The Lakers: We all have a learning curve here

Random thoughts on the Brave Bryantless World after the Lakers season-opening 120-114 victory over Houston on Wednesday (and I say random because I have already written on what I think the Lakers will be, so why repeat myself?):

  • The starting lineup was curious until the second half. Nick Young not being staple-gunned to the bench? And chucking up misses in the process? What was that? I think we found out in the second half, maybe. 

The reason Young has an NBA career in the first place is because he stopped Kevin Durant in the NCAA Tournament when USC upset Texas. This Lakers team, as currently constructed, is defense deprived. LA allowed an alarming 71 points in the first half. The guess here is the coaching staff advised Young if he doesn’t do his job in the second half… And Houston scored a more palatable 43 in the second half.

By the way, don’t be too surprised if that means Metta World Peace starts soon in Young’s place. Not that he would play major minutes. The idea being a reminder to the rest of the team: stop the ball.

  • For defensive purposes and considering the development of Brandon Ingram, the lineup will continue to be in flux for at least another two months. They have no idea who they can consistently rely on yet, aside from Julius Randle.
  • I want to hold back on praising the offense. Scoring 120 points is impressive, unless it’s against Houston. Now that the Rockets are coached by Mark D’Antoni, we’re going to have to come up with a new phrase for matador defense.
  • As I’ve written before, the Lakers will at least be fun to watch. Having said that, when D’Angelo Russell followed up a basket by looking at the camera and screaming “This is my shit,” you might be a little ahead of yourself, playa. That was a lucky shot. You threw up some shit.
  • ESPN color analyst Mark Jackson made an excellent point about top draft selection Ingram being part of the reserves. Ingram, a forward, played the point with the second team in the first half. That was a purposeful idea, Jackson said, because it accelerates the learning process to run the offense. Ingram wouldn’t have that opportunity as a passive member of the first team.
  • I still believe the Lakers do not have the personnel to run the Golden State offense that fans were anticipating. Russell was the only Lakers player with more than two 3-pointers.
  • Will somebody — preferably Randle — please commandeer the low post? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Vlade Divac and Shaquille O’Neal are all rolling over in their graves.

The Lakers embark on a four-game road trip starting in Utah on Friday. Keep in mind, LA started out last season 0-4, so they’re already ahead of last season’s awful curve.

Dear Jaguars “army”… All 13 of you

Everything I told you would happen yesterday, did.

I didn’t want to tell you anything, to be frank. I’ve been to Jacksonville before and I don’t speak hillbilly well. I just wanted to kick back with a drink, snap a few selfies, and sneak a peek at your wife/sister in the pool in the upper deck. Sure hope they’re legal. But I digress…

I was in a pretty chill mood walking into your stadium, and your franchise touts EverBank Field as an extremely welcoming environment. Of course, they lied about that. Kind of like how they lied to you when they told you the defense was improved.

From coast to coast, walking into an NFL game wearing the opposing team’s gear by yourself is an invitation for trouble. Not for talking smack, for fistfights. You alleged friendly people saw I was walking in by myself and three of you tried to pick a fight at the gate.

There the three of you were, your medicine ball-sized beer bellies proudly firm and erect, your cherubic faces flushed red with fury, slobber down your grey goatees and struggling to piece together syllables — let alone subjects and predicates. Pursuing me as fast as those kneeless stumps you call legs could, kicking at my heels like second graders, claiming that I was going to be surrounded by a “Jaguars army” and stomped.

Your threats were, unlike your fat asses, empty. Your asses were, of course, like you — full of it.

What you fail — and I’m sure failing is a regular occurrence for your children at school — to realize is that I knew I was perfectly safe. I’m not the toughest fighter out there, by any stretch. But I’ve seen some really dangerous times in my life. I was in LA for the riots. I’ve covered natural disasters. I performed in angry dive bars as a comic that made “Roadhouse” look like “Zootopia.” It takes more than three tubs of goo working on their 10th bypass surgery to scare me.

That’s why I started insulting you and your team back. Your empty threats were the only reason I opened my mouth in the first place.

If you really wanted to fight, you were welcome to try, only my sober left would have been faster than your drunken roundhouse right.

