New Regime….Same ole’ Browns

The agonizing existence of  being a Cleveland Browns fan has taken an even darker turn with the performance of Carson Wentz for the Philadelphia Eagles.  You know Wentz ? The guy that the new Browns brain-trust publicly stated would be no better than the 20th best quarterback in the NFL at his peak.

After three weeks of games, the Browns have lost two mediocre quarterbacks to injury and have watched Wentz win three straight games for an Eagles team that suddenly looks like a squad that has a chance to be something special. To add insult to injury Wentz beat Cleveland in the season opener flawlessly dissecting the Browns secondary. Wentz has been superb in his three starts resulting in three wins. He has thrown FIVE touchdowns with no interceptions and has completed 64 percent of his passes. What has been even more impressive is the veteran-like poise he has shown in leading a squad that was left for dead by most before the season started.

The Browns netted several draft choices in dealing the number two pick in the draft to the Eagles. At first glance it “seemed” like a good move for a team that is deficient at virtually every position where someone named Joe Thomas isn’t playing. But, when digging deeper we should have known this move would be a mistake.

From 2011-2014 the Browns accumulated picks. The previous regime took pride in the fact they could flip high draft picks for multiple picks, telling the faithful that these selections would provide the depth to make the Browns a contender. Here we sit with not ONE player taken in the first or second rounds of 2011-2014 drafts still on the roster. Do you realize how difficult it is to screw up THAT many selections. If you were actually trying to fail, you couldn’t miss on that many. Those picks turned into bird droppings. All the while teams selected players like Odell Beckham Junior, Khalil Mack, Derek Carr  and now Carson Wentz.

As a Dodger fan I watched current Browns money-ball guru Paul DePodesta gut the Dodgers for cheaper and what he deemed more efficient options. He opted for depth instead of true talent. Some of it can be forgiven since he worked for Frank McCourt, but it was the DePodesta philosophy on full display and he lasted only two years before being laughed out-of-town.

I wonder how long this experiment lasts before the number crunchers are ridden out on a rail. New Head Coach Hue Jackson said before the season the goal is to “win the Super Bowl.” Pump the brakes buddy. This team hasn’t finished above .500 since 2007 and continue to fluctuate between 3-and 5 wins. This franchise is an abyss. I am sick of hearing all these new Browns regimes talk about how things are going to be different. They need to show me. The product they are delivering is pathetic. The time for talk is when you aren’t an embarrassment to the sport.

We won’t know the full extent of the Wentz to Philly for picks trade until the Browns actually make the picks. Wide receiver Corey Coleman from Baylor seems like a pretty good receiver but he is now going to miss several weeks with a broken wrist. When all of the picks are made, then and only then will we be able to adequately judge the Wentz deal.

But, I got to tell you, early indications are telling me, Carson Wentz was a quarterback that would have worked in Cleveland, and the brainiacs in Brea, screwed it up again.

Giants collapse is historic in scope as Dodgers surge

The more I rip on the guy, the more his merry-band-of-do-gooders proves me wrong. I am still not a fan of many of Andrew Friedman’s moves but I would be foolish not to acknowledge the Dodgers tremendous second-half run which has led to a 4-game lead of the San Francisco Giants with 25 games left to play.

This collapse by San Francisco is something of legend. And, make no mistake this is a collapse. Our favorite story-telling play-by-play man, the venerable Vin Scully alluded to it on Monday night calling the Giants collapse one of the “strangest things he has seen in his 67 years in the game.”

Lets dissect the Giants sub-par play, something that brings smiles to all Dodger Blue faces…..

First, after compiling the best record in baseball at 57-33 on July 10th, the Giants have turned into the worst team in baseball. No, really, since that date the Giants are 17-31 and that is the worst record in baseball. How did it happen ? Well, the Giants have under-performed in almost EVERY statistical category in baseball.

