Wine Tasting, LiAngelo Ball and Citizen Trump – 10 Thoughts from the Week of March 26th to April 1st.

I took a road trip from So-Cal to Nor-Cal this weekend. I spent a lot of time in the car which influenced my 10 thoughts this week.

  1. I went wine tasting while I was in Nor-Cal and it was disturbing to me. I paid $70 to do some wine tasting at a place recommended by a friend. I thought $70 would get me a lot of wine. Instead, I got lectured on the process of making California sparkling wine for 45 minutes before I got to taste a drop of wine. I was pissed that it took 45 minutes to taste the wine. I didn’t come wine tasting to learn about the winemaking process; that is why it is called “wine tasting”.  Then I only got to taste 5 wines. I felt shorted for paying $70. For $70, I expected to at least question whether I should be driving after the tasting. Looking back on things, I paid for a “cave tour” which I guess should be viewed as different than wine tasting. I once did “barrel tasting” and that is when I drank so much wine I could taste it anymore. You have to pay attention to what you get into.
  2. The Final Four: Michigan and Villanova are meeting today in the national championship game. Michigan ended the very impressive run of Loyola Chicago. I was worried for a moment that Loyola was going to make it to the championship game before they collapsed and had six straight turnovers. Kansas balled out; but they still could not keep with Villanova and the record-breaking three-pointers. Michigan plays hella-defense but Villanova is on another level.
  3. LiAngelo Ball entered the NBA draft this week. The only way he gets drafted is if the Lakers do his family a favor.
  4. I have been thinking about the 24-hour news cycle a lot the last couple of weeks. One of the things that amazes me about the cycle is how quickly people forget about some things that at the time seem pretty unforgettable. I am pretty convicted about how easily I forget unforgettable stuff. I forget about hurricanes and scandals and other soul-scarring events.
  5. The NFL has finally changed the catch-rule which should kill the controversies of the last couple of years.
  6. NBA Eastern Conference Playoff Update: As I said last week, the Raptors and the Bucks don’t seem like much of a series unless Eric Bledsoe gets a jump shot. I want the Bucks to make the playoffs though. It would be a tragedy not to have Giannis in the playoffs. I am not sure what will happen to the Celtics. I could see them beating Miami and I could see Old Man Wade ending them with his playoff experience. The Cavaliers and the Wizards are the most appealing match-up of the first round. The Wizards talked a lot about the Cavs ducking them last season. I know how good Lebron is in the playoffs, but the rest of his team is not good on defense and I cannot see them getting back to the Finals without someone teaching Jordan Clarkson how to play defense.
  7. NBA Western Conference Playoff Update: All the matchups in the Western Conference are intriguing. I feel the same way about the Rockets and the Pelicans that I do about the Raptors and Bucks. It is just good to have Anthony Davis in the playoffs. The Jazz will give the Warriors trouble if they are not 100%. Portland and Thunder are going to war in the first round. I am scared of the Spurs with or without Kawhi. They work that Spurs winning voodoo all over the place.
  8. NFL Mock Draft Top Ten: Some changes from last week’s Top 10.
    1. CLE – Sam Darnold
    2. NYG – Bradley Chubb
    3. NYJ – Josh Allen
    4. BUF – Josh Rosen
    5. DEN – Saquon Barkley
    6. IND – Minkah Fitzpatrick
    7. TB – Derwin James
    8. ARI – Baker Mayfield
    9. SF – Denzel Ward
    10. OAK – Roquan Smith
  9. Steven Spielberg doesn’t think that Netflix movies should not be eligible for the Oscars. It feels like the old man doesn’t want new and unique ideas on his lawn.
  10. During my road trip, my wife watched Citizen Trump in the car. I got to listen to a couple of episodes and all I could think is that we elected a guy who does not care about anything but himself as President of the United States of America. What struck me was Trump probably ran for president because Obama torched him back in the day.

