee on Saturday. This is the worst thing to happen to Bama fans since they found out it is illegal to marry your cousin in 13 states. Michigan ran all over Penn State, and suddenly nobody minds Jim Harbaugh anymore. Notre Dame couldn’t even score points against lowly Stanford. The Irish haven’t been this embarrassed since they played last week.

Finally, House of The Dragon went down last night with episode 9 of the season. Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see it, so read no further if you plan on watching later. Rhaenys could have ended this whole thing by going dracarys on Alicent at the end of the episode, but she apparently showed mercy. If we know anything from Game of Thrones, usually that gets you killed. I like how all of us have become ok with incest on the show, but when it comes to a foot fetish, we consider that disgusting.
Rhaenyra did everything she could to prevent this. Tried peace, proposed marriages and alliances and still, they usurped her throne. Whatever war crimes she’s about to commit, I’m on her side.

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