Friday, November 24, 2017

Poppa Ball Makes President Trump Look Like a Jerk

Le Var Ball, a loudmouthed, obnoxious braggart who's addicted to the media spotlight, may be the most hated man in the sports world. A former athlete, he has a son, Lonzo, on the Los Angeles Lakers and another, freshman LiAngelo, on the UCLA basketball team. He won't shut up about his sons, constantly boasting, ad nauseum, how great the are.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I couldn't stomach him--until recently. Now he's my hero. I absolutely love the guy. Why? Well, all he did was get sucked into a twitter war with President Trump and then proceeded to wipe the floor with the White House clown.

LiAngelo Ball is one of the three UCLA players recently detained in China after a preseason game and accused of shoplifting. In China at the time for a meeting with the Chinese president, Trump intervened, got the charges dropped, leading to the players being shipped back to Los Angeles, without penalty.

Through a series of tweets, Trump, a bigger egomaniac and blabber mouth than Ball, made it clear that he wanted LeVar to thank him profusely and lavishly praise him. LeVar refused. Clearly his ego wouldn't let him bow down to Trump.

This infuriated the President, who's been blasting Ball with vicious tweets, calling him an "ungrateful fool" and even suggesting that he should have left the UCLA players in China to face the consequences.

As a result, Trump has looked ridiculous, coming across as a small-minded bully who craves ego stroking. Here you have a head of state, squabbling with a private citizen who won't thank him properly. How trivial can you get? Yes, what Trump did was laudable but only an uncouth blowhard like him expects pats on the back for a good deed. What's worse for the President there's an underlying racist angle--big-shot white man picking on a black man with considerably less stature.

Ball comes out of this twitter war looking like the victim, the little guy who stood up to the bully. Trump, on the other hand, looks like the bad guy, enhancing his rep as a self-promoting jerk.

I'm not a Ball fan, but this time I'm firmly in his corner. Anybody who makes our idiot President look like an even bigger idiot gets my vote.


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Memo To Dodgers: Dump Yu Darvish


I wanted to wait a week or so before making this comment to see if I'd cool down. Well, I haven't. What I'm about to say isn't rational. It's mean. It's nasty. It's petty. But it's gut-level. I apologize before even saying it. Here goes:

I hate him. I hate Los Angeles Dodger pitcher Yu Darvish.

I'll never forgive the right-hander for blowing Game 7 of the World Series, at home no less, to the Houston Astros. The city has waited 29 years for another World Series title. Thanks to Damned Darvish, the wait will be even longer

Next spring, when the Dodgers begin their quest for a title, I don't want to see Darvish in a Dodger uniform. In that 5-1, Game 7 loss to the Astros, he surrendered his right to wear a Dodger uniform again. In that critical game, with the weight of the team on his shoulders, he collapsed, he choked.

When the Dodgers picked up Darvish from the Texas Rangers in August he was supposed to be the backup ace to Clayton Kershaw, the gritty, dominant Number Two Pitcher who, everyone figured, just about guaranteed the baseball title was coming to LA.

But I always had doubts about Darvish. Sure he's a four-time All-Star who averages eleven strikeouts per nine innings. But too often he was wild. Even when he won, many times it wasn't pretty. He always seemed to be a borderline ace, the kind that needed a lot of run support, the kind of pitcher you might not be able to count on in the clutch. He didn't dazzle in any of his starts leading up to the World Series, There was no string of games where he gave up just a run or two and only a few hits and looked like he was in total command.

Game 3 of the Series was a red flag. Darvish looked like a batting practice pitcher, getting pounded for four runs in 1 2/3 innings. Great players bring their A game to championship games. Darvish showed up with his D game, triggering a Dodger loss.

Dodger manager Dave Roberts ignored all the Game 3 signs that Darvish didn't have the stuff to baffle Astro hitters and decided to start him in Game 7, the team's biggest game in decades. Roberts will never admit he regrets that decision but you know damn well he does.

In Game 7, Darvish choked again, looking as pitiful as he did in Game 3. He lasted just as long, a meager 1 2/3 innings, giving up five runs, four earned. Kershaw relieved him and mowed down Astro hitters in the middle of the game. Clearly he should have started, not Darvish. That blunder will certainly haunt Roberts.

Even writing about that Series dredges up those post-Series feelings of misery. No question that pain would resurface every time I'd see Darvish in a Dodger uniform. So I don't want to see him in a Dodger uniform again.