On July 10th the Giants had four players with an OPS better than .800. Since then not one player has on OPS better than .800. Madison Bumgarner hasn’t been very good either. He had a 1.94 ERA before the All-Star Break, since then a pedestrian 3.66 ERA. Jeff Samardjiza’s ERA is nearly 4 and-a-half and Johnny Cueto has been good not great going from a 2.47 ERA in the first half to a 3.90 ERA in the second half.

As much as you want to focus on the pitching struggles the Giants collapse is all about their hitting. Buster Posey hasn’t homered in 40 games. Hunter Pence is only hitting .231 since coming off the DL and Brandon Crawford is only hitting .242 in the last month.

Were the Giants beyond their ski’s in the first half ? Giants fans will tell you “yes.” But, the fact remains they were the toast of baseball. San Francisco had a 4-game lead on the Chicago Cubs on July 10th. Now, the Cubs don’t even see them in the rear-view mirror.

On June 26th the Giants had an 8.5 game lead on the Dodgers. On that same day the Dodgers learned Clayton Kershaw and his 1.79 ERA had a back ailment and was going on the shelf. Here we sit 10 weeks later the Dodgers have picked up 12.5 games on the Giants and are 4-clear of their rivals with 25 games left.

The Dodgers have done it with superb bullpen work (gulp) ! I can not believe how well the Dodgers pen has performed. I not only buried this group aside from Jansen but I walked them through the town-square and had the faithful holler “SHAME SHAME SHAME” over and over. What a performance by a group of guys who I had given up on. If this was a two or three work resurgence I would hold my platitudes. This group has done this ALL SEASON. Well done boys ! But, I better not see Pedro Baez in a tie-game in the post-season with other options available.

Friedman’s plan to strengthen through depth has worked. Double and Triple-A call-ups have performed, most notably Andrew Toles who has been a revelation. Friedman had Toles in Tampa before Toles almost behaved himself out of the game. But, Toles cleaned up his act and Friedman never forgot the skill-set. Kudos to Friedman. Julio Urias and Jose DeLeon are future stand-outs in the Dodgers rotation. I understand the need to monitoring usage and pitch count, but I want to see these guys if the Dodgers are fortunate enough to get to October. I better not see the 76 million dollar busts in Anderson and McCarthy, I better not see it.

While I was not a fan of the Ellis for Ruiz  and Hill and Reddick for three power arms. Now that they are here, I believe this helps the Dodgers if they play in October. Despite being predominantly left-handed on offense, the Hill trade really helps the Dodgers rotation, especially with his eminence Sir Clayton on his way back.

It is now a sprint and the Dodgers are rolling. 4 games up on the Giants with 25 to play. Los Angeles and San Francisco play 6 games against one another including the final three in city by the bay.

I still can’t believe the Dodgers are in this spot. I still don’t believe this team is more talented than the teams we had from 2013-2015 but this team may be better than all those clubs. They have that IT factor that plays in October. As for the Giants, they are just scuffling to be relevant in October.

Reddick’s struggles and Chooch’s auspicious debut…..

As much as I want to I will not regale you with another anti-Andrew Friedman diatribe. I’m simply spinning my wheels at this point. But I do have some thoughts regarding his newest acquisitions and whether the Dodgers are better for it.

I was not a fan of the Rich Hill/Josh Reddick deal that sent three power arms to the Oakland Athletics. But now that they are here I want them to do well. Hill looked great against the Giants on Wednesday. Six shut-out innings with a nasty curveball and a ton of first pitch strikes. For a team that needs innings from their starting rotation, Hill is a welcome addition.

Josh Reddick on the other hand has had a disastrous start to his Dodger career. It seems big moments are finding him and he is not coming through. Dodger Nation is turning on him and it reminds me a lot of the venom much beloved Juan Uribe faced. Of course Uribe spent the first two years of his Dodger career languishing on the bench before turning things around and becoming a fan favorite. I believe in Reddick. I fully expect him to start playing better. Change of scenery is easy for some guys, and not easy for others. It’s clear Reddick is having a tough time. I don’t have any empirical evidence that guarantees Reddick will perform at a high level, but I have a “feeling.” He is too good a ball-player to be playing this poorly. It’s tough to be patient during a pennant race. It’s easier to bury a guy who is stinking up the joint. Give Reddick a break. I have a feeling he is going to come through in a big spot for the Dodgers. It’s a gut feeling.