10 Thoughts for the week of March 19-25

  1. March For Our Lives –  Gun control may not happen overnight, but I believe this is the beginning of something. Even polls on Fox News are favorable to make some changes.
  2. The Final Four – So excited about the Final Four. Loyola Chicago is taking the tournament by storm. Villanova is the best team left; but anything else can happen. I have to confess, I am so glad that Duke is done for the season.
  3. Stephon Clark Shooting – Makes me afraid to be around police with my phone in my hand. Dude was shot twenty times in his own backyard.
  4. NFL Free Agency – Eric Reid says he hasn’t found a team yet because he was taking a knee next to Kaepernick. He doesn’t realize that Earl Thomas may be traded and Tyrann Mathieu is looking for a team. There is also Kenny Vicarrio.
  5. My NFL Mock Draft – Top Ten Picks
    1. Cleveland – Sam Darnold
    2. NY Giants – Nick Chubb
    3. NY Jets – Josh Rosen
    4. Cleveland – Quenten Nelson
    5. Denver – Josh Rosen
    6. Indianapolis – Minkah Fitzpatrick
    7. Tampa Bay – Derwin James
    8. Arizona – Josh Allen
    9. San Francisco – Denzel Ward
    10. Oakland – Roquan Smith
  6. Russell Westbrook is almost averaging a triple-double.
  7. NBA Playoff Western Conference Thoughts – Melo is shooting the Thunder out of the playoffs.  I have watched Melo lose two games for the Thunder. As close as the standings are in the West, they need those wins. The Spurs are back. Even without Kawhi, they are ballin out and made sure they made it to the playoffs. I love James Harden, but, sometimes I hate watching him play. He looks like all he is trying to do is catch fouls. I find myself screaming “just ball out!”.
  8. NBA Playoff Eastern Conference Thoughts – Eric Bledsoe cannot shoot and it is hurting the Bucks. Really impressed with the Wizards and think they are going to take off when John Wall comes back. Not sure about the Celtics now that Kyrie is out of six weeks.
  9. Rookie of the Year –  This year’s race for Rookie of the Year is going to be the closest I can remember. I could give it to either guy right now.
  10. The Shape of Water – I finally saw The Shape of Water and I could see why it won Best Picture. The story is good and the visuals were artsy. I enjoyed it, but I am not sure I will be talking about it in five years.

10 Thoughts for the Week of March 12-18

It has been a while since my last post. Lately, I have been having the feeling that it is time to start again. So, here we go.

  1. Trump Fires Tillerson – As usual, Trump fired another cabinet member who disagreed with him. That way he could appoint Mike Pompeo, the CIA director, because he would not need a confirmation hearing. I feel bad for Tillerson; it appears he found out he was fired via Twitter. He was a terrible Secretary of State; but I am not sure that was his fault. Trump appears to have the tendency to change his mind on a daily basis.
  2. Connor Lamb Wins – Connor Lamb won a Pennsylvania Congressional seat on Tuesday. Another seat that was turned blue. I am not a fan of large majorities in either house. I like the idea that these politicians have to compromise and not just shove in any kind of legislation down the throats of the American people.
  3. Metu Sits Out of NIT Tournament – USC was already bummed they were not in the NCAA tournament. Then on Monday, junior forward Chimezie Metu decided to sit out the NIT tournament to protect his draft status.  I guess you can liken it to football players sit out bowl games. Bowl games are not that meaningful and they are meaning less and less each year. I would guarantee that none of them would sit out the national championship game. So I guess the question is what is the difference between the NCAA tournament and the NIT tournament? Is an NIT championship the same thing as a Peach Bowl win?
  4. NBA Playoff Picture Eastern Conference – With one month left in the regular season, the playoff race has been heating up. Three and a half games separate the third team and the eight team in the Eastern Conference. I hope things stay pat in the standings. I would love to see a series with the Cavs versus the Sixers. A Celtics/Bucks series is appealing as well. Any series with the Greek Freak is appealing.
  5. NBA Playoff Picture Western Conference – Four and a half games separate the third team and the eight team in the Western Conference. The Spurs are in the 7th seed as we speak and there is a chance they don’t even make the playoffs. Minnesota is sitting in the 8th seed praying for Jimmy Butler to come back. The first round of the Western Conference is not that appealing to me yet.
  6. NCAA Tournament – This has been the most amazing weekend of the tournament that I can remember. I love the tournament. Most games seem to find their way to being a close game with five minutes left and the team that wants to win the most wins. I shed no tears with seeing Virginia, Arizona and North Carolina going home early. I feel bad for Miami; all they had to do is make a free throw and it was game over. The Michigan shot is all that the tournament is all about.  Florida State made an amazing comeback against top-seeded Xavier.
  7. One and Done Rule – I listened to the Bill Simmons podcast with Chuck Klostermann the other day. They were talking about the one and done rule and it made me think. I think these guys benefit from a few months of college before they turn pro. I was also thinking that if there were no one and done players, the NCAA tournament would still be the NCAA tournament. The quality of basketball would not fall off to the point that people would not be drawn to the tournament the way that people are not really into the College World Series.
  8. McCabe Firing – Jeff Session fired Andrew McCabe a few days before he retired and left his pension in question. Trump made sure to get on Twitter and boast about the firing. According to his statement, McCabe had contact with the press under the guidelines of his job. Only two Republicans have spoken out against the firing. The rest, including Jeff Sessions, remain silent. Trump is the sort of person that needs to be punched in the nose for behaving badly. Otherwise, silence is like giving him permission to act worse.
  9. Sprinkles is Overrated – After waiting in line for 20 minutes and paying $4 for a cupcake, I have decided that Sprinkles is overrated. I don’t get the return on investment when it comes to the cupcake. I am not discriminating on cupcakes. I have waited a longer time for more expensive food and felt it was not overrated.
  10. Trump Trying to Fire Mueller – The latest news is that Trump is trying to get Mueller fired. That could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

