Letters to Sports: Rams, Dodgers and Lakers decisions up for debate
Let’s compare the decisions of L.A. teams’ general managers.
Les Snead gets the Rams perennial Pro Bowler, great leader and future Hall of Famer Bobby Wagner for $10 million a year. A lot of money, sure, but almost a lock to elevate the defense and be a fan favorite for years. The Lakers GM, LeBron James, gets thin-skinned, underperforming Russell Westbrook for the bargain rate of $40 million a year.
Maybe we let the front office do their job and ask players just to play.
The Rams extend the contracts of Sean McVay and Les Snead. Hooray! Great move. But it is Aaron Donald who drives the Rams, the heart and soul of the team. In years past, his phenomenal play set the example. Von Miller taught him to be a vocal leader as well. Donald is clearly the Lawrence Taylor of this generation and should be the highest-paid defensive player in the league. If money is tight, there is a precedent. Give him 5% partial ownership a la Magic Johnson and the Lakers. Donald deserves every penny the Rams can muster.
Trading AJ Pollock comes with risks, but adding a proven closer such as Craig Kimbrel was too valuable an opportunity for the Dodgers to pass up.
Cody Bellinger says that his swing is in a good place right now, but Dodgers fans are not in a good place when he comes up to bat. He’s coming off two bad seasons and is hitting .148 while striking out 70% of the time in spring training. We’re pulling for you Cody, but we’re out of patience.
It was truly great to see the Dodgers renew Andrew Toles’ contract for the 2022 season. I stand a better chance of actually playing for the Dodgers this season than does Toles. His $700,000 salary is a “rounding error” to the team, but along with it comes a healthcare plan second to none, which will allow Toles to continue getting the first-class medical help he needs for his mental health issues. Kudos to ownership for a move that is meaningless on the field but a livesaving one off of it.
Lowdown on NBA
The Lakers have officially become the NBA’s version of the Washington Generals. Maybe LeBron can jump ship, again, to the Globetrotters. Move over Meadowlark, there’s a new Barney Fife in town.
In the early 1970s, Washington football coach George Allen led the “Over the Hill Gang” to the NFL playoffs. Now, if Lakers coach Frank Vogel could just channel his inner George Allen, the Lakers might make the playoffs as well.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis say the Lakers are still focused on earning a play-in game bid to the postseason despite string of losses.
The problem with the L.A. Lakers is this: They aren’t Lakers! They are guns for hire. These current Lakers have made no meaningful connections to the city or to the purple and gold — they just wear the uniform and collect monies for services rendered. The last of the homegrown Lakers — Alex Caruso and Kyle Kuzma — are now playing elsewhere, making LeBron — currently in his third season with the club — the longest-serving Laker. Where we once had a young, royal guard getting ready to take on enemies in our house. We are now left with mercenaries who care nothing for the brand that we fans are loyal to.
So Clippers coach Tyronn Lue is upset that 76ers GM Daryl Morey had the audacity to criticize Communist China, a country involved in genocide and slave labor, because his comments “cost the NBA a billion dollars.” Let’s not let justified moral outrage get in the way of more cash.
With many starters on both teams resting, the Clippers rode Robert Covington’s career-high 43 points and team-record 11 threes to a win over Milwaukee.
What the Halo!
The Angels are about the start the 2022 Major League Baseball season. What are we going to see this season? Nothing we haven’t seen before! Management basically tied their hands with the contracts of Albert Pujols and Mike Trout ($425 million?). They bring in a few guys that offer nothing because they have no money, Anthony Rendon is a complete bust; he’s batting .143 in spring training.
Then we all wake up one morning and a local boy from El Modena High School, just five minutes from Angel Stadium, Freddie Freeman, gets signed by the Dodgers. Man, somebody within the Angels organization was asleep at the wheel on that one.
I usually turn to Sports to read about the Angels. Lately I’ve been looking for updates in the obituary section. Since daily coverage of the Angels this spring has been non-existent, clearly they are dead to you.
The Angels have designated outfielder Justin Upton for assignment, marking the second year in a row the team is parting ways with a high-paid veteran.
Due to the length of nine-inning games, MLB should instead replace the extra-innings outcome with a coin flip.
So, the NFL overtime rules change to an intelligent, reasonable, fair system, but only for playoff games.
Then the only reasonable, intelligent response and fair question is: Why only for the playoffs? Regular-season games have influence on who makes the playoffs.
Arthur A. Fleisher II
Letters to The Times sports section the last two weeks have claimed that Mick Cronin didn’t know how to coach offense or defense. How did the Bruins win 27 games with all of their injuries, illnesses and difficult schedule to make the Sweet 16 with a coach who couldn’t coach?
Other than slight interest in Johnny Juzang, no other UCLA player is drawing attention from the NBA. The Bruins have no big man who can dominate in the low post. They are not a great shooting team. Despite this they have achieved success in Cronin’s tenure as coach. He is the reason. Critics of his offense ignore that UCLA is one of the leaders in the country in fewest turnovers. Most importantly, unlike the previous coach, Cronin’s teams play hard.
Former Oaks Christian running back Zach Charbonnet showcases in UCLA practice how much work he has done to improve on his strong 2021 season.
As a Bruin alumnus and longtime ticket holder, I, as many others, blame Cronin for the loss to North Carolina after the late meltdown. My thought was that maybe the Bruins and Lakers could trade coaches. Then, after the Lakers’ loss to Philadelphia after holding a 20-point lead at halftime, I realized that “if it’s broke, you can’t fix it.”
World Series warranty
I feel a whole lot better now that Dave Roberts guaranteed a World Series championship and NOT Bill Plaschke!
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