New York Yankees Flashback: From “Not” to “Very” Good

On a steamy afternoon in New York Yankees Stadium on July 22, 2004, Orlando “el duque” Hernandez and former Yankee Ted Lilly struck out 10 and six respectively, and allowed just seven singles between them through seven scoreless innings. Then in the bottom of the ninth, Toronto righty Vinnie Chulk struck out both Gary Sheffield and Alex Rodriguez in succession, only to be beaten when right fielder Ruben Sierra blasted a 2-1 pitch to just right of dead center for the 1-0 Yankee walk-off win.

It was Madison Bumgarner vs Masahiro Tanaka in a rare San Francisco Giants visit to the Bronx on July 22, 2016, and although each pitched well, Tanaka should have gotten the 3-2 win. Starlin Castro doubled in a run in the home first, and left fielder Angel Pagan‘s error on Castro’s fly in the second led to an unearned run. Tanaka left with a 2-0 lead after six, and Bumgarner was down 2-1 when he left after seven. Mac Williamson tied it in the eighth with an rbi double off Andrew Miller, who would “earn” the victory when Chase Headley scored on Brandon Crawford‘s wild throw to first trying to complete a double play in the bottom of the eighth.

Two things about the July 22, 2-1 Yankee victory over Texas in the stadium that were typical of the 2014 season were that long stretches of innings passed with no scoring, and that two Yankee players had their debuts with the team. Traded for that day, third baseman Chase Headley didn’t enter the game until the eighth of 12 straight scoreless innings to start it. Strangely, the Yanks had finally scored in the 13th on a Brett Gardner double and Jacoby Ellsbury single once J.P. Arencibia homered off David Huff in the top half. And then lefty Jeff Francis, debuting in pinstripes, got a win pitching the 14th, because Headley became a first-day hero by driving in Brian Roberts as the clock struck midnight.

On July 22, 1998, the Bombers beat up on the Tigers, 13-2, bringing the season mark to a healthy 71-25! Orlando “el duque” Hernandez was the beneficiary of all the offense, featuring a Jorge Posada double and home run, and taters from Chuck Knoblauch and Darryl Strawberry as well.

Happy Birthday to Sparky Lyle (1944), who posted a 57-37 record with 139 saves and a Cy Young Award during his seven-year stretch in the Bronx that began in 1972, a time when the team went from “not” to “very” good.

Is the New York Jets’ Offensive Line Strong Enough to lead to a Successful Season?

New York Jets

The past few years the New York Jets’ offensive line has not been pretty, especially the 2017 season which was said to have one of the worst units in Jets history. The Jets’ line was ranked second to last coming into 2018, which says a lot about the players that make up this group.

How did the New York Jets’ line fair in 2017?

Last season, the starting line allowed 47 total sacks which went for a total loss of 319 total yards, opposed to one of the Jets’ better seasons being the 2015 campaign. In 2015, while former veteran center Nick Mangold and veteran tackle Dbrickashaw Ferguson were still present, the o-line only allowed 22 sacks resulting for a loss of 113 total yards. Mangold and Ferguson were a great duo on the line together, causing the run and pass game for that season to be statistically superior.

That’s a huge difference between the two seasons and the failure of the 2017 season is all due to a not so mediocre front five.

Left tackle, Kelvin Beachum had a decent 2017 season, ranked 35th among all tackles and only allowing 4 sacks. Newly picked up center Spencer Long could be just who the Jets need to put forth a strong ground game and help protect rookie quarterback, Sam Darnold. Coming off a bad knee injury Spencer Long doesn’t have to play flawless, but just good enough to show he’s more fit for the job than preceding center Wesley Johnson.

Starting running back Bilal Powell is going to have most of the time due to the departure of former running back Matt Forte, but Powell will not be able to play to his full potential because of his offensive line holding his talent back. Will the Jets’ line be able to protect Sam Darnold and give him some time in the backfield to work his magic? Maybe, but maybe not it all depends on how Darnold plays under pressure.

Big Ten Media Days: A Time To Evaluate The Middle Of The Pack

Big Ten Media Days are just around the corner, and all eyes will be on the star coaches and players of the conference. Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh will draw attention as usual. In line with his personality, Penn State’s James Franklin might steal the spotlight in a more subtle way.

Just about everyone will be interested in what Paul Chryst has to say about Wisconsin turning the corner this year, something that they’ve came so close to doing in past years. It’s not just the top teams in the conference that are worth paying attention to, however.

The teams like Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan are being picked to contend for the title for good reason: they have more talent than they do question marks. When you dive a little bit deeper, and look into the Nebraskas and the Purdues of the world, things get a bit more interesting.

All of the coaches at Media Days will be asked about the problems facing their teams, but for the schools in the middle and bottom thirds of the conference, there’s more to be gained from solving each problem correctly. Ohio State wins a lot of games, and they just did what was expected of them. Anything less than a national title will be considered a failure by a decent number of fans.

The schools below them, though? The way that their coaches prepare for the season can potentially have a huge impact, even if they don’t win the conference or the national championship. Nobody will be surprised if Trace McSorley leads Penn State to the conference title game.