10 Thoughts on USC v. Notre Dame:

USC got smoked by Notre Dame 49-14. It was an overall despicable game. I was looking forward to a battle between highly ranked teams. It was super discouraging to see USC shot the bed.

  1. In the beginning of the game, the Notre Dame offense was nothing but sweeps and fades. They had so much success that they were able to pound it up the middle for the rest of the game.
  2. Listening to Mike Tirico and Doug Flutie suck on the tit of Notre Dame made me sick to my stomach.
  3. Sam Darnold is schizophrenic. He is brilliant and incompetent all in the same drives. He is so talented it is maddening. Then he has two more turnovers.
  4. USC needed a big game from RoJo. He had been the bellcow the last couple of weeks. Notre Dame shut him down. USC had -4 yard rushing in the first half.
  5. USC had so many mistakes, I am not sure whether Notre Dame beat them or they beat themselves.
  6. The Jack Jones punt flub was a punch in the belly.
  7. Brandon Winbush looked like Vince Young in the Rose Bowl in 2006.
  8. The receiving corps showed up big; but it was not enough. Steven Mitchell had some big plays. Deontay Burnett had the touchdowns.
  9. Uchenno Nwosu didn’t make the impact he normally does. He didn’t have a sack or even a batted pass.
  10. I am not sure why the defense never changed their game plan. They looked like they did not plan to face a running quarterback. Maybe they were too worn out by the turnovers and offensive inefficiency to fight back.

10 Thoughts on NLCS Game 4 – Los Angeles Dodgers v. Chicago Cubs

Jake Arrietta is a scary pitcher. He is imposing on the mound and he owns the Dodgers. I was hoping the Dodgers would not give the Cubs a breath of life in this series. However with a 3-2 win tonight, the Cubs have shown they are a hard team to put away.

  1. Jake Arrietta came out throwing hard. Nasty hard! He was also a little erratic early. He dominated the Dodgers for the 6.2 innings.
  2. Yasiel Puig is still raking in this series. Puig went 1-3 and missed an opportunity to drive in some runs.
  3. Wilson Contreras and Javie Baez hit home runs in the bottom of the second inning. Contreras’ home run went 491 feet off the scoreboard in left field. Baez hit a low changeup down the left field line. The Cubs struck first again which didn’t seem to bother me because the Cubs had been ahead in all three of the prior games.
  4. The Dodgers bounced back in the top of the third inning when Cody Bellinger hit his second home run of the postseason.
  5. I am not sure what Dave Roberts did with his lineup for Game 4 but I was not a fan. After Yasiel Puig in the cleanup position, the lineup was a waste of time and was doing the Cubs a favor. Andre Ethier struck out twice. Curtis Granderson struck out four times. Yasmani Grandal walked three times; which was ok for him. Chase Utley struck out twice. That means batters 5 through 8 went 0 for 12 with strikeouts. Why not play Logan Forsythe who has been hitting? Why sit Austin Barnes?
  6. Justin Turner just hits. He went 2 for 4 with home run and two walks. He is seeing the ball so well, I am sure he doesn’t want an off-season.
  7. Javier Baez has two hits in the postseason and they are both home runs he hit in Game 4.  The Dodgers have allowed this guy to get confident and it could be a series changer.
  8. The Dodger bullpen shut down the Cubs yet again. The part of the team that was the Achilles heel in past seasons has really put up some great appearances. They need to go to the World Series.
  9. Wade Davis pitched a two inning save; throwing 30 pitches in the first inning. I wonder how much he is going to have left for Game 5.
  10. Dodgers 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position. I am not sure what is more suprising: they didn’t drive in runs or they had such few opportunities to drive in the runs.

