New York Yankees Flashback: The Captain Reaches 3,000

New York Yankees, Derek Jeter

A hit for the New York Yankees history books:

Hit No. 2,999, a single to left, led off the bottom of the first, and history came two innings later as New York Yankees‘ Derek Jeter powered David Price‘s seventh pitch over the wall in left center for a 2-2 tie in the game, and history, the Yankee Captain’s 3000th career hit.

Amazingly, once he scored after his fifth-inning double (No. 3,001), he tied the score again. Although it was followed by a double steal, hit No. 3,002, a sixth-inning single, went for naught, but when he went 5-for-5 on this record-setting day with a single (No. 3,003) in the eighth, he drove in the winning run in a 5-4 Yankee victory over Tampa Bay on July 9, 2011.

When Brett Gardner homered in the first inning of a 6-2 Yankee win over Oakland in the Stadium on July 9, 2015, it came about two hours before the announcement that the pinstriped left fielder had made the AL All Star squad as a replacement for the injured Alex Gordon.

Infielder Cole Figueroa, added to the roster that day and playing third base, doubled twice and scored twice in this, his first Yankee game. (He would play in just one more.) While getting 23 outs, Masahiro Tanaka allowed just two hits, both unfortunately grouped with a second inning error and leading to the A’s two runs.

With Thurgood Marshall, Jr., in attendance, the Yanks celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education decision that spelled the death knell of segregation, on July 9, 2004. Javier Vazquez prevailed over John Halama of the Devil Rays 5-4, and center fielder Kenny Lofton reached four times, scored twice, and knocked in one.

The Yanks swept a double dip from the Tigers on July 9, 1932, 7-6 and 14-9. In the latter, Ben Chapman tied a record, not because he hit three home runs, but because two of them were of the inside-the-park variety.

The New York Giants’ Offense Finally Has Balance – But How?

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

Addressing several positions on both sides of the ball is hard enough in one offseason, but plugging in serviceable players at high salary-cap positions is a much more difficult task. General manager Dave Gettleman managed to do just that for the New York Giants, as he begins to upgrade the team as a whole.

One major factor that resulted in the Giants falling to a 3-13 record in 2017 was the lack of balance on offense. Despite the fact that several injuries severely strained the potential of the unit, there was a lack of talent and experience at several positions. Wide receiver was the only position that had any sort of quality, yet still managed to struggle early in the season.

One might think having Odell Beckham Jr. is all it takes to have a high octane offense, but that’s far from the case. Keeping the defense on their heels and forcing them to be honest requires multiple aspects of the offense to be more than capable. Gettleman made those arrangements, drafting Saquon Barkley and signing several offensive lineman to achieve one thing… balance.

Barkley brings an unparalleled athleticism to the field to coincide with Beckham, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram. That provides the Giants’ offense with premier talent at wide receiver, tight end, and running back – three positions that are essential to the success of any offense.

Engram will be looking to take his talents to a new height for the New York Giants in 2018:

Engram will look to build upon his rookie season with a second-year breakout. In 2017, he dropped eight balls which was a concern, but not devastating considering the role he played after the significant injuries forced Beckham and Brandon Marshall out for the remainder of the season. Adding Barkley will open up the seam for the starlet tight end and allow him to pry open the defense like a freshly cooked lobster. His stats at Ole Miss don’t represent the quality he provided last season, but we should expect to see a major improvement in the months ahead.

Ultimately, quarterback Eli Manning will be the head of the offense – dictating the plays and ensuring that his weapons are utilized properly. He is the glue that keeps the unit together and provides the balance in which success will be fostered.

New York Mets Series Preview: Philadelphia Phillies (7/9-7/11)

The New York Mets hope to turn things around against the Philadelphia Phillies as they play four games in three days. The Mets have been dreadful at Citi Field where they have lost 17 out of their last 20 games at home. Their bats have disappeared over the last 18 innings as the combination of Blake Snell, Nathan Eovaldi and the Tampa Bay Rays bullpen shut them down over the weekend. The Phillies continue to surprise everyone and find themselves in a first place tie with the Atlanta Braves. Surprisingly the Mets have taken three out of the four games they have played against the Phillies in 2018.

