New York Yankees Flashback: A Slammer, a Hammer, Goose and the Splinter

New York Yankees

The inside-the-park homer, a grand slam, that New York Yankees’  Lou Gehrig hit on July 5, 1934, was the big blow in the Yanks’ 8-3 win over the Senators. It was the 17th of the Iron Horse’s career-record 23 grand slams, a record that would not be matched for more than 70 years.

A sinking batting average and hobbled play on a deteriorating knee in need of surgery eventually sapped much of the good from Hideki Matsui‘s 2007 season, but his July AL Player of the Month Award was well earned.

A Yankees victory:

Homering for the second straight day, his two-run tape-measure shot off Minnesota setup man Pat Neshek in the eighth inning lifted the Yanks to a 7-6 victory, on July 5. Staked to an early 5-2 lead, Kei Igawa failed to make a quality start yet again, and four relievers carried the home team to victory.

The cream of the crop of good Yankee players born July 5 are mound men Jack Quinn (1883) and Rich “Goose” Gossage (1951). Knuckleballer Quinn went 81-65 over two New York AL stints that spanned seven years. He pitched until he was almost 50 years old, and won 247 and lost 218, all told.

The King of Intimidation, reliever Gossage (1951) saved 151 games for the Bronx Bombers. His career total of 310 is truly amazing when you consider that he won 124 as well. The Veterans Committee finally righted a wrong, and inducted Goose into the Hall of Fame in 2007.

Hall of Fame lefty-hitting outfielder Ted Williams (2002) is easily the most famous ballplayer to die July 5. Playing exclusively with the Red Sox from 1939-1942 and 1946-1960, the Splendid Splitter hit 521 home runs and knocked in 1,839 runs.

New York Giants: 3 Free Agent Safeties That Could Help The Secondary

As the New York Giants prepare for training camp and the position battles that ensue, it might not be a bad idea to take a look at some free agent safeties that could provide competition for Andrew Adams and Darian Thompson. Neither player has been able to secure the starting job for the Giants, as Thompson has worked with the second-stringers this offseason and Adams has split first-string reps with Curtis Riley.

There are two names that jump off the free agent board and should be a serious consideration for a Giants secondary that is being filled with undrafted free agents and aging veterans. While general manager Dave Gettleman has done a stellar job boosting the trenches and linebacker corps, the secondary has been left to fend for itself. But give him credit where it’s due… It’s impossible to turn an entire team around in just one season, especially with salary cap restrictions. Gettleman has done his share of what was asked of him – turn the Giants into a winning football team.

The free agents:

1.) Kenny Vaccaro

The former New Orleans Saint suffered a groin injury in 2017 which forced him onto injury reserve a little over the mid-season mark. He struggled to play through it and the team decided it was in their/his best interest to take him off the active roster.

Despite the injury, he was having a solid year as a slot corner. The Giants are in dire need of a true slot guy – Vaccaro can provide support at safety and in the slot. At just 27 years old, Vaccaro has plenty of life in his legs and would be a great signing if the Giants can muster the caps-space. It all comes down to money and whether Vaccaro is willing to take his chances on a one year deal.

2.) Eric Reid

At just 26 years-old, Eric Reid is one of the best cover safeties in the NFL. His ability to play the deep ball and keep receivers in-front of him is high-class, but injury concerns and missed tackles have plagued his career. He has missed 12 games in two seasons and can be a liability when tackling in the open field. Offering him a one-year “prove it” deal would be the best case scenario, and one he might take for that matter. Offering him a chance at redemption on a rejuvenated Giants squad could be exactly what he need to get his career back on track.

3.) Tre Boston

After a one-year contract with the San Diego Chargers, Boston became a coveted cover safety. He struggled previously in Carolina but showed that his potential and abilities were no fluke. He would be a great addition to the Giants’ secondary – he’s durable and would be a stellar addition in regard to covering the deep ball and seam routes ran by opposing tight ends.

https://twitter.com/TheFBLife/status/811060139683905537

The Giants gave up a touchdown to a tight end every game leading up to week 11.

Overall, any one of these safeties would provide an immense upgrade at the safety position, and for Vaccaro, he could contribute in the slot as well. It’s surprising that none have been signed yet, but I wouldn’t rule out the Giants working out a few enticing players.

 

Paul Finebaum To The Big Ten Isn’t An Impossible Scenario

If you asked college football fans what they imagined when they think about the SEC, the Paul Finebaum Show would be one of the first things to come up. In fact, Finebaum and the conference have become almost synonymous over the years, with his show becoming well known nationwide for featuring some of the most intense fans in the country. Could Finebaum actually leave the SEC behind, to cover its rivals up north?

Well, it’s more likely than you may think. While ESPN is close to reaching a deal with Finebaum at the end of his five year contract, they haven’t actually done so. According to SportingNews, Fox is pursuing Finebaum. Fox owns the Big Ten Network, which is the reason there’s talks of Finebaum getting a BTN show.