GM Andrew Friedman pissed off the natives once again with a head-scratching move on Thursday afternoon. He traded the longest tenured and much beloved teammate AJ Ellis for Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz. On the surface it appears to be a trade for one aging catcher for another, but when you dig deeper it was much more than that.

Ellis was the most beloved Dodger in the locker room. He is Clayton Kershaw’s best friend. He was the undeniable leader in the clubhouse and the Dodgers trade him for a small upgrade at back-up catcher ? Yep, that is what sabermetricians do. They de-value chemistry and simply plug-in players like robots. While Ruiz is a better right-handed bat in this left-handed hitting heavy line-up, he is not so much of an upgrade that it warranted trading a much beloved figure.

Ruiz will help so we don’t have to watch Yasmani Grandal not shift his weight on a ball in the dirt and let it get by him for the tying or winning run to score. Ironically, in Ruiz’s first game who let two Kenley Jansen balls get by him in the 9th inning of a one-run game that allowed the Chicago Cubs to tie and eventually beat the Dodgers in 10 innings. An auspicious start for sure, but certainly not indicative of the type of player I expect Ruiz to be. I think he will do well. He will help, but it was another in a series of peculiar Friedman moves.

I will leave you with this. Baseball is played by human beings who battle for 162 games in a foxhole. When you haphazardly throw away one of the soldiers disrupting the continuity of the “team” you are flirting with danger. Chemistry in baseball matters. Winning teams have it, losing teams search for it. The Dodgers had won the first two games of their pivotal series with the Giants and Friedman sent shock waves through his own team by trading away a guy who meant so much to them from a personal perspective. This is not being “soft” or too sentimental. Winning is fragile. When you don’t respect the process, when you meddle when it’s not needed, you can disrupt this fragile concoction. Friedman and company are unconventional. They believe in a baseball process that has only really been mastered at the World Championship level by Theo Epstein. By not valuing chemistry and camaraderie, Friedman has served notice, this is his franchise and chemistry be damned. He will do things as his eminence sees fit, regardless if whether it makes any baseball sense.

As always Bleeding Dodger Blue…….

Trump supporters remain defiant

They are immovable. They are unshakeable. They will not compromise and they don’t see why they have to. They are supporters of Donald Trump and they are all around us.

Calling them dumb, idiots, morons only emboldens them. Call it the US against THEM mentality. This whole Trump phenomenon was borne out of the Republican party’s inability to stick to principle and now the rest of us are paying the price.

During past elections Democrats have called Republican candidates racist, misogynistic, hate-mongers and so-on and so-forth. Whether it was true or not didn’t matter to Democrats in their zest for victory. The problem is they now face a true demagogue and their haranguing about Trump’s hate-filled speech is falling on deaf ears.

There is a core Trump constituency that will not waver. They see supporting Trump as a badge of honor. It is not unlike his candidacy, it’s not easily explainable and is not grounded in reason. It just is.

Every time you think Trump’s outlandish words will catch up to him, the more his supporters dig in and defend him. It truly is the bed of nails approach to politics. If you step on one nail, it hurts A LOT. But if you step on 300 nails the pain is muted. Trump says so many disparaging and awful things, that one doesn’t have the time to process the first before another controversial comment is unleashed.

There is a core group of Trump supporters who like him because they DETEST Hillary Clinton. They HATE her. You could run the devil against her, and his supporters would worship Lucifer. She is a flash-point for people who don’t like the sell-outs from our politicians. She is the epitome of a sell-out.

While Trump is off-the-rails with his rude, sexist comments, Clinton “tries” to do what her husband Bill did so effectively. She tries to be nuanced in her skirting of the truth. Her problem, the electorate is on to her and she is  seen as an evasive politician who isn’t being square with them. Her problem is she does have skeletons in the basement and really can’t be forthcoming. Plus she lacks the charisma of Bill to calm the waters.