Probable Pitching Matchups

(7/9, 4:10 PM) Zach Eflin (7-2, 2.97 ERA) vs. Zack Wheeler (2-6, 4.36 ERA)

(7/9, 7:10 PM) Aaron Nola (11-2, 2.41 ERA) vs. Corey Oswalt (0-1, 7.94 ERA)

(7/10, 7:10 PM) TBD vs. TBD (Great Matchup)

(7/11, 7:10 PM) TBD vs. Jacob deGrom (5-4, 1.79 ERA)

The Mets offense continues to flounder which has forced their batting average to drop to .229. The only team worse is the Baltimore Orioles, who swept a two game series from them earlier this year. Brandon Nimmo and Asdrubal Cabrera are having terrific years, but no one has the ability to drive them in once they get on base. The combination of mediocre hitters and frequent injures have led to this lackluster Mets offense.

deGrom deAll-Star

On a positive note, Jacob deGrom was named the Mets lone All-Star. deGrom has been the only bright spot on a very disappointing team. He leads all of baseball in ERA and has a chance to start the midsummer classic. Max Scherzer was also named an All-Star and the partisan crowd in Washington may hold back deGrom from getting the start. The same deal happened to Matt Harvey and Clayton Kershaw in 2013. Harvey started the game at Citi Field, but Kershaw was having the better year at the time.

Phillies are Contenders Again

The Phillies have been the biggest surprise out of the National League this season. They have started July on fire, winning five of their first six games. The Phillies offense includes five guys with double digit home run totals and eight with double digit double totals. Outside of Carlos Santana, their regular lineup is all home grown players. This is the same trend many contenders like the Astros, Cubs and Yankees have established.

Aaron Nola is the lone Phillies All-Star for the Phillies this season. He has finally rounded in to the ace the Phillies felt he would be with he was taken seventh overall in the 2014 MLB Draft. He has 11 wins, a 2.41 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 116 innings. Zach Eflin has not had the same hype Nola has, but he has pitched like an ace as well. He has finally put it all together to put up a 2.97 ERA after two rough seasons to start his career.

Matchups to Lookout For

Odubel Herrera vs. Jacob deGrom: 6-27 (.222) Walk, 8 Strikeouts

Cesar Hernandez vs. Jacob deGrom: 3-16 (.188) 4 Walks, 4 Strikeouts

Asdrubal Cabrera vs. Aaron Nola: 4-11 (.273) Strikeout

Michael Conforto vs. Aaron Nola: 3-10 (.300) Home Run, Walk, 2 Strikeouts

Interesting Stats

Aaron Nola during night games in 2018: 6-1, 1.94 ERA, 55.2 IP, 55 Strikeouts

Hitters against Jacob deGrom w/RISP in 2018: 10-78 (.128) 35 Strikeouts

New York Mets Injury Report: July 8, 2018

New York Mets, Noah Syndergaard

The snake bitten New York Mets have struggled with injuries once again this year. Even more than ever, they need their key players to return. One of their stars seem content with sitting on the sidelines while their team struggles, instead trying to figure out how to get on the field. It becomes scary when these take more than one page and then you see another team who only has four players injured.

Mejia is Back

Jenrry Mejia (suspension) has conditionally been reinstated from his permanent suspension for the 2019 season. This is not a true injury, but it has kept him off the field since 2015 after he was handed a lifetime suspension. Mejia tested positive for performance enhancing drugs for the third time in his career which warranted the suspension. Mejia has a 3.68 career ERA and could certainly help the Mets in 2019 if he can still compete at a high level.

Jerry Blevins (bereavement list) has been away from the last couple of days due to the passing of his grandmother. Paul Sewald has taken his spot in the bullpen for the time being. We wish the best to Jerry and the rest of the Blevins family.

Jason Vargas (calf) threw a simulated game on Saturday. He already threw one on July 4th and should be heading on a minor league rehab assignment shortly. If everything works out well, he should be expected to return around the All-Star break. Mets fans and the organization hopes he takes his time coming back since his ERA is a sparkling 8.60.

Bruce Slowly Coming Back

Jay Bruce (hip) will resume taking batting during the week. He has been out for the last two weeks due to a strained right hip and has had a disappointing season due to multiple injuries. The Mets are not sure on whether Bruce will need a rehab assignment, but the more time he spends out of the lineup will increase the chances of him being sent on one. There is no clear timetable for his return.