I also know there is no such thing as a Jaguars army. There is, however, such a thing as a Raider Nation. Like the Cowboys, Seahawks, Bears and Packers, the Raiders have a fan base that will travel the country to see them.

As for the game, I told you the Jags had no defense. They gave up 33 points.

I told you Blake Bortles would throw an interception. He threw into triple coverage and got picked, killing a scoring drive.

You were never in the game. And if you wanted to take it out on me, you didn’t stay in the stadium in order to do it. I was most definitely surrounded, all right, by a legion of happy people dressed in silver and black.

Look, my team stunk up the NFL for far too long. I know what it’s like to support a team that lets you down. Having said that, I never gathered a posse and surrounded another fan. That’s on you.

As I drove away, I wondered why EverBank would sponsor the stadium. Having been the Jacksonville four times, it’s abundantly clear that you Jaguars fans store your money in a special sock under the mattress. … No, not “that special sock.” The other one.

If you want to address this further, I’ll be in Tampa next week, watching the Raiders again. Simply go to JiffyLube to get an oil change on your house and drive down I-4 to find me.

The Dodgers season goes up in flames, but we knew this

The Dodgers, as I type, are about to set a dubious mark. Should the current score stand, Los Angeles will be eliminated in the 2016 NLCS in Chicago. In the process, they will have set a record for most consecutive seasons of qualifying for the playoffs without reaching the World Series.

In other words, they’re going nowhere. Even worse, they will continue to go nowhere. Here’s why:

1) The most bloated front office in the history of baseball will continue to purge salary. Closer Kenley Jansen? He’s gone. Analytics experts such as the Dodgers “smart guys” don’t value closers. Jansen, meanwhile, is apparently looking forward to getting paid.

Third baseman Justin Turner is due for a raise. Buh-bye. The “smart guys” resist position players older than 30.

It should be the same for Rich Hill. The feeling here is the smart guys are betting Clayton Kershaw will be backed up by much of what you saw before trading for Hill — Scott Kazmir, Julio Urias, Kenta Maeda and whatever noodle-armed injury-prone dreck with a low WHIP they can cull.

You see, analytics drones only think in terms of buying low/selling high. Hill was bought low. He’s in line to get paid. The smart guys will pass.

Matter of fact, the Dodgers have 14 free agents this offseason and the only one that I am confident they will retain is situational relief pitcher Joe Blanton. Maybe they make a run at keeping Josh Reddick, but that’s only if they luck out and find a suitor for Andre Ethier and/or Yasiel Puig.

Hmm… Jansen’s in the game, auditioning for a job next year.

2) Take a peek at the list of MLB free agents next year. The top guys are in their early 30s. The Dodgers will pass.

In their defense, the list is not particularly inviting, either. 

3) Let’s assume something possible: That Urias blossoms quickly into a No.2 behind Kershaw. It might happen. Kid has major capability. And perhaps that stabilizes an utterly chaotic rotation.

Fine… But who hits other than Corey Seager?

The Dodgers reliance on home runs made them one-dimensional. Keep the ball in the yard, and they lose. It’s that simple, because they just can’t hit. Puig was supposed to be a cornerstone with Seager, only the Cuban was sent to the minors this year. Joc Pedersen might follow him with that abyss in his swing.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers ballyhooed farm system is loaded — with pitchers. There are no offensive threats due to arrive next year.

It also is worth noting that the great Adrian Gonzalez — who just filed out in the eighth inning — might be slowing down.

4) The Dodgers are incapable of making impactful moves because, as previously mentioned, they have the most bloated front office in baseball. They have six general managers on the payroll — Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi, Josh Byrnes, Ned Colletti, Alex Anthopoulous and Tommy Lasorda.

How in the hell do you get anything accomplished with such micromanagement?

Earlier, I had mentioned that people obsessed with analytics are into buying low and selling high. It would make sense to have that mentality when you are forced to squeeze what you can out of limited resources.

Only the fatal flaw is this: The Dodgers don’t have limited resources. Because they’re the freaking Dodgers.