But if Nebraska fixes their defense and wins a major bowl game? Or if Purdue finds their star at QB and sneaks into a bowl that exceeds their expectations coming into the season? It’s huge news. So when Media Days come around this Monday, don’t just pay attention to the big dogs.

They’re at the top for a reason, but when it comes to answering the questions that we have going into the season, the Minnesotas and Northwesterns can be just as interesting as the Michigans and Ohio States.

New York Giants’ Saquon Barkley: “I really don’t feel pressure from no one at all.”

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

Saquon Barkley is already one of the biggest stars on the New York Giants’ roster, despite not playing a snap in the NFL at this point. It’s something that comes with a lot of pressure and media attention, and Barkley talked about that and other things recently in an interview with the New York Post’s Steve Serby.

Barkley talked about the explosiveness of the Giants’ offense this season. But before that, he talked about the expectations on him and the potential for him to become the next face of the franchise.

“Face of the franchise? I disagree with that. I don’t view myself as the face of a franchise, because one, I haven’t done anything yet, and two, there’s so much talent on this team. You look at the years that the Giants have been successful, it really wasn’t just one star that got it done,” he said, also mentioning that stardom comes with success in New York City and that it is something that will come with winning.

“Obviously people shape a career for me, or shape what I should be. But I already have a high standard for myself. I really don’t feel pressure from no one at all,” Barkley also said about the pressure around himself and the team. It’s not hard to see, even from the outside, that Barkley really does have a high standard for himself. You don’t have the kind of college career that Barkley did, without going above and beyond the minimum standard.

Additionally, Barkley talked about the current talent on the roster. “I think when you look on paper, it’s all there. You can ask anybody that knows football. But it’s a lot easier said than done. You gotta hold each other to a standard, push each other every single day. And I think if we’re able to do that, have that chemistry, I think the sky’s the limit for our offense.”

Reassuringly for Giants fans, Barkley would mention that the image of Odell Beckham Jr. in the media is very different than his personality in real life. While he said that it’s Beckham’s decision, he also said that he expects the receiver to be there. Finally, Barkley reaffirmed an earlier prediction, that the Giants have enough talent to make the playoffs.

“Everybody in the NFL has the talent to be a playoff team. We just gotta find a way to have one more point than our opponent every week.”

Giants Get Big Boost In Week 1 Showdown Against The Jacksonville Jaguars

The New York Giants may be the underdogs against the Jacksonville Jaguars in week one, but that shouldn’t cause us to give up hope. The additions of Saquon Barkley and Nate Solder could be exactly what the offense needs to regain their form and start off the season on the right foot.

The Jaguars will also be without defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., who was suspended by the NFL for the first game of the season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. The game is scheduled for Sept. 9 at MetLife.

The influence of Fowler Jr. on the Giants:

In Fowler’s sophomore season, he recorded eight total sacks, 18 tackles and three fumble recoveries. He will be looking to take a major developmental jump in 2018, which bodes well for a Giants team that has yet to play a game with the new coaching staff and rebuilt roster.

While Fowler has only started one game for the Jags in two years, his influence off the bench is significant. His impact on the Giants likely wouldn’t have been worrisome, but it will allow Barkley to tire out the legs of the front four as they attempt to stop him.

The Giants will likely utilize their rookie back and test the strength and cohesiveness of the offensive line in their first game. It will be interesting to see their game-plan against a strong Jaguar defense. Also, getting a look at how head coach Pat Shurmur uses Barkley, Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram as a unit will be fun to watch.

Expect to see a lot of mismatches and movement at the line of scrimmage to keep the defense honest. Being unpredictable and baiting the safeties will be the recipe to success for the Giants in week one.

Mets Trade Closer Jeurys Familia To Athletics For Two Prospects

New York Mets, Jeurys Familia

The Mets have finalized a deal with the Oakland Athletics Saturday afternoon trading 28 year old closer Jeurys Familia for two prospects and $1 million in International bonus pool money.

The two prospects the Mets are getting in return are 3b Will Toffey and Rhp Bobby Wahl,

The deal also includes the Athletics picking up the remaining $3 million left on Familia’s contract for the remainder of the season.

Wahl, 26 was pitching to a 2.27 era in triple a Nashville this season. He was a 5th round draft pick by Oakland in 2013 from Ole Miss and has previous big league experience appearing in seven games out of Oakland’s bullpen last season.

Toffey, 23 was a fourth round draft pick out of Vanderbilt in 2017, he was hitting.244 with five homers and 32 rbi this season in high a Stockton. Prior to the trade he was ranked 17th on the Athletics top 30 prospects list by MLB.com.

Familia ends his mets career 3rd on the franchise’s all time saves list behind John Franco and Armando Benitez.

Mets Manager Mickey Callaway has said that he likely won’t name a definite replacement closer, but rather go with a committee based upon matchups.

Robert Gsellman got the save opportunity Friday night but isn’t going to be the only guy the mets will throw out there in the 9th.

“I thought that Robert Settled in last night and did a pretty good job in the ninth. I think we have multiple options,” Callaway said. “I think we’d have to get creative with who is coming up in the lineup. All those things we would have to take into consideration.”

With the Mets out of any realistic playoff scenario expect them to trade more assets as the deadline approaches on July 31.