The LA Lakers just lost the center they traded for last year, Dwight Howard, the biggest name to ever leave the Lakers after only a year. Lots of mixed feelings in LA though, because of the way he and the team played last year. The LA Times' Bill Plaschke thinks it's all for the best, but I don't quite see it that way. Howard left because Mike D'Antoni is a crappy coach, and he's the guy who should be fired. He's destroying the Lakers. The Little Buss who hired him should turn this team over to his sister. Plaschke may be right about Howard's character, but if Phil Jackson had been hired as coach, he would have dealt with that during the season. But Little Buss's ego wouldn't let him hire Jackson, so the Lakers are likely in for a long slide. Plaschke's fantasy about the Lakers rebuilding around LeBron James in 2014 is laughable. Nobody has faith in the Lakers organization or aura anymore. Until they fix that, nobody is going to think that the Lakers' uniform is gold. Kobe's chance for one more championship was done the minute D'Antoni was hired as coach.
Meanwhile, the SF Giants are in a major swoon, a kind of slow motion but relentless nightmare in which everything that went right in their dream season has gone sour. Pitching is getting shelled, they aren't getting timely hits, they are making lots of dumb baserunning mistakes, they aren't scoring in the late innings. Just as the Giants and the Pirates seemed on parallel tracks earlier in the season, right now they're almost mirror opposites. The Pirates are winning when they are ahead in the late innings. They are winning in extra innings. They are winning against teams they are supposed to beat, and winning against the best at a healthy clip. Now the Pirates are in first place in their division, about 20 games above .500. The Giants are last in their division, below .500.
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