This brings to mind something that happened to the Dodgers on the last day of the 1951 season, when they were in Brooklyn, tied with the New York Giants, playing a game to see who would advance to the World Series. Giant slugger Bobby Thompson hit a three-run, walk-off homer to win the game. Dodger pitcher Ralph Branca served up the crucial pitch.

Some bitter Dodger fans morphed into lifelong Branca haters. I know how they feel. Count me in as a lifetime Darvish hater.

Will that hatred wither away? Forget it. Forgiveness is off the table.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Dimwit Trump vs NFL= Bull Crap

President Donald Trump vs the NFL.  What a farce.

This stupid little war is basically what Trump would label FAKE NEWS--a manufactured nothing of a story that's being covered to death by the media.

First let me make this perfectly clear. I hate Trump. He's vile, shallow, despicable, loathsome, shockingly ignorant and woefully corrupt. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Furthermore, he's a world-class liar, a bully, a sexual predator, a con-man and a white supremacist. Though totally unfit for the Presidency, he was voted in by selfish, small-minded Republicans who were seduced by his glittering assortment of lies. By a country mile, he's the worst President in our nation's history.

Considering Trump is doing his damnedest to drag the country down in so many areas, it's inevitable he'd somehow stick his nose into sports. So what he's done is start a juvenile war with the NFL

Trump began the conflict by attacking players who kneel during the pregame performance of the National Anthem, charging that's disrespecting the Flag and the military. He urged team owners to fire the protesters. Of course that would be a violation of the players' constitutional rights but Trump, who's clearly ignorant of the Constitution, has no idea about that.  He has been particularly vicious when talking about QB Colin Kaepernick, who started the kneel-down protest movement last season when he was with the San Francisco 49ers.

For the last two Sundays this conflict has been an irritating distraction at games. With his                    relentless barrage of nasty tweets, Trump inflames patriotic fans, who boo the players who, in turn, angrily defy the President and his supporters with assorted protests during the pregame National Anthem. I don't know about you, but I prefer not to have my sporting events sullied by politics.

Trump created the war by twisting and trampling on Kaepernick's original point. With his kneel-down protest, the QB, who's part African American, aimed to call attention to police brutality against blacks. But Trump blatantly ignored Kaepernick's purpose, claiming the protest was actually a slight against the Flag and the military.

Who's kidding who? Do you think Trump, a bogus patriot and a thoroughly amoral egomaniac, really gives a damn about the Flag or the military being disrespected? Hell, no. All Trump cares about is Trump.

Here's the real reason Trump trumped up this battle with the NFL:

Sources close to the President have revealed he started the squabble with pro football simply to create a distraction, arguably the most popular tactic in the Trump public relations arsenal. When he doesn't want you to focus on Point A he vigorously draws your attention to Point B.

Trump is hoping  this fan-friendly, juicy battle with the NFL will  steer  people away from special prosecutor Robert Mueller's probe into the 2016 Trump election campaign's ties with Russia. Just about every day some damning tidbit leaks out that makes serious against the President and his gang more likely.

Also, Trump blasting America's most popular sport for patriotic reasons is a move geared to delight members of his base, mostly a rural and lower-middle class crowd that appreciates a hearty defense of the Flag and the military.

But if you regard Trump as a cheap imitation of a President, don't get sucked into his dumb little scrap with the NFL. It's not worth your time and energy. Instead focus on everything he doesn't want you to focus on--all the dirt related to the Mueller investigation, dirt that hopefully will get this clown booted out of office.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Clippers' Big Three Bite The Dust

The Clippers' 97-95 loss to the Utah Jazz in the opener of their playoff series in Los Angeles was no ordinary loss. This one was a game-changer, a very ugly game-changer.. 

It's the one that signals the beginning of the end of the Big Three. This signature unit of All-Stars--DeAndre Jordan, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin--has been the heart of the team in last few years. These are the guys who are supposed to power the Clippers to the Western Conference Finals, to the NBA championship.

They haven't done it yet. That Jazz loss says the Big Three doesn't have what it takes.. So, in the off season, when Paul and Griffin are free agents, one or both will be gone.

Bye, bye Big Three. Busting up that core will turn the franchise upside down.

Quite simply, the Big Three isn't good enough to get the job done. They have never been able to power the team past the second round. That Jazz loss says loud and clear that they won't get the job done this year either. 

The Clippers' task this time was exceptionally tough. They had to dispose of the Jazz, a rugged, solid team, before running into that second round buzz-saw known as the Golden State Warriors.

For the Clippers, that opening game should have been a romp. Not only was it at home, but Utah's best player, defensive whiz Rudy Gobert, went down early in the first quarter. Somehow the Clippers lost to an undermanned team that was playing on the road.

