Has Vinny Mac lost his touch? Royal Rumble 2015 Preview

It’s been a long journey filled with Fandango reboots and Nursery Time with Roman Reigns, but we’re finally here. The Road to WrestleMania begins this Sunday. There should be a noticeable difference in the quality of WWE programing in the next few weeks. After all, this is the time of year when writers will employ slightly more long term booking, as WrestleMania is only two months away.
 
You’ll have to excuse me if I’ve been a little down on the product lately, as CM Punk’s podcast with Colt Cabana was disheartening. Vince McMahon’s surprise appearance on the Network with Stone Cold was even more worrisome. We’ve been saying it for years, but I think it’s finally true; the 69 year old Vincent K. McMahon is out of touch. He no longer knows what the audience wants. I’ve had to get my wrestling fix outside the confines of Monday nights. Not like that’s been a bad thing.… Read more…

The San Francisco Giants make it historically difficult to be a Dodgers fan

It’s been 56 days since the San Francisco Giants won their third World Series championship in five season. I know the days. It’s tattooed on my brain. That’s how long it’s taken me to write this article–enough time to heal and get up from off the floor.
 
I couldn’t watch the World Series this year. Not an inning. As a huge Los Angeles Dodgers fan, seeing our time-tested rivals play for yet another title was just too much for me to grit through. It was a feeling I had become accustomed to—a very same set of stomach acid-inducing ulcers that burned the lining of my gut two years ago. And then two years before that. Worse yet, I knew it was coming.
 
From the moment that Brandon Belt hit a monstrous home run in Nationals Park during their 18-inning slugfest with Washington (the same night as the Dodgers’ lone playoff win), I knew that there was no stopping the Gigantes as they walked down the golden road they were all-too familiar with. It was the same formula I had seen twice already in the last five years—dominant starting pitching, an unheralded bullpen that would bend but not break and a motley set of hitters whose stars aligned all at the same time. I knew the recipe. I could smell it.… Read more…

Trade Analysis: The Dodgers’ big week

Dodgers get: SS Jimmy Rollins, 2B Howie Kendrick, SP Brandon McCarthy, C Yasmani Grandal, RP Chris Hatcher and minor leaguers C Austin Barnes, 2B Enrique Hernandez, SP Joe Weiland
 
Dodgers trade: 2B Sweet Dee Gordon, SP Dan Haren, SS Miguel Rojas (to the Marlins), CF Matt Kemp, C Tim Federowicz (to the Padres), SP Andrew Heaney (to the Angels)
 
The Dodgers–and their new executive team–began a complete makeover this week…and they’re probably not done yet.
 
Even in the midst an incomplete offseason, it’s clear that new President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman and his GM Farhan Zaidi are prioritizing defense over everything else.… Read more…

Julius Randle’s injury clarifies the Lakers’ roadmap

There’s nothing good about Julius Randle’s injury. No matter what anyone may say, a young, promising power forward has been sidelined at the advent of his NBA career. My colleague Harrison Faigen tried to find silver linings peering through this horrific injury, putting a reluctant smile on an other morose situation. However, in my opinion, there’s really nothing the Lakers gain in a positive sense. All this injury does is clarify what the Lakers do going forward.
 
Two games in, the Lakers look extremely far away from anything resembling a playoff team. Yes, it’s only two games, but their two performances, not to mention their preseason games, indicate systemic flaws in the very infrastructure of the team itself that aren’t necessarily beholden to a small sample size. The offense is an absolute mess, one that won’t be fixed by the addition of a single, solitary three-point shooter in the form of Nick Young, or can be helped exponentially by Kobe taking even more shots. The defense is even more inexcusable–I don’t know that I need to expound on that. The Lakers look like a lottery team, pure and simple. As currently constructed, there are very few onlookers who would actually suggest this team could make the playoffs.
 