Even with her transgressions, there is no doubt she knows her stuff. She truly is a policy wonk who understands complex issues at a highly intellectual level. You may not agree with her approach, but her intellect to decipher complex governmental issues is in-arguable.

When it comes to Trump, I am finding it difficult to understand the allure. He refuses to show us his taxes which throws all of his claims of being so rich into question. This week the New York Times exposed Trump’s supposed largesse as one big shell game. The investigative report showed the self-proclaimed billionaire is 650 million dollars in debt.

Trump’s 80 million dollar fundraising haul in July is also a shell-game. It turns out only 36 million dollars came in for Trump while 44 million when to the Republican National Committee. Now the RNC could choose to give that money to Trump, or delegate the monies to House and Senate candidates who are at-risk of losing their seats.

Trump can not articulate how he will do all of the various big government projects he will take on. He can not unilaterally build a wall along the southern border. He can’t make Mexico pay for it. He can’t articulate how he is going to beat ISIS. He can’t tell us how he is going to revamp ObamaCare to cover even more people. He recently said he wants to double what Clinton is proposing in infrastructure spending to roughly 1 trillion dollars to rebuild bridges and roads. But, when pressed on how he is going to pay for it he said, “he will start a fund where private financiers invest to rebuild the roads.” A fund ? And, his recent verbal foible in not understanding that Russia was already in Ukraine is simply inexcusable. Today Trump said publicly he is not flip-flopping on his deportation plans for 11 million illegals. This is in direct contrast to a his campaign spokesman who said Trump is pivoting on his deportation plan…….Huh ?

All of these foibles don’t matter to the 40 percent of Americans that love him. They don’t care. He is different. He is uncouth. He doesn’t care what you think of him and the more outrageous the comment the more he is loved.

Many of his followers have been so alienated and disenfranchised by the political system that they don’t care. They will embrace an authoritarian and worry about the ramifications later.

Those of us that are sane can lament, ridicule, castigate and berate. It won’t work. You know what also won’t work, reason

Dodgers lose leverage in trade deadline deals……

 

The Los Angeles Dodgers trade deadline moves may in fact help them get into the post-season as a wildcard or possibly a division winner. But, I believe they lost more than they gained in parting with three power arms from their system.

By picking up Rich Hill and Josh Reddick along with a couple of other relief pitchers (Josh Fields and Jesse Chavez)  the Dodgers slightly improved their now, but lost valuable pieces that could be used as trade bait this winter.

With Clayton Kershaw on the shelf for who knows how long, the Dodgers went for it on Monday. The problem is this team was not worthy of such an aggressive play. Their recent spate of solid performance, is far from a World Series contender. Their record and their proximity to the Giants in the standings is fools gold. The Dodgers were better equipped for a deep post-season run in 2013-2015. If these moves were made then, fine. Those teams were close.  But this year they have way too many question marks and inconsistencies. The outfield is a convoluted mess. Puig has been jettisoned. Ethier is injured. Joc is thrilling but one-dimensional. AGone is aging, Utley is old and Grandal hits home runs, but can’t block a ball in the dirt with the winning run at third and two outs in a tie game in the 8th. This team has way too many holes to be mentioned in the same breath as the Cubs, Nats and even the Giants.

The Chicago Cubs are far and away the best team in the National League. They not only have the best line-up, but they made three trades in the last three weeks that solidified what was already a better than average bullpen. Chicago has Aroldis Chapman closing, they added lefty Mike Montgomery as a specialist southpaw along with Travis Wood. They already had Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon and now they add side-armer Joe Smith. The Cubs got much better.

Throw in the Washington Nationals adding Mark Melancon and you have two teams who I believe are better equipped to winning the pennant than the Dodgers. The Giants even improved themselves by adding left-handed specialist Will Smith and lefty starter Matt Moore.