That is why the Chicago Cubs, who rebuilt themselves from scratch, have a future and the Dodgers do not. The Cubs did, in fact, take risks this offseason. The Cubs were the ones to sign Jon Lester, whereas the Dodgers let Zack Greinke go. The Cubs remembered offense by signing second baseman Ben Zobrist and outfielder Dexter Fowler. 

The Dodgers? Last offseason with numerous possibilities to improve, they added Trayce Thompson.

Analytics is “a tool” used by the Cubs. Analytics is “the only tool” the Dodgers recognized.

Which means the Cubs played to win. You can’t be mad at them for that.

While the Dodgers merely play to qualify. You should be mad as hell about that.

It’s OK not to vote

When I was in journalism, the editors would copy and paste the same editorial on the opinion page leading up to Election Day every two years. This Xeroxed prose would state that this particular election was vital to the future of the republic and you have a responsibility to go to your local booth, stand in line, make sure your chad doesn’t hang, and get your oval sticker.

Hogwash.

Let not your conscience be bullied by hyperpartisan hyperventilation. If you look at this choice and think it’s a decision between a bucket of excrement and a pail of vomit, you have every reason to stay home, turn on your PlayStation and avoid this pathetic drama disguised as political discourse.

Full disclosure for the uninitiated: I’m a conservative. I’m not a #NeverTrumper. If he wins, so be it. To be honest, the former stand-up comic in me thinks it would be hilarious. His candidacy will run about 500 days, which is about one-eighth of the amount of time Hillary’s been campaigning for the gig, I might add. When you consider how your social media feeds have been blanketed with a nonstop anti-Trump fury for 500 days, and he could still win? Yeah, it’s kind of funny.

That is not to be confused with Trump support. I can’t look you in the eye — whoever you are — and give you compelling reasons to vote for the guy. What am I supposed to call him, Reaganesque? He’s not even Gingrichesque. I’ve seen him lie on TV, and that should give you pause if you want that wall built, taxes cut, deficits reduced, ISIS defeated swiftly, etc.

Your skin should crawl with what was said about a Latino judge being unfit to serve based on race.

If you’re offended over the “Access Hollywood” recording, am I supposed to tell you to shut up and deal with it? Hell no.

Having said that, if you’re on the fence about Hillary Clinton, you should consider staying home, too. Trump lies, but much of what he said in the second debate about Hillary? It was absolutely true, despite hundreds of newspapers willingly looking the other way. Consider that her supporters are breaking out the party hats today over the fact that the FBI won’t indict her over an email scandal. … A qualified candidate is not supposed to be considered for an indictment in the first place.

She does tell you one thing and act in an entirely opposite way. She does publicly decry big banks to you while asking them for their donations. She does publicly support victims of sexual abuse, unless doing so stands in her way. Put it this way: defending a man accused of child rape is a needed tool in our justice system. Spiking the football by laughing about winning the case? That’s disgusting.

Bernie Sanders did get screwed, too. And how in the hell does someone go from being flat broke to having $250 million in about a decade when all she and her husband do is give speeches? At least when Tony Robbins gives a speech, he’ll walk on hot coals and potentially burn himself.

While she is technically running for a third Obama term, she’s not him. Millions of fair people have legitimate concerns about wages, employment, terrorism and health care.

Voting for her? If you’re passionate about it, go for it. If not, and you want to watch “The Flash,” enjoy yourself.

I’ve been on this planet for longer than I care to admit. No election has made me this sad, and that is telling. I’m not sad over “my guy” losing. That’s not my guy. I don’t look at elections that way, anymore. If I’m unhappy, I can only imagine what many of you feel. Nauseated? Exhausted? Irritable? Wanting to give strangers the finger? 

Run the country? Hell, I wouldn’t even invite Trump or Clinton over for a slice of Dominos Pizza.

The upshot is this: partisans care. Many of you don’t. If they care, let them have their say. If you don’t care, your vote might blot out the impact of their ballot.

If you hate the options, you have a moral responsibility not to vote if doing so negates the choice of someone who cast their ballot after careful consideration. You are not under an obligation to support a friend who gave you a “Make America Great Again” bumper sticker, neither if you are told it’s about time a woman runs things.

You don’t need a sticker on your shirt to show to everybody that you used your brain on Election Day.

If you want to stay home, do it.