Of course, there’s a reason why the title of this article is “Paul Finebaum To The Big Ten Isn’t An Impossible Scenario.” It’s not exactly the most likely scenario, it’s just one that hasn’t been eliminated yet. There’s not a lot to go on at this point, other than the Big Ten’s executives desiring a “Paul Finebaum-like show”, and ESPN taking its time with closing the deal.

Why are we talking about this, if it’s not the most likely outcome? Because there’s still a legitimate chance that Finebaum moves networks. It’s not smooth sailing in the negotiations with ESPN, and Finebaum has already threatened to stay out of SEC Media Days unless his deal is done by the time they happen.

There’s no guarantee that he moves to the Big Ten, if he does leave ESPN. The Sinclair Broadcast group is also interested, as well as the third largest radio station operator in the United States, Cumulus Media. Perhaps the most threatening to ESPN is Sirius XM, a place where Finebaum could move to without changing his content drastically.

But if he did start covering the Big Ten, it would be an interesting thing to see. After all, the conference can compete with the SEC in terms of having loyal and crazy fans, and right now, the Big Ten doesn’t have any equivalent show that puts that aspect of the conference on full display.

Our 2018 Major League Baseball All-Star Game Selections

With Major League Baseball’s All-Star voting coming to an end last night, here are my selections for this year’s mid-summer classic. Before getting to the list, I just want to say my selections are not a prediction and I tried to keep my New York Mets interest to the side. This means they could be dramatically different than the numbers from the fan voting. One of the biggest problems with the fan vote is many players who are having great years are over shadowed by players having down years but are very popular. Each player on this list could easily be taken out for a player having a year just as strong.

American League Starters (# appearance if selected)

Catcher: Wilson Ramos, Tampa Bay Rays (2nd)

First Base: Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox (2nd)

Second Base: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros (6th)

Third Base: Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians (2nd)

Shortstop: Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles (4th)

Left Field: Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox (3rd)

Center Field: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels (7th)

Right Field: Aaron Judge, New York Yankees (2nd)

Designated Hitter: J.D. Martinez (2nd)

Starting Pitcher: Luis Severino, New York Yankees (2nd)

American League Reserves

Catcher: Yan Gomes, Cleveland Indians (1st)

First Base: Justin Smoak, Toronto Blue Jays (2nd)

Second Base: Jed Lowrie, Oakland Athletics (1st), Gleyber Torres, New York Yankees (1st)

Third Base: Alex Bregman, Houston Astros (1st), Miguel Andujar, New York Yankees (1st), Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals (3rd)

Shortstop: Andrelton Simmons, Los Angeles Angels (1st), Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians (3rd)

Outfield: Mitch Haniger, Seattle Mariners (1st), Eddie Rosario, Minnesota Twins (1st), Nick Castellanos, Detroit Tigers (1st)

Designated Hitters: Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners (6th), Shin-Soo Choo, Texas Rangers (1st)

American League Pitchers

Starting Pitchers: Justin Verlander,Houston Astros (7th), Gerrit Cole, Houston Astros (2nd), Charlie Morton, Houston Astros (1st), James Paxton, Seattle Mariners (2nd), Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians (1st), Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians (3rd), Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox (7th), Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays (1st)

Relief Pitchers: Blake Treinen, Oakland Athlets (1st), Collin McHugh, Houston Astros (1st), Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners (1st), Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees (5th)

National League Starters

Catcher: J.T. Realmuto, Miami Marlins (1st)

First Base: Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves (3rd)

Second Base: Scooter Gennett, Cincinnati Reds (1st)

Third Base: Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies (4th)

Shortstop: Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies (1st)

Left Field: Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers (3rd)

Center Field: Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies (3rd)

Right Field: Nick Markakis, Atlanta Braves, (1st)

Designated Hitter: Max Muncy, Los Angeles Dodgers (1st)

Starting Pitcher: Jacob deGrom, New York Mets (2nd)

National League Reserves

Catcher: Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals (9th)

First Base: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds (6th)

Second Base: Ozzie Albies, Atlanta Braves (1st), Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs (1st)

Third Base: Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals (4th), Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati Reds (1st)

Shortstop: Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants (2nd)

Outfielders: Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets (1st), Albert Almora, Chicago Cubs (1st),

Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates (1st)

National League Pitchers

Starting Pitchers: Mike Foltynewicz, Atlanta Braves (1st), Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies (1st), Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals (6th), Jon Lester, Chicago Cubs (5th), Miles Mikolas, St. Louis Cardinals (1st)

Relief Pitchers: Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals (2nd), Jeremy Jefferes, Milwaukee Brewers (1st), Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers (1st), Jordan Hicks, St. Louis Cardinals (1st), Archie Bradley, Arizona Diamondbacks (1st), Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers (3rd), Brad Hand, San Diego Padres (2nd)

There are plenty of well deserving players to make this years All-Star Game. For the first time it could end up as a Subway Series matchup on the mound. The ASG will take place July 17th at Nationals Park in Washington. If anyone has a player they would have like to see on the list, give us your feed back on our Twitter @EmpireSportsNYM

Knicks: Kyrie Irving Rumors And Fizdale Firing Up Ntilikina

New York Knicks, Frank Ntilikina

The New York Knicks are in a peculiar place in the NBA. They are a reborn team with a plethora of youth and talent, but are also locked up in massive contracts held by Joakim Noah and Tim Hardaway Jr. Finding a way to work around their salary cap issues will be a test in itself, but those problems won’t stop the rumors from flowing.

