If you inhale deeply through your nose — down to the diaphragm — you’d be a little confused. Sure, there’s the purification of the Dodgers that makes you want to gag, but wait, is that optimism I smell for other teams?
It is. To wit:
Lakers: Even if you hate the team — and like the Dallas Cowboys or New York Yankees, there is no middle ground; you either love or hate them — the Lakers held an excellent draft last week.
It would be most surprising if small forward Brandon Ingram didn’t start quickly for the Lakers this year, perhaps opening night. And if you’re a fan, you already knew that makes an interesting core of point guard D’Angelo Russell and power forward Julius Randle.
That leaves 1 1/2 holes to fill. It’s possible Jordan Clarkson is a long-term solution to shooting guard, but I doubt that. Then there’s a great void at center. The kid drafted in the second round, Ivica Zubac, might play quickly. Pundits suggested he stay in Europe. I don’t see that, but I don’t see him starting, either.
The Lakers will not land one of the Crown Jewels in free agency — such as Kevin Durant. If they sign center Al Horford or Hassan Whiteside, though, the Lakers you have an outside shot of doubling the win total from last year. You’d still miss the playoffs with that, but it would make for a fun miss.
Quick side note: I read a story about the Lakers being surprised that Durant doesn’t want to come to L.A. There’s a reason the top free agents have snubbed the Lakers recently. It’s because there’s a big difference between Jerry Buss and Jim Buss. Jerry was revered. Jim is a trust-fund baby. End of story.
Clippers: I can’t help but like their draft pick of Brice Jordan. I don’t see him starting this year, but like most North Carolina players, he will perform like a professional in the NBA. Solid contributions. No disruptions. Every team needs that.
Free agency is another matter. The Lakers have $62 million of room under the league salary cap. The Clippers have about $8 million of wiggle room.
Rams: A few weeks ago, I was taken aback by an NFL columnist suggesting defensive lineman Aaron Donald was one of the top five players in the game. Since then, the hype has grown. J.J. Watt gets all the commercials in Houston, but Donald, some think, might be even better.
This team likely will miss the playoffs with a rookie at quarterback, but if you live in LA, you might want a Rams jersey simply due to Donald or running back Todd Gurley III.
Dodgers: The six-game winning streak turned out to be a fraud. They went on a road trip to play slumping Pittsburgh and Milwaukee. In the process, they are 2-4 with one more game later today, a full six games behind the Giants. In addition, three more players might be injured and they called up a guy who pitched in Single A earlier this year to start last night’s game.
There’s no getting around it. This team is suffering from the neglect of its front office. Injuries do play a part of the game, yes. But if you sign pitchers with a profound history of getting injured, why are you surprised when they get injured? That’s just logic.
If you let a man with one game of managerial experience lead the team, why are you surprised when the team plays poorly for long stretches of time? That’s just logic.
Make no mistake about it. This team is a whisker away from giving up and the season isn’t halfway over yet.
When injuries pile up, don’t forget it was Andrew Friedman who let this team go to seed over the last offseason, paving the way for this mess.
Galaxy: Soccer, for the uninitiated, is a funny sport. Other sports, you play in a league for a title and that’s that. The offseason starts. Where are the groupies?
In this sport, however, you not only play for a league title, but join these quirky side tournaments.
So the Galaxy last night beat the defending MLS champion Portland Timbers 1-0. Only it wasn’t an MLS game. It was an early round game in the U.S. Open Cup. I’ll leave you to determine if that makes your day better.
Kings: They didn’t even have a pick in the first round of the NHL draft. I’m not going to lie and claim I know anything about players taken after the first round.