This year, it doesn’t make you less of a patriot.

The curious case of the USMNT friendlies

Last month, I drove up to Jacksonville, Fla., and thoroughly enjoyed watching the U.S. men’s national team bludgeon Trinidad & Tobago 4-0 as part of World Cup qualifying. The Yanks didn’t need to win by that much to continue their quest to play in Russia, but had they lost they would have risked elimination a sickening two years before the tournament.

It shouldn’t have come to that, in other words.

What keeps me on edge about the USMNT under coach Jurgen Klinsmann is that since his hiring in 2011, it often has come to that. In trying to get the Americans to close in on the world’s elites, the former German superstar has worked to change the way we look at the beautiful game. He’s tried to influence where players sign (preferably Europe), how Major League Soccer operates and made stark roster changes (Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore).

As the Yanks enter “the Hex” — for the uninitiated, the last round of Cup qualifying matches — they warmed up with two friendly matches in the last week: an uninspiring 2-0 victory over Cuba on a sandlot and Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with New Zealand.

These games do not project confidence for the Nov. 11 grudge match with Mexico in Columbus or Nov. 15 against Costa Rica.

I don’t claim to be an expert on international soccer. If I were, I wouldn’t watch so much MLS. Having said that, my first thoughts on the USMNT going into those two difficult Hex games are:

1) Switch the formation from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2. Last night, the Americans couldn’t string together enough passes to control tempo and create chances. Against New Zealand, midfielder Michael Bradley lined up on the right side with Sacha Kljestan in the middle. I assume it’s because Bradley, who normally lines up in the middle, isn’t as creative with the ball as Kljestan.

I would consider making the middle four in the 4-4-2 a diamond as opposed to a line, place Kljestan at the top of the diamond to take advantage of his creativity and put Bradley at the back because he is a conservative-minded passer.

Instead of three forwards cluttering up the front, I would keep Bobby Wood and Altidore up top. They’re simply too good to have one on the bench.

2) Don’t panic about the goaltending. Neither game had the Yanks’ top goalies in net. Klinsmann wanted a glimpse in the future. He got one. Only one goal was allowed.

3) Unless there’s a compelling private reason I don’t know about, Darlington Nagbe needs some tough love.

Nagbe, who has been on the precipice of cracking the starting lineup for about eight months, asked not to play in the last two games. I don’t know why after a search. It could be a family emergency, but that’s guesswork. But if it’s to kick back after playing so much for the Portland Timbers, he needs to miss the hex.

This is different from Christian Pulisic missing the New Zealand game. He plays in Europe and his club needs him for Champions League matches. Pulisic’s playing world-class competition. The Timbers didn’t play at all.

Klinsmann has a history of benching players he doesn’t believe he can rely on, regardless of talent level. Altidore missed games due to being injury-prone. Landon Donovan took an international soccer sabbatical of about a year, and when he came back, Klinsmann said no thanks. I love Donovan. That one stung.

Ultimately, the hope going against two rivals is that these two matches are simply another example of Klinsmann experimenting a little too much for our comfort level.

If I’m wrong and he’s still tinkering in the hex, the Yanks could miss the World Cup.

With depth depleted, Kings in transition

How does the NHL work? You can win the Stanley Cup without having an elite roster. A few exceptional players and a lot of grit can get you to the top of the mountain. Look no further than the Pittsburgh Penguins last year for that.

So to begin with optimism, we can say the LA Kings begin the 2016-17 season Wednesday against San Jose with three, possibly four, exceptional players as that foundation. 

But then comes reality. That core will have to perform above expectations for this team to make the playoffs, let alone win the cup this year. It’s not that the so-called window of opportunity has closed as much as it is cracked, waiting to see if prospects will flourish in the next year or two to lift the team back to contending status.

The team has kept its core of defenseman Drew Doughty, goaltender Jonathan Quick and center Anze Kopitar. Also, Tyler Toffoli has the makings of a consistent all-star. Virtually the rest of the roster — particularly at forward — is in transition thanks to two painful realities.

One is payroll restraints: The Kings have just $57,000 in salary cap room. The front office is doing all it can to shoehorn one more player into the roster legally as I type — a left winger that could join their top line, Devin Setoguchi. Adding to that burden is the NHL salary cap provides little relief when players get injured long term. Setoguchi is seen as a replacement for injured sniper Martin Gaborik.