Let’s start with the first Knicks rumor:

Kyrie Irving. Yup, last week it was Kevin Durant and now it’s Irving. ESPN’s Ian Begley believes that the Celtics will have to compete with the Knicks to retain the dynamic point guard. Kyrie grew up in West Orange, New Jersey, meaning he would be close to home. And who doesn’t like stealing the best player from any Boston team anyway!?

Injury concerns are always a serious question when it comes to a player that hasn’t been able to consistently stay on the court. The Knicks will have to consider that factor and play with fire, just as they did with Derrick Rose. While Irving’s proneness to injury isn’t as severe as Rose, it’s still a risk. Joining a team with Kristap Porzingis, Hardaway Jr., Enes Kanter, Mario Hezonja, and rookie Kevin Knox could be persuading enough. The youth is the Knicks’ biggest selling point, and showing that their potential is real with a solid 2018-19 season will be the deciding factor in bringing a a big name to the Mecca.

Checking in on Frank Ntilikina:

Coach Fizdale has made it a priority to push Ntilikina to his max, trying to extract the aggression from the young guard.

“He’s a good basketball player,” Fizdale said, according to Newsday.com. “It’s going to be a process with him of constantly emphasizing aggression and always be in ‘go’ mode and don’t be concerned as much about taking care of everybody and that his aggression will draw defenders to help him take care of everybody.”

The 19 year-old guard struggled last season with unselfishness. He has all the ability in the world, but just can’t seem to drive to the hoop and finish. Often times, he would look for the pass when he had an open lane or would try to hard to get the ball to his teammates, resulting in a turnover. Fizdale will help him become a complete player, making him an offensive threat, but also helping him work on his defense and off the ball traits.

There’s a lot of potential in the frenchman, and if anyone can bring it out, it’s Fiz.

New York Giants Safeties: Andrew Adams Vs Darian Thompson

As we take a glance at the safety position for the New York Giants, we must take a step back and realize that this has been a position of weakness for quite some time. The competition between Andrew Adams and Darian Thompson should not provide means for optimism, but rather just average play that can make plays at the right time for the Giants.

Starting off with New York Giants’ safety Andrew Adams:

Adams was an undrafted free agent out of UConn. He has flashed potential in the NFL but was never able to hold onto the starting free safety job for long. Landon Collins has the strong safety spot locked up for the foreseeable future, so the free safety job is open for the taking.

The third-year safety started in just four games last season, which was far less than the 16 Thompson enjoyed. He finished the season with 28 tackles, two passes defended and one forced fumble. If you crunch the numbers, we can assume that if Adams started all 16 games, he would have finished the season with 112 total tackles, eight PD, and four FF. That’s a solid season for any safety. It begs the question: Why didn’t he play more?

Steve Spagnuolo tended to rely on Thompson more in coverage, as he considered him more of a ball-hawk. With the Giants blitzing with Collins and corners on occasion, Spags clearly favored Darian to drop back in coverage and contain the deep ball. To say the least, he struggled.

Thompson finished the season with 61 total tackles and six passes defended. He missed tackles and blew coverage regularly, which ultimately has him fighting for a reserve spot this offseason. Both Adams and Curtis Riley split reps with the first team during mini-camp.

Some quotes from Adams in regard to his competition with Thompson:

“Darian and I came into the league as rookies,” Adams said during an appearance on NJ Advance Media’s The Talk is Cheap Podcast. “We’re very close. I’m actually going to his wedding, on Friday. We help each other. We study together. We know that there’s competition, but we came in together, we’re close friends, so all it does is make us better.

 

“He raises his game, I raise my game, which, that ultimately helps the Giants’ organization. That’s the main goal. The goal is to get that fifth [Lombardi] Trophy in the case. That’s all we’re both looking to do. We’re both just looking to help the organization, any way that we can.”

While Thompson was known for his ball-hawk abilities at Boise state, his transition to the NFL has been bumpy. In his rookie season he was forced out in week two with an injured foot. He proceeded to spend the rest of the season rehabilitating his injury, never setting foot on the football field again. He made his return in 2017, which was practically his rookie year. It’s possible he could return with confidence with a year of experience under his belt, similar to Collins, but it’s not encouraging to see him playing with the second team.

I wouldn’t rule out Thompson stealing the starting job just yet, but this will be a battle to keep an eye on during training camp.