Aside from “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” the most appropriate song that should be attached to professional sports is the 1986 Janet Jackson hit, ‘What Have You Done for Me Lately?”
As has been widely speculated, Los Angeles Lakers’ head coach Frank Vogel was shown the door today (Monday) after the understandably disastrous 2021-22 season that concluded on Sunday.
It came one day after the Lakers finished an all-too-rare two-game winning streak with a 146-141 overtime win over the Denver Nuggets. The team finished 33-49 (.402 winning percentage) and in fourth place in the NBA Pacific Division.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Frank both on and off the court,” said Rob Pelinka, the Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager. “Frank is a great coach and a good man. We will forever be grateful to him for his work in guiding us to the 2019-20 NBA championship. This is an incredibly difficult decision to make, but one we feel is necessary at this point. All of us here wish Frank and his wonderful family all the best for the future.”
Vogel is almost certainly not to blame for a disappointing season in which his two top stars – LeBron James and Anthony Davis – missed a total of 68 games. What’s a little less easy to explain is how millionaire pro athletes performed decently at home (21-20) but miserably (12-29) on the road. Under the NBA’s hugely forgiving post-season criteria, even the injury-ravaged teams ought to be able to win 15 or 16 games away from their cozy arenas.
It’s the nature of pro sports (including high-profile college sports) that a coach is to be credited or blamed for the successes and failures of the people who are actually doing the work on the court or field. Win and you are a genius; lose and you are an idiot. And you’re only one bad season away from being handed your hat.
In other words, “What have you done for me lately?
ANGELS: Typically, they are off to a stumbling start, losing three of four out of the gate. Silver linings? Yes. Noah Syndergaard turned in a top-notch pitching performance against the Astros on Saturday, working five strong innings and giving up just two hits. Signing him was a gamble after he missed nearly two seasons with an elbow injury, but so far, so great.
With their new six-man starting rotation, it looks like – with Shohei Ohtani – the Halos have one-third of a solid starting corps. However, their bats better wake up: through four games (1-3) the team is hitting .231.
DODGERS: It’s still incredibly early in the season, but it’s hard to look at the National League West standings and see the Blue Crew (1-2) in fourth place. But, it’s still so early …
CLIPPERS: The Other NBA Team in Town has reeled off five straight wins and finished at 42-40, good for third place in the NBA Pacific and a spot in the post-season.
DUCKS/KINGS: A tale of one city, two teams. The Anaheimers lost 5-2 to the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday and sunk further out of the Stanley Cup wild card race. They’re now 16 points back. The Kings, on the other hand, lost 6-3 to the Minnesota Wild but remain comfortably in third place in the NHL Pacific with a guaranteed slot in the playoffs.
Final out: “Even when we were healthy, I don’t think we were able to reach our full potential for whatever reason” – Anthony Davis on the Lakers season.
“Sports Monday” is written by Pete Zarustica.