The cap limit was also part of the reason the Kings could not retain forward Milan Lucic, a bruiser that fit perfectly with their heavy style of play.

The second is cuts made due to some players’ off-ice behavior. The Kings let go of forwards Jarret Stoll and Mike Richards due to drug-related arrests. Slava Voynov was supposed to stabilize the defense for a decade with Doughty, but he’s back in Russia thanks to an ugly domestic violence arrest.

Currently, the third and fourth line of forwards are centered by Nic Dowd and Andy Andreoff, who haven’t impressed much. So LA’s offensive depth has been depleted, and this was a team that struggled to score in the first place.

The defense last year allowed the third-fewest goals in the NHL. It will have to at least equal that. There’s no reason to expect a slump from Doughty or Quick, but if there’s an injury, LA could be toast. And Quick has had injuries to the back, wrist and groin.

I can’t say with confidence the Kings can consistently match up with San Jose or Anaheim. The top three finishers in the Pacific Division are assured of playoff spots. They’re probably better than Vancouver, but Edmonton and Phoenix have added to their rosters and Calgary looms for a bounceback season.

I’m voting for myself

Unlike millions of people, I’ve been at peace regarding the upcoming presidential elections for quite a while. I preferred Marco Rubio, although I eventually voted for John Kasich in the Florida primary.

Donald Trump won the nomination. OK. So be it. I basically sat back and went about my business.

I’m not a #NeverTrumper as much as I am a #We’reGettingAHorriblePresidentRegardless guy.

Soo… I’m writing in myself on Election Day.

This is not some hacky joke request for you to vote for me, like that brutally unfunny Bud Light Party ad campaign. It’s simply a private protest vote.

I can’t argue for any of you to vote for Trump, and that was before Friday’s little bus bomb. I’ve caught the guy lying, too. Trump is an alpha male with an incredibly strong mindset. He is the guy who can look you in the eye five seconds after saying something messed up, then deny he ever said it in the same breath. It’s an incredible nontalent.

Um, but Hillary Clinton has that same disease. Oh, she most certainly does. She confessed to it in yesterday’s WikiLeaks dump. Boots on the ground in Syria? Wall Street can be trusted to solve Wall Street? I have a public position and a private position?

Both sides have supporters — millions of them — who will back them no matter what. Trump was absolutely right when he said he could shoot somebody in broad daylight and still get millions of votes. 

The most telling poll question I’ve seen during this cycle was a secondary question asked by Fox News two weeks ago, where Clinton led by four points. The secondary question was “Why are you voting for this person?” The No.1 response wasn’t the economy, immigration, terrorism, etc. it was “to keep the other candidate from winning.”

So it doesn’t matter what Trump says. Hard-core Trump supporters want to keep the Clintons out. And to the hard-core Clinton backers, the top priority is to keep Trump out. It’s not patriotism. It’s cheerleading.

Many of you have this bottomless well of anger for the other candidate. It kind of scares me a little.

Your arguments, they’re not good enough for me.

Oh, I’ll vote. I want Rubio in the Senate, for example. I like him… Until further notice.

But for all the bluster about Bill Clinton’s actions and Hillary’s smear campaign is worse than what The Donald said. For the gale force of “nobody gives a damn about what WikiLeaks uncovered,” I have a cold splash of water for the lot of you.

People know both candidates are miserable, contemptible, loathsome, dirty, bottom-feeders. Both of ’em. All of your venom, your bluster, your memes from “RightWingNews.com” and Occupy Democrats, your GIFs, your “if you vote for this person, I won’t be your friend anymore” Facebook posts.

All the newspaper endorsements for Clinton? How do these editors feel knowing that Clinton has already been embroiled in scandal and we haven’t even voted yet?

None of all of this fury disguised as political discourse changes the fact that they are both ugly people.

Women do care about misogyny. He needs women to vote for him.

Bernie Sanders’ voters do care that Clinton has been bought by Wall Street, and they fear going to war in the Middle East. She definitely needs the millennial vote.