At this point, the Lakers could take their season in several different directions. Do they stay the course, save up their assets and hope that, with time, the team can become more competitive than they are in their present state? Do they try an open rebuild, trading away valuable role players like Jordan Hill or Jeremy Lin for draft selections or young blue chippers? Or do they take a combination of their nearly $30 million in expiring contracts, young players and draft picks and try and trade for a disgruntled superstar that wants out of his current situation?
 
It would seem Randle’s injury has ruled out that last direction.
 
(Read on, sadly, at Silver Screen & Roll)

 … Read more…

The 2014-2015 Lakers and the Quest for 20

Several years ago, Boston College’s favorite son, Jared “The Junkyard Dog” Dudley (though by opposing ACC crowds, he was often called “Jared Ugly”) came to the Phoenix Suns in package with Jason Richardson. Dudley never should have made it even that far in the NBA.
 
A first round pick by the Charlotte Bobcats, the San Diego, CA native was actually projected to be a second round draft pick. The reigning 2006-2007 ACC Player of the Year had decent size at 6’7″ and 220 lbs, lacked the explosive athleticism that many other small forwards carried at that position. Critics claimed that Dudley’s lack of lateral movement and vertical lift would limit his NBA career, making him a League also-ran rather than the, I daresay dominant swingman he was during his college days.
 
What many didn’t consider was while Dudley was limited in athleticism, he was not at all limited in his work ethic. Through his endless hustle, grit and an unfathomably improved three-point stroke, JYD morphed into a phenomenal NBA role player with the Bobcats and then with the Phoenix Suns. More than that, he morphed himself into a man who has made over $30 million dollars in his NBA career.
 
Still, his athleticism, or lack thereof, has still partially defined his career. Throughout the 2010-2011 NBA season, Dudley’s teammates on the Phoenix Suns derided the baby-faced small forward his almost complete inability to dunk the basketball during in-game play. Even during his college career, Dudley was never known as a powerful player that could take it to the rack, but rather as a guy who relied on a solid mid-range game and contact at the hoop to get his points. Dunking–i.e., jumping off the ground with explosion–was simply not in the cards. Apparently, this was the case during his professional career.
 
And thus came the Quest for 10. Please see this article.
 
In the spring of 2011, Jared Dudley completed his seemingly impossible quest to complete ten dunks during the season. This man–an unlikely NBA player from the outset–defied the critics, his teammates, the very laws of physics and the constraints of his own human vessel to conquer this very personal journey.
 
As we reflect on the Quest for 10, can YOUR….Los Angeles Lakers complete their Quest for 20?… Read more…

Lakers’ lack of talent exposed by injuries

The pomp and circumstance of opening night has yet to begin, and here we are, right back to the middle of the miserable 2013-2014 campaign.
 
The injury bug has again hit the Los Angeles Lakers, coming back with a vengeance that would make Montezuma crap his pants. Before the giant white curtains have even fallen and the video reel is still unedited, we’re looking at a Los Angeles Lakers team ravaged by injury. Here’s the run down thus far:

  • Xavier Henry is still having problems with his troublesome right knee, which has kept him out of training camp entirely. He’ll miss the rest of the preseason, and perhaps the beginning of the regular season, as he will go to Germany to get the same treatment on his knee that helped rejuvenate Kobe Bryant several years back. It is not certain when Henry will return.
  • Ryan Kelly has been sidelined with a sore right hamstring for much of the preseason, though apparently his left hamstring is also giving him problems. It’s not certain when Kelly will return.
  • Steve Nash tweaked his back once again, this time from a source much less lethal than Damian Lillard’s knee: bags. Lifting bags. Nash has been injured in one way or another for most of his tenure as a Laker, and it already feels like this year will be no different. It is not certain when Nash will return.
  • Jeremy Lin has tweaked both ankles in training camp and has missed the last two preseason contests. Without Steve Nash, the team has been largely relying on a rotation of Ronnie Price and whoever else can dribble the ball at the point. It is not certain when Lin will return.
  • Nick Young has already been sidelined for several weeks with a torn ligament in his right hand, a injury that will keep him sidelined until late November at the earliest.
  • Jordan Clarkson has been sidelined a week with a strained left calf, leaving the team razor thin at the point. It is not certain when…what? He’ll be back on Tuesday? Sweet!