Devastating, inexcusable, heartbreaking.

If the Clippers can't beat the Jazz, a fifth seed, under those comfortable circumstances, how could they ever beat a juggernaut like the Warriors who, blessed with three deadly shooters and a phenomenal-utility man, Draymond Green, are in a league of their own? 

In the Jazz game, the Clippers had little defensive intensity. Also, they didn't play smart. Without Gobert, a tough rim-protector, the Clippers should have been crashing the middle over and over and scoring heavily. But that didn't happen. For some reason, the Clippers didn't bring their A game. And once again Blake Griffin was a no-show in the fourth quarter. 

Despite losing the first game, the Clippers, with Gobert out or at half-strength, should still win the Jazz series. But the Clippers have shown their true colors.

They couldn't win that Jazz game in which everything was stacked in their favor. So against the Warriors, where everything is stacked against them?.

You know what's going to happen

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Cal Football and Men's Basketball--Bleak Future

These are dark days for Cal sports fans--and getting darker by the moment..

The fans were still adjusting to the football mess when the men's basketball program
nosedived. After many decades as a Cal fan, I can't remember when both the football and men's basketball programs were both in crisis at the same time.

Football hit rock bottom last fall when the team stumbled to a lousy five-win season. Athletic director Mike Williams.finally had enough of head coach Sonny Dykes, whose ridiculous, one-dimensional approach (all offense, no defense). had been dragging the program down for years. So Dykes was replaced by Justin Wilcox, a former Cal assistant who had lately been a first-class defensive coordinator at Wisconsin.

Regrettably, Dykes left the cupboard bare. The two best offensive players, QB Davis Webb and WR Chad Hansen, turned pro, and there weren't any good defensive players leftover from the Dykes regime Wilcox will be starting from scratch. So fans will be stuck with a team in radical rebuild mode for at least two years. Cal fans were just getting used to the bleak football future when the men's basketball program crashed and burned.

After being shut out of the NCAA tournament, Cal joined the also-rans in the NIT, opening at home against a featherweight Cal State Bakersfield team that the Bears should have destroyed, even with its two top players, Jabari Bird and Ivan Rabb, sidelined with injuries. Yet Cal trailed badly, 44-19, at the end of the first half and went on to lose 73-66.

Pin this loss on head coach Cuonzo Martin, who announced the day after the CSB debacle that he had signed a seven-year contract with Missouri. Obviously he had been in talks with the Tigers while he was supposed to be coaching the Bears in post-season play. No doubt the players knew the coach was bailing out on the team. Clearly, with this coaching change looming, their heads and hearts weren't in that CSB game. So this season ended with an embarrassing, frustrating loss, similar to last season's ugly finale--getting booted out of the NCAA tournament in the first round by an inferior Hawaii team.

At the moment, next season doesn't look promising for men's basketball. There is no head coach and the roster boasts no big-time players, since Bird is a senior and Rabb will likely turn pro. Unless something changes drastically, this team is headed for the bottom of the PAC 12, down there with the football team.

Dark days, Cal fans, nothing but dark days ahead....


Saturday, March 11, 2017

UCLA Basketball Team Crashes Back To Earth

The  UCLA men's basketball team did it again. Building up hopes sky-high, giddy fans had visions of the Final Four dancing in their heads. But, once again, the Bruins won't deliver.

UCLA in the Final Four? Not happening.

The way they've looked in the PAC 12 tournament, they'll be lucky to make it to the Sweet 16. Suddenly they don't look like the team that finished the season in the Top Five, steamrolling the opposition, excelling on both offense and defense. They even beat tough Arizona in Tuscon, something no visitor had done in years.

But that was during the season. In the PAC 12 tournament, the Bruins have come crashing back to earth. They opened the tournament Thursday barely escaping the USC game with a two-point win, a game the Bruins should have lost. With lazy defense and spotty offense, they kept the door open for the Trojans, who consistently stumbled at the entrance and never made it through that door. What really killed the Trojans was their own blunders, not UCLA's skills.

The Bruins continued that downward spiral on Friday, getting pushed around by Arizona. The Bruins were ice-cold from the three-point line and shockingly soft in the middle. The Wildcats owned the paint, often embarrassing the Bruins with easy layups and dunks, winning 86-75. That score is misleading. It wasn't that close. The UCLA offense crumbled and the team doesn't play defense well enough to compensate for a massive offensive breakdown.