Noah Syndergaard (finger) made a rehab start for the Brooklyn Cyclones on Sunday after throwing a 50 pitch simulated game earlier last week. Syndergaard threw five innings allowing two hits, one run and struck out seven. He topped out at 99 mph during his start and was sitting at 98. Syndergaard will take the injury day-by-day, but his next start could come in a Mets uniform. If the Mets want any chance of getting back in the race they will need him.

Where Is Cespy?

Yoenis Cespedes (hip, quad) resumed baseball activities on Thursday. Cespedes has been a lost man for the last few weeks. No one knows how far or close he is from returning because he does not talk to anybody. He is beginning to show the characteristics that has made him a tradable player over the years. Cespedes has no problem sitting on the sidelines if the team if the team is underperforming. He only wants to push himself if the team is winning. His chronic leg injuries are becoming a big issue and has help him back from winning the MVP he has been focused on winning.

David Wright (back, shoulder) took batting practice on back to back days at the end of June and was more active than he has been. There is a very low chance he returns in 2018, but hopefully he gets through the season without any setbacks. Wright is pushing 36 years old and cannot play everyday anymore, but he could likely produce the same way Todd Frazier is. A .220 average with a .390 slugging is definitely numbers Wright could put up if he is healthy and that is not asking for much.

T.J. Rivera Coming Back?

T.J. Rivera (elbow) began a rehab assignment with the St. Lucie Mets on Thursday. Rivera is finally returning to the field after 10 months of recovery from Tommy John Surgery. He will need a couple weeks to get back in baseball shape but he could return before the month ends. He is a .304 hitter in just over 300 ABs and the Mets could certainly use his bat in the lineup.

A.J. Ramos (shoulder), Juan Lagares (toe), Travis d’Arnaud (elbow) and Rafael Montero (elbow) will continue to be sidelined for the entire 2018 season.

Big Ten: Who Has The Best 2019 Recruiting Class Right Now?

It’s the offseason, but college football is one of those sports that never really stops. Recruiting is something that happens year round, and when there’s no games to be played, it takes the spotlight. Incoming freshmen classes can be the difference maker in deciding which teams are winners and which are losers, but who is doing the best in recruiting right now?

For the Big Ten, the race to the top is between the same teams that have led the conference for the past couple of years, but in a different order. In 2018, Ohio State and Penn State were the kings of the Big Ten when it came to recruiting, with Michigan beating out Nebraska for third place and finishing just above the bottom of the national top 25.

But for 2019, Michigan is on pace to take the throne. They’ll have to keep up the pace, but they’ve already brought in players in volume and are dead even with OSU and PSU in their number of five star recruits, with one. Their defensive line will gain big additions next year with Chris Hinton and Stephen Herron Jr, who play at strong and weak side defensive end respectively and are ranked as the second and fifth best recruits at their position.

Joining that group of defensive linemen is Mazi Smith, a local recruit from Grand Rapids, the seventh ranked defensive tackle in the 2019 class and the third ranked player from Michigan. Michigan’s 2019 class is the fifth best in the nation, their eleven three star recruits giving them an edge over their rivals from Ohio State, who have ten four stars but only two three stars.

Ohio State shouldn’t be slept on, however. Their sole five star recruit is better than Michigan’s, as Garrett Wilson sits at number 12 in the national rankings and is ten spots above Chris Hinton. Wilson, an explosive receiver with shifty feet, is also the top recruit in the highly competitive state of Texas. They’re also adding Harry Miller and Doug Nester, the second ranked center and the third ranked guard in the country.

According to 247Sports, the Buckeyes also have the best chance to win the commitments of defensive end Zach Harrison and offensive tackle Darnell Wright, who are ranked at four and five nationally. The top two teams in the Big Ten aren’t that far ahead from the third placed team in the conference recruiting rankings, however.

Penn State’s class doesn’t have as much volume, but they do have quality. Their top commit is Brandon Smith, a five star inside linebacker who will help keep their Linebacker U reputation alive. Smith is the 32nd best recruit nationally, but the top one from the state of Virginia.

They’re also predicted to win over another one of their top targets, number three safety Lewis Cine. They aren’t predicted to beat Ohio State out in five stars, and they aren’t projected to get the commitment of any other five star recruits, but their existing commitments and their competitiveness in recruiting four star players should help them keep the pace and easily secure at least the third best class in the conference.

Below these three teams, the disparity in recruiting becomes clear. Michigan State has one five star player, but only one four star and thirteen three stars. Purdue and Minnesota are immediately below MSU in the national top 25, at spots 21 and 23. Both of them have 16 three star recruits, and less than three four stars.