Of course, some of these injuries are more severe than the others. In regard to Lin, Clarkson and Kelly, these may just be various, unfortunately timed nicks and bruises. However, for Nash, Young and Henry, these could very well be injuries that sideline them for an extended period of time and even worse, linger once they’re back on the court.
 
I’ve read some narratives proclaiming that the injury-bug has hit the Lakers (already) for a third season in a row. That’s not an entirely unfair statement. The team’s eroding record the previous two seasons has largely been a result of Kobe’s legs, Dwight’s back, Pau’s knees and Nash’s everything breaking down at a prodigious pace.
 
I’ve also heard fans say that it’s far too early to write off this team, especially seeing as these injuries are impacting the preseason–a.k.a. the part of the year where wins and losses couldn’t matter less. This too, is not an entirely unfair statement. Perhaps Henry, Nash and Young’s injuries aren’t too severe. Maybe it’s just a creaky knee, a tweaked back and hand surgery that will sideline Swaggy for a few weeks of the regular season.
 
However, these storylines are distracting from the real fatal flaw of the team that’s not the injuries. In fact, the injuries are what has exposed what could be the failing point of this Lakers team.
 
There’s just not enough talent, especially on a team that already looks so reliant on their oldest players.
 
(More at SS&R)

 … Read more…

The blurred line between pessimism and realism with the Lakers

When dealing with a franchise that’s known nothing but winning, how does a Lakers fan even prepare for the upcoming season?
 
How does one get amped up for the year when nearly every single pundit, talking head and blogger is picking the team to not only finish outside of the playoff picture for an almost unprecedented two seasons in a row…but also to be amongst the league’s worst teams?
 
Can Lakers fans rationalize to themselves that their future is without a surefire building block? That the team will be without an established young star for the first time since the mid-nineties and just the second time since the mid-seventies?
 
How will Lakers nation react to the notion that “things won’t work out LA’s way”, which is contrary to the last fifty years of NBA basketball?
 
The answer? Not well. At least from what I’ve seen.
 
We at Silver Screen & Roll pride ourselves on the many facets of our in-depth coverage of all angles of Los Angeles Lakers basketball. However, we feel that one aspect of our community that sets us apart from the rest of the healthy purple & gold blogosphere is our unyielding commitment to unbiased reporting and analysis with a curated focus on what fans are most interested in. From Josh Tucker, C.A. Clark and Dexter Fishmore to Drew Garrison and our newer writers like James Jackson, we have always been a site that has never shied away from expressing our opinions on the Los Angeles Lakers, regardless of what side of criticism they fall on. In other words: we don’t pull our punches. For anyone. Not for anyone whose business card reads “Buss”, not for any man whose name is raised to the rafters of STAPLES Center, not for #24 himself. This has never been, nor will it ever be, a site that is going to trumpet a “rah-rah Lakers” approach, while conveniently ignoring the pitfalls of an all-too-human organization.
 
(Peep the rest at SS&R)

 … Read more…

Without Nick Young, this Lakers season might be over before it begins

On just the fourth day of training camp, it seems that the injury bug that’s been swarming the Lakers for the past two seasons has already descended upon them.
 
Likely starting small forward Nick Young has been sidelined for 6 to 8 weeks with a tear of his radial collateral ligament in his right shooting hand. He reportedly was injured while defending Kobe Bryant in practice in what seems to be a complete fluke accident.
 
This, my friends, could very well kill this Lakers season even before the first preseason game.
 