So which is the real Bruins, the heavyweight that was throwing knockout punches at the end of the season or the lightweight that wobbled through the PAC 12 tournament? It's hard to predict how the Bruins will do in the NCAA tournament. A favorable draw and some upsets could pave the way for them to make it to the Elite 8. That's possible but not likely. The real Bruins are probably the unit that under-performed in the tournament in that hostile, unfamiliar Las Vegas environment

Once again the primary problem  is coaching--that demon Steve Alford again. Particularly in the Arizona game, Alford was blown away by the Wildcats' head coach Sean Miller. The Bruins weren't well prepared for either SC or Arizona--the coach's fault, of course. Though the Bruins improved on defense late in the season, they still don't play it with the kind of skill and ferocity needed to win championships..

Given how they raised fan hopes, there is going to be some real fan grumbling if UCLA doesn't reach at least the Elite 8. Some fans will be ready to give Alford the boot. He may already be looking for another job. According to rumors, Indiana coach Tom Crean may be headed to Missouri and Alford, a former Hoosier star, may be considering returning to his alma mater, replacing Crean,

So far it's just grapevine chatter. Getting rid of Alford would be complicated and costly, but if the Bruins have a quick, ugly exist from the NCAA tournament, fans may be happy to show him the door, no matter how expensive and will be..

Thursday, February 2, 2017

49ers Hiring GM John Lynch--Stupid Move

San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York has lost his mind.

He continues to undermine the team with blunder after blunder.  His latest is hiring John Lynch as the new general manager. Dumb, dumb, dumb. There is nothing about Lynch that suggests he can lead the Niners, who won just two games last season, out of the deep hole they've been in for years.

The main problem is that Lynch has no experience as a GM. He has never even been a coach. York confounded the stupidity of this hire by signing him to a six-year contract. A Stanford alum, Lynch was an all-pro safety who has been a TV color commentator for Fox since retiring, as a New England Patriot, in 2008. Absolutely nothing he has done in recent years indicates he can rescue this faltering franchise.

The Niners are a train wreck, from top to bottom, with questions at every position. Fixing the Niners would be a nightmare task for even an experienced GM. Can a novice like Lynch do it?  Not a chance.

This idiotic hire is no surprise. York has done this before. A few years ago he collaborated with former GM Trent Baalke to run Jim Harbaugh, the best Niner coach since Bill Walsh, out of town. Then these two bunglers hired incompetent Jim Tomsula as head coach for one year before turning the job over to ineffective Chip Kelly last season.

After Kelly, to no one's surprise, managed just two victories, York kicked him out. Not only that, York finally had enough of Baalke, an abrasive jerk who made a lot of boneheaded personnel moves that helped sink the Niners. York got rid of him too.

With Baalke gone, Niner fans were hopeful. York lined up Atlanta Falcons' offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, architect of the best offense in football, to be the next head coach. Smart move. Was York finally coming to his senses? He answered that question by hiring Lynch.
The Niners are in desperation mode, trying to appease angry, disappointed fans while repairing a broken team. With a few exceptions the Niners' players are awful. They need a smart, experienced GM to scrap the bad players and replace them with good ones. What they've got, however, is an inexperienced GM who's in way over his head.

What will probably happen is that, after a year or two of little or no progress, York will dump
Lynch, pay him big buyout bucks and start the rebuilding process all over again with a new GM.

So brace yourselves Niner fans. Get ready for more dark years, with no relief in sight.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

UCLA's Coach Steve Alford: Not Good Enough

The honeymoon is over for UCLA men's basketball coach Steve Alford.

To fuming Bruin fans he's back to being a bum. Here's one indication. In the backyards of at least a half dozen student homes near the school's Westwood campus, Alford was recently hung in effigy. Some angry guys even use Alford's dangling figure as a target for darts.

What happened? Reality set in. The real Steve Alford surfaced again, and it's not a pretty sight.

On the ropes last season, Alford put all that negativity behind him. He brought in some flashy freshmen-- Lonzo Ball and T J Leaf--fashioned an undefeated preseason, including a heralded victory over top-ranked Kentucky, shot into the Top Five, and even flirted with the No.1 spot. Expectations exploded through the roof. UCLA men's basketball was a hot ticket again.

But after the PAC 12 season began,  the Bruins were slowly exposed. That race-horse, high-scoring offense, built on precision jump-shooting and  modest defense, didn't really work in conference games. The preseason schedule was overloaded with patsies that were easily steamrolled by that power offense. Also, it turned out that Kentucky was good but not No.1 caliber, so that signature victory was tarnished somewhat.
When the Bruins were riding high during preseason, fans were lulled into thinking Alford's offense-heavy plan would keep the team in the Top Five.

