May 19--The Rams' move into the James T. Butts Jr. Memorial Stadium in Inglewood has been delayed for at least one year, which may actually be good news for that futile franchise.
Construction delays will buy the team extra time to improve their quarterback situation before gouging SoCal fans with all that expensive premium seating. They head into Year 2 of their return to Los Angeles with inexperience stacked upon more inexperience at that position.
For some reason, Rams general manager Les Snead didn't add a veteran quarterback for depth and protection entering the busy offseason with new coach Sean McVay.
In a recent analysis of all 32 NFL quarterback scenarios, ESPN.com ranked the Rams 29th -- ahead of only the hapless San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns and New York Jets.
That's some ugly company right there. ESPN reporter Dan Graziano offered this take on the Male Sheep:
A year ago, the Rams were confident enough in Jared Goff to make him the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. They traded up to do it, even. But Jeff Fisher and his coaching staff are gone, and Goff is starting over with a new coach who is only nine years older than he is and has plenty of his own ideas about offense and quarterbacks. The organization is committed to Goff for at least a couple more years, and the only backup right now is Sean Mannion.
As such, the story of the season (and the Rams' seasons to come) will be how McVay and his staff mesh with Goff and manage the early part of his career. It remains to be seen how confident either side of that equation should or will be with the other.
Veteran NFL reporter Jason Cole took it a step further in an update for Bleacher Report:
While the Los Angeles Rams coaching staff has been pleased with the progress of Jared Goff this offseason, people within the organization are also extremely pleased with the work of backup quarterback Sean Mannion. The former third-round pick has improved in his quickness of reads and improved his footwork. One person who knows both players well said he wouldn't be surprised to see the Rams go to Mannion if Goff struggles during the regular season.
Goff was winless in seven starts last year, you may recall, after spending half the season sitting behind the immortal Case Keenum.
MYSTERIES OF THE UNIVERSE
Questions to ponder while wondering why Dexter Fowler is playing center field while still recovering from a bum shoulder:
Has Yankees GM Brian Cashman finally figured it out?
How might the Nets screw up another NBA Draft?
Say, how come the blue blood programs didn't land any of the Top 5 college basketball recruits for next season?
Here is what other folks have been writing about Our National Pastime:
David Schoenfield, ESPN.com: "The Milwaukee Brewers are 24-18 and in first place after a 4-2 win over the San Diego Padres on Thursday, their ninth in 11 games. Sure, it's unlikely to last. The odds are long, especially in a tough NL Central where you know the Chicago Cubs haven't yet played their best baseball. The computers give them about 2 percent odds of winning the division, about 10 percent of making the playoffs. You know what, though? It's fun to be in first place!"
Stephanie Apstein, SI.com: "Jon Lester cannot throw to first base. This seems ridiculous. He can paint the black with the game's fiercest cutter, which heads for the lefthanded batter's box before making a sharp right turn. He can curl a curveball past a bat, mix and locate his offerings with precision, and make them all look identical coming out of his hand. Lester is one of the best pitchers of his generation. So why can't he turn 90 degrees to his left and do the same thing he does toward the plate? Of course, it's not quite the same. The mound slopes differently toward first. The throw is longer. The target is higher. Lester has less control over the proceedings, either because he's reacting to an infield dribbler or because he must time a pickoff to trick the runner. And the move is rare enough that each occasion feels notable, an opportunity to screw up anew. He's entirely alone out there. Oh, and everyone knows . . . But since opponents found out about Lester's limitation--some slowly, starting in the 2012 season, and the rest very quickly during the '14 AL Wild Card game--Lester has pitched better than ever. Through '14, his ERA was 3.58 and he put 11.5 men on base per nine innings. Since then: 2.95 and 9.94. Last year, as the ace of the most scrutinized team in baseball, Lester finished second in NL Cy Young Award voting. It is one of the greatest mental achievements in recent baseball history."
Mike Lupica, Sports on Earth: "When Magic Johnson was still playing for the Lakers, and the Lakers would make their one trip to New York City and to Madison Square Garden to play the Knicks, he always described it the same way. 'My one night a year on Broadway,' Magic said. It isn't exactly like that for Mike Trout, the best baseball player in this world. He gets one series a year when the Angels come into Yankee Stadium, a series they will play next month. But now, because of Interleague Play, Trout gets another trip to New York this weekend, when the Angels play the Mets. It is a very big deal, because of Trout's big talent for baseball. The city receives a most honored baseball guest. This isn't an occasion because of the way the Angels are playing, a game over .500. It certainly isn't an occasion because of the way the Mets -- who have been in a freefall over the past week, getting swept on the road by the Brewers and the D-backs -- are playing, in the same kind of hole the San Francisco Giants currently find themselves. No. It is an occasion because of a Jersey kid named Mike Trout, who comes to the East Coast and gets to show everybody that he does things on a baseball field that Mickey Mantle did when he was the age that Trout is now, which means 25."
Ben Lindbergh, The Ringer: "Trout has achieved his historic consistency through a remarkable ability to evolve. Throw him high fastballs designed to elude his low-ball swing, and he'll eventually become one of the best hitters against that pitch. Tell him his arm is weak, and he'll work on throwing until his arm is no longer a liability. Point out that he's stopped stealing bases, and after combining for 27 in two years, he'll swipe 30 in a single season. We've seen Trout stand out as an all-around stud capable of combining best-in-class baserunning and defense and back-to-back top-five finishes in the batting-title race. We've seen him excel as more of a strikeout-prone, home-run-happy slugger who once finished tied for fourth in baseball in dingers. We've seen him lead the majors in walks. However he's gotten there, Trout has always ended up about 70 percent better than a league-average hitter. His latest evolution suggests that he could be even better than that. The Trout we've seen so far this season has combined the best of all previous Trouts. He's hitting for more power than ever before, on pace for his highest home run total. He's striking out less often than ever before, despite another league-wide rise in strikeout rate. He's among the top 20 hitters in walk rate. He's even moving well, ranking in the top 10 in baserunning value with eight steals in nine attempts and his highest-ever rate of extra bases taken."
"I've had lower half problems since I got here, so my batting average isn't the same. My on-base percentage isn't the same. But I'm still producing. I mean, I hit 31 homers with 119 RBI last year. What's wrong with that? I'm pretty sure there are about 300 players in the league that wish they had the numbers I had last year."
Aging Angels slugger Albert Pujols, to USA Today.
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