Nick Young, an almost lone bright spot in an otherwise dreary last year, was coming into this season as either the second or third most important man on the roster. Despite missing 18 games in 2013-2014, Young set career highs in points, three-pointers made, assists and steals. By almost any definable metric, as well as the simple eye test, Young played arguably the best defense of his career, most of which could probably summed up to him finally giving a crap. In many ways, he was the Lakers’ most complete player on the court, as well as, unbelievably so, a locker room leader. There is almost no way I could properly convey just how valuable he was to a putrid Lakers squad last year, and also no way I could properly convey just how utterly shocked I’d have been last year if I knew I’d be writing these words 12 months later.
 
(Read the rest here at SS&R!)

 … Read more…

Can Kobe Bryant’s exit echo Derek Jeter’s?

As his latest and greatest of his opposite field singles dribbled into the hands of Baltimore Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis on Thursday night, Derek Jeter rounded first base as his neck snapped to his left. He stared with rapt attention as pinch runner Antoan Richardson raced home and barely beat out Markakis’s laser throw from 250 feet out. Jeter had singled home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth, ending his career at Yankee Stadium with a walk-off, opposite field single in the clutch. No, there was nothing really on the line here except for a meaningless late September win. However, one of the greatest competitors in the history of North American professional sports left the stage on his own two feet as a walk-off winner with a hit that exemplified his entire career.
 
Now, let’s pay no nevermind to the fact that Jeter played both Saturday and Sunday in Boston, though his last at-bat yesterday was an infield single. What the Yankees shortstop will always be remembered for is surely his grand finale at Yankee Stadium on Thursday. As the latest major market sports star retires after a glittering career, it brings into clear focus the same exact scene we could be seeing two years from now when our own Kobe Bryant hangs up his sneakers for good.
 
(More at SS&R)

 … Read more…

The Dodgers are in the playoffs! Time to freak out!

The Dodgers are in the playoffs! I feel nauseous!
 
For any True Blue fan out there, they each know that October merely brings heartache and anxiety. Nothing more, nothing less. I kind of have to hurl right now!
 
As always, my man Que-Ese and I were commiserating about the causes for the potential ulcers likely to befall us in the coming days and (hopefully) weeks. But, like a true friends (who will never ever ever leave each other), we’ve tried to serve as the salve to one another’s Dodger blues. Below is an e-mail exchange in which we’ve both finely laid out our biggest reservations, then a rebuttal why it might not be a big deal and finally, our predictions for the series.
 
KOBEsh: The bullpen. Duh.
 
Some writers have suggested that the Dodgers only have two reliable pitchers in their bullpen, which is a disconcerting thought all on its own. However, I think that may be outshooting the truth altogether.
 
Kenley Jansen has been pretty great this season, though I wouldn’t say absolutely dominant. Sure, he’s got 101 strikeouts and allowed just 55 hits in 65 innings pitched, but he also got himself into trouble unnecessarily. With no outs, Jansen allowed a .779 OPS, as opposed to .567 and .466 on the second and third outs. In other words, he’s letting a leadoff man on at an alarming rate and then relying on his dominant stuff to make up for it. Not the type of breathing room you want to give up to a fellow division-winning team.
 
The only other “reliable” bullpen pitcher has this stat line for September: 7 games, 5.1 innings pitched, 9 hits and 2 homers allowed and a 11.81 ERA. That’s J.P. Howell, who had emerged into the team’s best 8th inning reliever.
 
Other than that, we’re looking at Brandon League (a nice 2.57 ERA, but an ugly 1.46 WHIP) Brian Wilson (a nice K%, but giving up hits and walks by the boatload), 39 year-old Jamey Wright (72 hits in 70 IP), Chris Perez (who had a nice September, but still walked 4 batters in 7 innings) and rookie Pedro Baez.
 
Yes, I’m really worried.
 
Que-Ese: Here’s why you shouldn’t fret about the bullpen:
 
Jansen is a stud. His premium pitch is a cut fastball. The thing about those, is that sometimes they get put into play. If they hit their spots, he’ll be fine.… Read more…