Trump began his candidacy about 500 days ago. That’s 500 days of your unrelenting wrath. But how does it feel to spend all of that energy knowing that both of them have a profound sickness at the core of their being?

And you want me to argue in favor of Trump? Or hold back vomit and vote Clinton?

Who wins this election? No idea. But I do know the essence of my conservatism is based on self-reliance. Many falsely believe in her, or him. I believe in myself.

And when some poor chump at the Florida Department of Hanging Chads has to tally the ballots, he’ll look at one and ask “Who the hell is James Curran?”

That’s good enough for me.

Friday updates on Hurricane Matthew for Altamonte Springs

(Update 1:29 p.m. Florida, 10:29 a.m. LA): A curfew will lift in Orange County, which includes Orlando, at 2 p.m. today, the Orlando Sentinel reported. There has been no announcement about easing the curfew in Seminole County, which includes Altamonte Springs.

The American Red Cross reports about 22,000 people were housed in shelters last night as coastal residents fled Hurricane Matthew. The hurricane is currently south of Jacksonville.

(Original post for Friday): One woman died Friday night in Florida as Hurricane Matthew was downgraded to Category 3 on Friday morning. The victim, 58, suffered cardiac arrest in St. Lucie County, which is about 120 miles away from here.

About 600,000 homes statewide are without power in the aftermath of the hurricane, which veered slightly east late Thursday after meteorologists forecasted it touching land in Melbourne  — which is about 60 miles south by southeast from Orlando. 

The eye of the hurricane is a little further north than Sanford, only in terms of latitude, not longitude. For those out of state, Daytona comes next in terms of latitude.

Orange and Seminole counties have a curfew in effect until 7 a.m. Saturday. Only first responders and people going to and from work are allowed on the freeways. A man was arrested in Sanford — big surprise — allegedly trying to break into a Dollar General at 1 a.m. Friday.

Melbourne Airport reported no major damage, disappointing political hacks because that airport hosted a Donald Trump rally. Kennedy Space Center is currently taking winds of up to 107 mph, but reports no major damage yet. Disney World, Universal, Sea World and Wet N’ Wild are all closed today.

There’s going to be rain and wind today with some spikes in intensity.

As for me, I’m still annoyed that all the local channels broke from regular programming to hyperventilate over this.

Updates on Hurricane Matthew for Altamonte Springs

Update (11:39 p.m. Florida, 8:39 p.m. LA): The storm is shifting east, according to the Orlando Sentinel and at least one local news channel.

Not like a hard right turn in a classic Hollywood car chase, but yeah, it’s going a little bit further from shore. I’m looking at computer models and only one streak has it touching land in the Sunshine State.

Sanford, mentioned earlier in this post, has allegedly been soaked with 5.87 inches of rain in the last 24 hours. Having worked in Sanford, I’ve driven through areas of blinding rain and the moment I leave the city, dryness. Can’t explain it.

Not that we didn’t appreciate the #PrayForFlorida hashtag, of course. We all need a little more prayer in our lives.

If something changes tonight, I’m sure it will wake me up.

Update (8:42 p.m. Florida, 5;42 p.m. LA): You can’t avoid it — every single local channel, every news network, has an asswipe in a windbreaker standing on a pier. Even the local CBS affiliate won’t give you any relief with tonight’s football game. Come to think of it, do I really want to watch the San Francisco 49ers?

Again, my purpose with this blog is to slow the roll of panic. News outlets are treating Florida as if it’s a small state. Driving Florida is something akin to traveling from San Diego to San Francisco. In California, people hear of “The Big One” earthquake for decades. Nobody really buys it.

So when you read “We’ll need body bags if people don’t evacuate” as a headline on The Weather Channel page for Altamonte Springs, it’s complete bullshit.


There is no evacuation order here.

You must be specific. Which sheriff? Otherwise, instant panic.

And trust me, the messages I get from people out west are panicked. If I didn’t used to be in that industry, I might freak out a little, too.

They’re inciting a panic because their web desk doesn’t know what the hell its doing.

By the way, it’s a firm rain.