The Dodgers were unwilling to trade their “best” prospects and for that I applaud them. But, Grant Holmes, Frankie Montas and Jharel Cotton were highly regarded power arms. The Dodgers traded them for a two-month rental of an aging outfielder and a left-handed pitcher, who is good, but hasn’t proven to be consistent over time and  is currently on the disabled list with a recurring blister problem.

It’s obvious the Dodgers couldn’t get Chris Sale or Chris Archer without giving up Julio Urias or Jose De Leon. I am glad the Dodgers didn’t part with either of them. But, I would have preferred the Dodgers wait this out, hope Kershaw comes back and see if the last three weeks of pitching magic can continue without trading Holmes, Montas and Cotton.

I supported the notion that the accumulation of prospects would make it possible for a run at Jose Fernandez in the off-season. Including all three of these prospects for Fernandez and including De Leon might have gotten the Dodgers the big prize. Now, any dream scenario about getting Fernandez is gone without depleting the entire farm.

I don’t disagree with trying to improve this team right now. But, losing three power arms for a couple rentals on a team that is not of championship quality made no sense. Especially when accumulating assets and flipping them for Jose Fernandez this winter made more sense.

As always Bleeding Dodger Blue….

Dodgers: Just when I was out they pull me back in

From the outset I haven’t really thought much of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ever since their despicable December in which the front office thought the status quo for the bullpen was acceptable I have not had much faith in the 2016 version of our beloved Boys in Blue.

With a keen eye toward the future I have enjoyed the season knowing the Dodgers were not in the same class as the San Francisco Giants and that AT BEST the Dodgers might garner a wild card berth.

But here I sit on July 22nd and something peculiar is happening. The Dodgers are playing much better than the sum of their parts and the Giants are going through a July Swoon, delaying the inevitable by one month.

With no Kershaw and a line-up that mirrors the days of Danny Heep and Tracy Woodson, the Dodgers are 11 games above .500 and sit at 53-42 playing fantastic baseball at The Ravine. Even without Kershaw the Dodgers starting rotation has been serviceable over the last few weeks. Justin Turner is on a roll and my man Corey Seager is showing why the Dodger faithful may have found their version of a Posey in San Francisco or a Jeter in New York. No, I am not talking about MVP’s and Championships yet, I am talking about a true “face of the franchise.”

The bullpen, which has been the bane of the Dodgers organization since 2013 has performed exceptionally well since the beginning of May. I can’t believe how well they have pitched. I am shocked, stunned, flummoxed etc…..I still don’t believe they can keep this up but so far so good.

The Giants appeared to be on the verge of running away with the division and were going to give the Cubs a run for the best record in the National League. But, suddenly the Giants rotation looks a little thin. Jeff Samardjiza has morphed into the guy that flirted with a near 6.00 ERA in Chicago last year. Peavy is old and inconsistent and Matt Cain’s best days are behind him. That leaves Madison Bumgarner who is a stud and the mercurial Johnny Cueto who started the season 13-1 but I can feel a second-half meltdown on the horizon. If this sounds delicious if you are a Dodger fan, wait until we go over their bullpen. The middle relief has been inconsistent over the last six weeks, showing a penchant for giving up the crooked number and with Santiago Casilla seemingly wanting to give the closer job away, the Giants have some real issues at the back-end of their pen.

The Giants every day starting line-up has been problematic as well. Their spiritual leader Hunter Pence has been out nearly two months with a torn hamstring and is a few weeks away from being back in a major league uniform. Free-agent signee Denard Span has not had a good year and perennial super-star Buster Posey is having a down year for him, take it from someone who has him on their fantasy baseball squad. The concussion symptoms of Joe Panik have kept him out for several weeks. If not for the Brandon’s, Belt and Crawford, the Giants would be in serious trouble.

I type this with the Dodgers have just beaten the Nationals 6-3 and having taken two-of-three from the Nats on the road to wrap up a rare successful road-trip. The Giants have lost 5-in-a-row and look like they are taking on water. The Dodgers sit only 4 games out of first in the National League West. Three weeks ago they were 8 back and I thought the Giants could have started counting down their magic number by August, not so fast.