10 Thoughts on NLCS Game 3 – Los Angeles Dodgers v. Chicago Cubs

As the series shifted venues to Wrigley Field, I was worried the Cubs would be able to get some momentum that escaped them in Los Angeles. The Cubs are a resilient team and just needed the ball to bounce their way to get back in this series.

  1. Kyle Schwarber started the game off with a home run.
  2. After the homerun, my first thought was Yu Darvish may not have it tonight. However like I have said of Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill, we only need five good innings.
  3. Andre Ethier’s homerun in the top of the 2nd inning was a surprise that couldn’t have happened to a better person. Ethier had been recovering from injuries all season, and I am not sure how healthy he is right now, so stepping in at that time was a big contribution going 2 for 3 with some great verteran hitting.
  4. Chris Taylor hit another home run. As I have said before, he is my MVP for this team and maybe should be MVP of the NLCS. He followed up the home rune with a triple.
  5. Joc Pederson’s double was another big hit for a guy who really needed a big hit.
  6. More surprising was Yu Darvish drawing a walk off of Carl Edwards, Jr. I thought Edwards had exorcised his demons in Game 2. However walking the opposing team’s pitcher on four pitches with the bases loaded shows there are still some demons to be worked out.
  7. Scoring on a pass ball in the 7th was a sign to me that the Cubs were melting down. The frustration was kicking in as they had leads in all three games only to see them disappear.
  8. The bullpen was once again lights out. They have retired 29 of 31 Cub hitters they have faced in the NLCS.
  9. Ross Stripling came in and gave up the two black marks on the bullpen record.
  10. Kenley Jansen is un-hittable right now. It is not even worth trying when you are facing him.

10 Thoughts on NLCS Game 2 – Chicago Cubs v. Los Angeles Dodgers

Game 2 was a classic match-up of two teams bringing their A-game defensively. I was stressed out watching a game that felt like it could go either way. Going into the bottom of the 9th, it was a 1-1 game and then Justin Turner happened.

  1. Game 2 paired two left-handers who brought it for 5 five innings. As I discussed in the NLDS, you know what you are getting early with Rich Hill. John Lester will probably go down as one of the best post-season pitchers in baseball history.
  2. Yasiel Puig is seeing tons of pitches. He walked two times. I was entertained by all his dancing instead of swinging at bad pitches. It must be annoying to the other team or their fans. I am sure I would hate it if he were on the other teams as much as I don’t like some Javier Baez’s antics.
  3. Wilson Contreras has a canon for an arm. The Dodgers don’t appear as aggressive on the bases with Contreras behind the plate.
  4. Addison Russell is a Dodger-killer. He has four post-season home runs and three of them are against the Dodgers. He is the guy who scares me coming to the plate with the game on the line because he is a Dodger-killer.
  5. Rich Hill’s five innings was as good as you can get from him. He had 8 strikeout and one mistake. Just as I said about Kershaw, the Dodgers didn’t need Hill to do more.
  6. The fifth inning was where all the action occurred until the 9th inning. Russell hit his blast in the top half. In the bottom half, Charlie Culbertson doubled. The Dodger decided to pinch hit instead of having Rich Hill lay down a bunt (which I thought and still think is a mistake). Fortuntately Justin Turner singled Culbertson home with two outs.
  7. In the 6th inning, Carl Edwards, Jr. and Brandon Morrow were lights out. Both handling the meaty parts of each team’s lineup. Morrow handled Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.
  8. Kenley Jansen once again handled Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo in the ninth. He struck out Bryant and hit Rizzo in the hand.
  9. I scratched my head when the Dodger sent Kyle Farmer to the plate in the bottom of the ninth. I guess Yasmani Grandal is really at the bottom of the Dodgers’ barrel when it comes to hitting.
  10. 29 years to the day of Kirk Gibson’s famous home run in 1988, Justin Turner hit a game-winning 3-run home run. I remember Gibbie’s home run and we all know teams need a little bit of luck to win the series.