The battle for the top class in the Big Ten will be fought entirely in the Big Ten East, just as it has been in the years since Penn State’s national resurgence. It’s interesting not just because of the recruiting battle, but because it will increase talk of the Big Ten East being the toughest division in college football.

Who will win in the end? That depends on what the remaining recruits do, but it’s clear that the race for the top spot is between two of the most familiar brands in the conference and college football as a whole: the Michigan Wolverines and the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Knicks: Why Coach Fizdale Is The Perfect Fit For Ntilikina

New York Knicks, Frank Ntilikina

Finding a way to extract the offensive prowess from New York Knicks’ 19 year-old point guard, Frank Ntilikina, will be the most difficult task for coach David Fizdale. The young french point guard has struggled with scoring and attacking the rim, especially in his rookie season. That trend continued into the first summer league game for the Knicks.

Ntilikina must work on his offensive production, as he often tried to force passes and backs away from trying to score in favor of dishing the ball to his teammates. He recorded three turnovers. Rookie Kevin Knox stole the show with an impressive dunk to start off the game for the Knicks, but Frank continued to struggle on offense, despite displaying his immense defensive skills.

He reminds me a bit of Iman Shumpert with his athleticism and elite defense, but he never really became a complete player as his offense lacked. For a point guard, that’s unacceptable.

According to the New York Post, coaching Fizdale stated:

“I thought especially late, he attacked the rim, made a couple of good plays to Mitchell. He’s going to be aggressive, but I don’t want to get to a point where he stops being who he is. I know everyone has a vision of what he should be, but there’s things he does well. … I want him to keep those attributes while being aggressive. I liked the way he played [Saturday].’

Ntilikina finished last season averaging just 5.9 points per game and shot 36.4% from the field. In the first summer league game, Frank was assigned to Trae Young, the Oklahoma scoring phenom. In the first half, the french-man put up a good fight, making it extremely difficult for Young. In the second half Young began to take over, as he finished the game with 21 points and three 3-pointers.

Will Frank be the Knicks’ starter at OG?

Ntilikina will have competition for the starting point guard spot with trey Burke and Emmanuel Mudiay vying for the spot. Burke is the most experienced of the three and finished 2017 as the starter. He averaged 12.8 points, shot 50.3% and 36.2% from the 3-point line. Ultimately, it will come down to Frank’s scoring abilities and if he can manage to increase his numbers from last season. He must have the confidence to pull up and shoot if he wants to lock up the starting spot for the next few years.

 

Evan Engram Details The Influence Of Saquon Barkley On The Giants

Having a stellar running game to go along with a solid passing game is the recipe for success in the NFL. The New York Giants are lucky enough to have both, starting in 2018. The drafting of running back Saquon Barkley puts the offensive unit in a whole different stratosphere, since Eli Manning has never had a back as good as Barkley. He will open up the offense and keep the opposing defense honest as they attempt to cover Odell Beckham Jr., Evan Engram, and Sterling Shepard.

It’s simply impossible to cover four players that often draw double teams. It will force defenses to assign Barkley to linebackers, and we all know how that will turn out.

According to tight end, Evan Engram, Barkely is going to revolutionize the offense:

“You look at teams with a solid running game, and great running backs, it opens the door for a lot of things in the passing game,” Engram said, according to NJ Advance Media. “Especially over the middle of the field, because that’s where a lot of tight ends get their production. It’s exciting. I’m excited to see him make the transition. I’m excited to get to work with him, and kind of give some veteran advice for him.”

According to general manager Dave Gettleman, Barkley was the best athlete coming out of college in the past 30 years. His measurables were off the charts as he recorded more bench reps than most offensive lineman and ran a sub 4.4 40 yard-dash at 234 pounds. His talents are unique and generations, just take a gander at this ridiculous clip.

“Saquon’s a great player,” Engram said. “He’s an all-around back. He’s going to come in and help us immediately. We just have to get him in there, keep learning the offense, and start getting the chemistry going with everybody.”

Making the transition to a new offensive scheme is never easy, but it’s surely exciting when you have a few new faces that make the entire unit better. Pat Shurmur will bring over a playbook that utilizes the strengths of each player. Consider the fact that he made undrafted quarterback Case Keenum a star with the Minnesota Vikings. With players like Barkley, OBJ, Engram, and Shepard, the sky is the limit.