The injury to Kershaw throws a wrench into the Dodgers division title hopes, but could this be the year where I expect NOTHING from my beloved Boys in Blue and they muster the guts and guile to give us something to remember ? Hmmmm, can’t wait to find out.

Quite the conundrum for someone who resides in the DubNation but loves the Dawg Pound

Unlike many in Cleveland who felt a tremendous surge of joy and glee when LeBron James finally brought a championship to The Land, my feelings took a much more circuitous route.

I am a life-long Golden State Warrior fan who grew up a stones throw from the former Oakland Alameda County Coliseum, as well as a life-long Cleveland Browns fan who lived and died with the team through Red-Right 88, The Drive, The Fumble, The Move. So, here I sit, devastated from a fan’s perspective that my Dubs could have silenced all the doubters and nay-sayers, but instead lost three straight games at the most important time of the year and succumbed to Cleveland and King James along with his merry group of bandits.

I see friends who I correspond with during the football season rejoicing with that joy that only being an invested supporter of a franchise can bring, yet I have nothing to say to them. Their joy is my pain.

I am still numb. A win in either Game 5, 6 or 7 would have meant that the Charles Barkley’s, Chris Russo’s and Colin Cowherd’s of the world would have had to shut their traps and give the Dubs their due. A title would have validated a team, a franchise that had been questioned from the very moment they won last year’s championship. All the DubNation heard was, “if Cleveland was at full strength they would have schooled the Warriors.” That was hanging in the balance over the final three games of the series. Yet the Warriors couldn’t deliver. I am not one to believe the Warriors title needed validation, but I did want for all the noise-makers around the country.

A week ago the Warriors were sitting with a 3-1 series lead knowing that no one in the history of the NBA had blown such a lead in the NBA Finals. At the time the Warriors had blitzed Cleveland in Ohio and it appeared the Warriors would wrap it all up at home. Then Draymond was suspended, Kyrie Irving and James combined for 82, Cleveland jumped out to a 31-9 lead, and James had a block for the ages while the Warriors went scoreless for the final 4:39 of the season and it was over.

Poof ! Done

This whole meltdown thing had to be shocking for the bandwagon crowd, but for those of us that love this game we knew this thing wasn’t over, even after Game 4. But none of us actually thought it WOULD happen. It was shocking. It was stunning.

The Cavaliers will have a parade on Wednesday where the loyal fans of Cleveland will celebrate their first championship of any kind in 52 years. Many of those celebrating will be Dawg Pound faithful, for them I am thrilled. They have had to endure a wretchedness that only Art Modell can bring. Sitting in one of those cars being honored will be Earnest Byner. One of my favorite Browns of all time, he was stripped by Jeremiah Castille at the 3-yard line in the waning moments of the 1987 AFC Championship game resulting in a second gut-wrenching AFC title game loss for the Browns. Byner will be applauded and honored by a fan base that simply wants to cheer for a man who gave his all but came up on the wrong side of history. I will applaud and cheer for Byner, a Cleveland Brown legend.

The rest of it will be too much, the wound is still open, the emotions still to raw. As Steph Curry said on Monday when asked when he will get over the Game 7 loss, “I will get over when we win another one.”

So true Steph, so true

I live in the DubNation but proudly reside in the Dawg Pound

Excuses won’t win an NBA Championship; playing better will

It wasn’t the refs.

It wasn’t the NBA headquarters.

It wasn’t a conspiracy.

It was Cleveland.

If you call yourself a Warriors fan and you are blaming the Warriors predicament on some vast right-wing conspiracy, take a seat and get some knowledge.

The Warriors have been pushed to the limit in these NBA Finals for one reason and one reason alone. The greatness and dominance of LeBron James. Yes, I said it. LeBron James, who was roundly vilified and ripped for his passive play in Game 4 has come out with reckless abandon in Games 5 & 6. His controlled aggression and play-making ability has dictated the game and tempo for his Cavaliers. His decision-making has been impeccable as he distributes when he needs and attacks when he sees a sliver of space. To not admit as much is being blinded by fandom.