Update (6:25 p.m. Florida, 3:25 p.m. LA): Current projections of Matthew’s path have it missing Miami, the butt-kicking part of it, anyway. That not-so-sweet spot might tap landfall in Melbourne or Space Coast, as previously mentioned. Technically, I’ll be in a hurricane if that happens.

Again, it’s the people on the coast who had to flee.

Read an interesting story about Cape Canaveral. NASA only built the facility for a Category 2 hurricane. Matthew? Category 4. Good thing the shuttle program was disbanded.

Update (5:25 p.m. Florida, 2:25 p.m. LA): The Weather Channel website has corrected itself. The rain I photographed in the post below will not stop until after 11 p.m. Friday.

There is a curfew in effect for Seminole County, which is just north of where I live, from 5 a.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday. Seminole County, for those who aren’t from here, includes Sanford — where Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman.

Update (4:31 p.m. Florida. 1:31 p.m. LA): This is the nonhurricane rain I mentioned earlier.


It’ll stop in an hour.

My mom was nice enough to call a moment ago, and I had to calm the situation. Yes, Orlando International Airport is closing at 8 p.m. tonight. It’s a prudent move. So is buying some extra food. I have enough pizza and Little Debbie’s to last a while.

They tell you to fill up the tub with water to drink. No thanks. But it will help if the toilet tank needs the water to initiate a flush. So there’s that.

Also, to add some needed perspective: Gov. Rick Scott did say the hurricane will kill you. The exact quote is, “Don’t surf. Don’t go to the beach. This will kill you.”

So would flying a plane. For that matter, so would taking a roller coaster and Disney World figured that out.

Update (2:45 p.m. Florida, 11:45 a.m. LA): There is rain expected at 4 p.m., but that is more typical late-afternoon showers I’ve come to expect since I’ve moved here. Currently, the expectation is for the storm to come not at 8 p.m., but 9. The worst is expected to come to central Florida at about 5 a.m. Winds will spike and continue to gain strength into the 80 mph range from then until 8 p.m.

Authorities are asking to clear the roads at 6 p.m.

Original estimates of five inches of rain in the next day have increased to as many as eight inches.

Aside from Matthew, tropical storm Nicole has been upgraded to Hurricane Nicole. This sucks. I’ve never had any luck with girls named Nicole.

Shelters are opening in Florida. I have not heard of any in Seminole or Orange counties.

In the meantime, I’m watching Ireland play Georgia in World Cup qualifying. Not our Georgia, Russia-typey Georgia.

(First post): Good afternoon, I’m James and up front, I promise this is not a troll post. I do have gallows humor, but I realize many are a little freaked out about Hurricane Matthew. Unless of course, you’re with the Clinton campaign and you see the opportunity to turn disaster into votes. But I digress:
This is for residents of Altamonte Springs, surrounding areas and those curious. The current headline from Florida Gov. Rick Scott is that Matthew “is going to kill people.” I want to temper that. Florida is a big-ass state. For the uninitiated, Altamonte Springs is just north or Orlando, maybe 40 miles from the coast. Those people need to run. I needed to get Domino’s.

I remain convinced I am in no danger. Maybe that’s just the reporter in me. I volunteer. I expect to be summoned to help. Should that happen, I expect to be in a little jeopardy then, but I doubt it. The “hurricane” part of this storm extends about 50 miles from the eye. Beyond that radius, it’s a tropical storm, which is still problematic, but so be it.

You’ve probably heard about Melbourne, where Matthew might touch the state. I’m 62 miles from Melbourne. Matthew would have to stay on land for quite a while, making a 45 degree angle north by northwest.

When Matthew reaches Space Coast, which is closer, I’m 50 miles away.

I am on the tail end of the hurricane part, maybe 10-15 miles in the hurricane, unless it makes an unexpected drastic turn. The winds would be like the bad ones whipping through Cajon Pass. They expect a lot of rain, but there’s going to be more than a foot of it out on the coast.

This is what I know as of 1:39 p.m. on the east, 10:39 a.m. back in L.A. (Updates coming):

Publix will close at about 3, at least the ones in Altamonte Springs. This is what the bread aisle looked like yesterday and today:


Maybe I just have a thing for Latina single moms. Who knows?