Cracks in the UCLA foundation started to show when the Bruins lost to Oregon in Eugene, 89-87. The last- second loss wasn't the problem. What was red flag No.1 was that the Ducks scored 89 points. Then came the home loss to Arizona, 96-85, which spotlighted the Bruins' lousy defense. They couldn't stop dribble penetration to curtail the Wildcats' powerhouse inside game and the Bruins' perimeter defense was terrible.

So they give up 89 points to Oregon,  96 to Arizona , as well as 92 to that win. That's rotten defense. Good teams don't give up that many points. Chalk that up to bad coaching.

The USC road loss was the real killer. UCLA rolled to a 20-10 lead then collapsed when SC switched to a zone. The Bruins' offense was stuck in the mud and their defense was molasses-slow. Alford couldn't make helpful adjustments, so the Bruins dropped another, 84-76, once more surrendering way too many points.

In that loss the Bruins seemed listless and befuddled. Though playing their hated rival, they didn't bother to show up. Again, that's bad coaching. That loss is on Alford.  How could he not have them ready to play a crucial conference game against their worst enemy? How could they play without any spirit against SC?

Another problem. According to two sources, there's turmoil in the Bruins' locker room that has been smoldering since the Oregon loss. Apparently it got worse after the Arizona fiasco and was a significant factor in the SC debacle. The sources haven't been able to pinpoint the players involved since there's an effort to keep a lid on the conflict. Apparently, though, playing time is one of the issues. The sources stressed that the festering bad feelings are interfering with teamwork.

Under Alford, the Bruins are a one-dimensional, offense-heavy team that plays so-so defense  They win by overwhelming teams with their offense. That plan often works with B and C-level teams but rarely with A teams.

For a while, the Bruins did look like an A team, bringing back memories of the dominance of the Wooden era. But this not an elite team. The players aren't good enough. The coach certainly isn't good enough.

This is, at best, a Sweet 16 team. But an Elite 8 or a Final Four Team? No way. Not the way they play defense. Definitely not with Alford as coach, with his indifference to defense and inability to make sound adjustments during games.

UCLA fans should dial down their expectations. With Alford at the helm there's nothing but heartbreak ahead.


Monday, January 9, 2017

Cal Football Fans Pray Chip Kelly Is New Coach

Cal head football coach Sonny Dykes, arguably the worst hire the school history, has finally been canned. Unfortunately, it's four years too late. He's had time to post a rotten 19-30 record and run the program into the ground.

Cal athletic director Mike Williams was fed up with Dykes, who kept looking for other jobs in the off-season, even after signing a four-year-extension last year. During last season, there was interest in him from Baylor and Houston. If either had offered Dykes a job he would have been out the door instantly. Williams finally had enough.

With Dykes out of the way,  who is No.1 on the wish list of every knowledgeable Bear fan?

Chip Kelly, of course.

He's the innovator who helped revolutionize offensive football, accelerating the pace and the number of plays, while at the University of Oregon. He wasn't as successful as a pro coach but clearly he can still be a winner at the college level, which is less demanding. He's certainly a significant upgrade over Dykes.

Happily, Kelly is available.

After just one season, he was recently fired by the San Francisco 49ers.  He was doomed from the start, inheriting a horrible team and having to work with general manger Trent Baakle, an infamous jerk who's famed for helping run a great coach, Jim Harbaugh, out of town.

Niner head man Jed York just gave Baalke the boot, so it was likely that Kelly would follow him out the door. So Kelly is now free and has said he's open to anything, which means he wouldn't mind returning to college.

More good news, Because of contracts with the Niners and his previous employer, the Philadelphia Eagles, he is set to earn $6.5 million next year. So Cal wouldn't have to offer him a pile of money and could structure a deal that would be favorable to the athletic department budget. That's good because Cal can't offer much, considering Dykes' buyout is nearly $6 million,

Cal has to sign a new coach and fast. Williams is saying he would like to have one in place by the end of the week.

Word from the inside is that the AD is already on the Kelly case, that dumping Dykes now, rather than weeks ago, is due to Kelly's sudden availability. National Signing Day is just a few weeks away, on Feb.1. Cal has a sixteen-player class that could bolt if the Bears sign the wrong coach.

Other names have been mentioned for the job, including Cal offensive coordinator Jake Spavital, Washington offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith and Wisconsin defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, who was an assistant at Cal in the Jeff-Tedford era..

Those guys would be OK but none has the clout of Kelly, who would be the best thing to happen to the Cal program in many decades.