Warrior fans have been up in arms  and have been preaching that conspiratorial anthem since Draymond Green was suspended for Game 5. The fact is, is that Green put himself in a horrible predicament by not showing any self-discipline earlier in the playoffs. His chippiness and constant chatter put him in a position of focus. His energy and passion is the life-blood for this team, but his energy can also be a detriment and we saw that at the end of Game 4. The NBA didn’t suspend Green. His lack of discipline dictated that he be penalized for that the Dubs paid a steep price.

Warrior fans are crying foul after tonight’s Game 6 where Steph Curry was called for several ticky-tack fouls. Blah blah blah……Even with the fouls Warriors head coach Steve Kerr kept him on the floor, so it didn’t for all intent and purposes affect the amount of minutes Curry played. The fouls called on Curry had nothing to do with the outcome of the game. Curry scored 30 points and played well.

The Warriors find themselves in a Game 7 because LeBron James and Kyrie Irving played from another dimension in Game 5 and took advantage of Draymond Green’s absence to confuse the Warriors on the defensive end. They each scored 41 in epic performances.

The Cavaliers perimeter defense on Curry and Klay has been splendid. With every pick and roll there are two bodies there to ride and harass Klay and Curry. Kerr made mention that the Cavs are riding Curry and Klay off of these screens and that was certainly a seed planted for Game 7. Without Green in Game 5 and Bogut in Game 6 the Warriors post-play has been in one word….ATROCIOUS.

Festus Ezeli has been awful and looks like he has regressed over the last two weeks. Kerr can hardly leave him on the floor. Harrison Barnes combined to go 2-for-20 in Games 5 & 6. The Cavaliers can’t guard everyone when they are doubling and bodying Curry and Klay, so they are leaving Harrison Barnes open. He has been awful. Just putrid. I can make an argument that if Barnes hits even half of his open looks in Game 5 the Warriors are having a parade tomorrow in Oaktown. Barnes is a HUGE reason why we are seeing a Game 7 on Sunday.

And, other than Leandro Barbosa the bench was pedestrian in Game 5 and in Game 6. Throw in Andre Iguodala’s back spasms and the DubNation has reason for some consternation.

Throw out any of these reasons, but please do not say the Warriors have been forced to a Game 7 because the refs have it out for them or there is some type of conspiracy. It makes you look amateurish and foolish. When the Warriors beat the Cavs in Games 1, 2 & 4 it wasn’t because of the officials or some type of league-wide conspiracy. The Cavaliers winning Games 5 & 6 is simply because they are playing better, stronger, and are more tenacious on both ends of the floor.

Game 7 will be amazing and I fully expect the Warriors to finish off this amazing 73-win season with a win on their home floor. They have been pushed and tested this entire post-season, as it should be. They will have traversed through the ultimate gauntlet and will have won back-to-back championships. But, if they don’t, do not blame. Here is a novel concept, how about recognizing the greatness of their opponent and giving Cleveland some credit. After all, they were 10-1 underdogs after Game 4 and were left for dead. Besides, if ANY team can beat this great Warriors team three straight times, including two at the Oracle, then they deserve it. Should be an amazing Game 7 !

 

Dodgers wasting Kershaw’s best years….

We are witnessing one of the great pitchers of our time. One of the great pitchers in the history of the game. Yet, here we sit with a team that can’t hit, has no starting pitching depth, a sieve for middle relief and a 250 million dollar payroll. Whoopeee !

I have stated numerous times that we, the fans deserve better. How about Clayton Kershaw ? He deserves better. I respect the Dodger fan who can watch the game, and accept the fate regardless of how deep the knife turns when Pedro Baez or Chris Hatcher enters the contest. Sorry, I am not wired that way.

Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi and Josh Brynes have done a few things well. They have kept the kids and developed them and they didn’t over-pay Zack Greinke. Other than that I am finding it hard to see the redeeming value in their approach.