Target in Casselberry is open and less hectic, as of now. Remember to get more than food. Towels to the bottom of your doors is a good idea. Virtually every store I went into expects to be closed all day Friday. I did read a story about Waffle Houses staying open pretty much no matter what. Take that, vegans.

It is not expected to rain steady here until 8 p.m. (5 p.m. LA) There are no shelters opened or planned to open yet in Seminole County.

I’m watching “Designated Survivor” on DVR, for those who appreciate irony.   

Squint really really hard and there’s hope for the Lakers

If you saw the Lakers depth chart for the upcoming season — and Google pushed ESPN’s chart straight to the top of its search engine — you would be as deeply startled and disappointed as if you had stayed up to watch Julian Assange online this morning.

Here’s ESPN’s cruel equivalent of a WikiLeaks bombshell, which I downloaded this morning:


Please take a moment to ask God if you’ve suffered through enough horrible basketball yet to be punished further by this graphic.

The fact that Roy Hibbert plays for the Charlotte Hornets not withstanding, there’s a lot on the actual roster that will make basketball fans feel equal parts optimism and loathing for the upcoming season. The preseason, by the way, begins tonight in Anaheim against the equally dreadful Sacramento Kings.

Ultimately, much like the graphic above, this team has far more questions than answers. Having questions alone is a reason for good cheer. With the team last year, we already knew the answer: They were going to stink.

Coach Luke Walton is every bit of an unknown as the roster. Sure, he took over to coach the Golden State Warriors for a spell last year in Steve Kerr’s absence, but how much does that mean? One, the Warriors have an elite roster that knows their game plan. Two, Walton coached with Kerr — who let the Warriors rain three-point shots — but he played under Phil Jackson, who ran the Triangle offense. That offense features free-flowing motion and can help post players.

So are the Lakers trying to reinvent themselves into the Warriors or rediscover the Shaq-Kobe era? We can guess. We don’t know.

In the graphic above, the only roster spot we know is locked up belongs to point guard D’Angelo Russell. How close he is to being an impact player is anyone’s guess. The Lakers like him, but if he were a sure-fire star, he wouldn’t have been playing for their summer league team in Las Vegas. There are also legitimate questions of his maturity level, and he’s supposed to be the conduit for the offense?

Jordan Clarkson is likely your starting shooting guard. The only reason he wouldn’t be is if the Lakers craft a three forward offense of some sort after ingesting copious amounts of hallucinogens. And the Lakers are surprisingly deep at forward.

It seems highly likely that Julius Randle is the starting power forward after a productive first full year, considering he averaged a double-double in points and rebounds per game. However, a team that won 17 games last year can’t etch too many sure things in its roster and the Lakers also like what they’ve seen in Larry Nance Jr. It’s also possible both play in the front court for small lineups.

The idea that Nick Young still draws a paycheck or is listed as a starter in the above graphic is beyond me. Young has been rightfully buried at small forward in the depth chart. No. 2 overall pick Brandon Ingram may not start in his rookie year, but the entire organization will tackle him if he ever steps to “Swaggy P” for advice. Your likely starter is Luol Dang, who is serviceable but not a game-changer.

L.A. hopes Timofey Mozgov is serviceable at center. He brings with him a championship from the Cavaliers and also the eternal emotional baggage from this. I sure hope the Buss family is paying for therapy after that. Should he falter, Yi Jianlian is listed as a power forward but he has seen time in practice as a backup center. He’s a defensive liability but can shoot.

So what to make of it? The gut feeling here is that the Lakers aren’t trying to be the Warriors as much as they are trying to be the Oklahoma City Thunder in the near future — deep, athletic and more importantly, versatile.   

For this season, the Lakers can’t be worse than they were the last two years. Aside from 17 wins, there was this sinking suspicion that they simply didn’t like each other or enjoy the way they were playing under Byron Scott. 

I think there’s reason for optimism. 

I think they’ve turned a corner.

I don’t think the results will be that much better, surely not a playoff team. 

If this team doubles its wins, it misses the playoffs by a mile. However, if the Lakers do win 34 games — which is conceivable — Randle makes a firm connection with Russell and Ingram cracks the starting lineup by the end of the year, then the clouds will finally lift for a franchise that is in desperate need of direction.