Let me play devil’s advocate here. What if Mark Walter was interviewing Friedman and mandated that the payroll be cut closer to 200 million dollars ? What if Walter told Friedman that he wouldn’t mind a few steps backward if it set up the Dodgers for decades of success by re-stocking and replenishing a decrepit minor league system under Frank McCourt ? What if Walter told Friedman, “I am paying you to rebuild the foundation of our franchise, while cutting payroll. If we win, great, if we don’t, that’s ok, as long as the foundation is built.”

Do I believe this is what transpired in his job interview ? Well, maybe. How else can you explain these moves or lack thereof ? The Dodgers have one of the most anemic offenses in baseball while banking on players that shouldn’t be banked on (Puig, Grandal,) They went on the cheap for the bullpen, turning converted catchers an infielders into relief pitchers and then act shocked and surprised when they don’t get results. They signed often-injured starting pitchers hoping to catch lightning in the ole bottle, instead they got more injuries. You “experiment” with infielders as relievers when you are rebuilding. You don’t do it when you are a piece or two from winning the pennant. I am not that smart but I called this. I wrote about it. I felt it and could see it. Why couldn’t Dodgers ownership ? I am starting to believe this was the plan. Break this team down to the sum of its parts and hope. How else can such fool-hardy decisions be rationalized ?

The saddest part of this hypothesis is the Dodgers are wasting the talents of one of the most dominant pitchers in the history of the game. Clayton Kershaw is special, but his greatness has a shelf life and that shelf life probably has three or four more years. I will concede Kershaw hasn’t helped himself in the post-season, especially in 2013 and 2014. But, if you come after Kershaw you must also be critical of a front office that devalues pitchers that get outs in the 7th and 8th innings.

Kershaw and the loyalists who Bleed Blue deserve better. I have racked my brain to rationalize the Friedman/Zaidi and Byrnes approach. The only think I can come up with is this IS the plan. Break it down to build it back up into a juggernaut. So far, not so good. The proverbial jury is still out. In the meantime I will look longingly at the Chicago Cubs and salivate.

Warriors are not collapsing; they are getting beat

The national media is salivating at the thought the Golden State Warriors may lose their Western Conference Final series against the Oklahoma City Thunder. In true journalistic form they love building you up and love tearing you down. In many instances we are seeing the true dis-taste the pontificators and pundits have for the DubNation.

In one respect it’s understandable. Whether in life or in sports most of us are reticent to change. We fight change. We knock the status quo. The Warriors in their own delightful way have bucked the trends and have done things their own way. They are not conventional. When clicking they are hard to fathom in their greatness. So when someone comes along (Oklahoma City) and kicks them in the teeth and takes their lunch money, there is much rejoicing. Whether it’s Charles Barkley on TNT or Chris Russo on Mad Dog Radio, if the Dubs lose those two will both enjoy their post-mortem exam

One storyline being pushed is that the Warriors are collapsing. Nothing could be further from the truth. The definition of “collapse” is; “structure falling down or giving way.” The Warriors aren’t falling down or giving way. They are being overwhelmed by a brute force. They aren’t succumbing to any type of external pressures. They aren’t tired from the 73-win grind. They aren’t injured preventing them from performing. These are all excuses of teams that fail to live up to the expectation of some of the “experts” among us. To say the Warriors are collapsing is discount the greatness of Oklahoma City in this series. They are doing everything a team needs to do to stop and contain the Warriors. They are running with the Warriors. They have the perimeter athleticism to pressure Steph Curry and Klay Thompson from making smart and accurate entries. They have been “smartly” physical is disrupting routes to the bucket. They have rendered Draymond Green useless with size and pressure and defensive rotations. Throw in their role players playing great basketball and the capper, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are the two best players on the court.

This is not a collapse. This is a tsunami that is washing the Warriors ashore.

I don’t know what tonight holds. I don’t know what the rest of the series holds. I don’t know everything, but I do know this. There are times in life and there are times in sports when the perfect storm arises and as a person and franchise there isn’t much you can do about it. We may be witnessing that time right now for our beloved Dubs.