New York Yankees Flashback: Pitching Exploits, Outfielders Too

New York Yankees

New York Yankees‘ Catfish Hunter‘s glorious career was winding down in 1977. And although he would enjoy a surprising resurgence in the 1978 season’s second half without which the Yanks’ miracle climb from 14 down would never have happened, he was running down. The four-hit, 11-1 dominant game he posted against the Twins on August 24, 1977, was his last win of that season. The homers by Roy White, Mickey Rivers, Chris Chambliss, and Bucky Dent weren’t needed as it turned out, but no doubt much appreciated nonetheless.

It was all good for Denny McLain in 1968. Cy Young Award, League MVP, and his record as the last guy to win 30+ games in a season seems safer than ever from being equaled several decades later. But Denny did have a misstep on August 24, 1968, when, despite the fact that he threw another beaut, someone threw a little better. And that someone was young Yankee righty Mel Stottlemyre, who whipped McLain and the Tigers, 2-1.

On August 24, 1960, Yankee hurler Art Ditmar handled almost everyone in the White Sox lineup easily, except for Roy Sievers, who reached him for two home runs and a double. But Art’s mastery over Roy’s teammates paid off in the form of a 3-2 win over Herb Score and the Sox.

When Wee Willie Keeler of the Highlanders (Yankees) banged out two home runs in a 9-1 win over the St. Louis Browns on August 24, 1904, both round-trippers were of the inside-the-park variety.

I hope Brett Gardner views this as an honor in line with his being the longest-serving Yankee in 2018, as he is the lone Yankee player to have been born on August 24 (1983). Brett played in Staten Island in 2005, Tampa and Trenton in 2006, and Trenton and Scranton in 2007. He has been the starting left fielder ever since. Gardner was selected by the Yankees out of the College of Charleston in the third round of the 2005 amateur draft.

New York Knicks: Looking Back On The ‘Linsanity’ Era

In honor of Jeremy Lin’s birthday being a few days ago, August 23rd, let’s look back on that brief ‘Linsanity’ period for the Knicks, how exciting it was and what could have been done differently.

Flashing back to the Linsanity period for the Knicks:

First off, the period of Linsanity was absolutely remarkable. We, Knicks fans, had a no-name come off the bench, quickly emerge as a fan favorite and was an unstoppable force, because no one knew who this guy was and what his game looked like. Lin was signed by the New York Knicks on December 27th, 2011. Lin was signed by Knicks after Iman Shumpert went down with a knee injury. If it wasn’t for Shumpert’s unfortunate injury, Linsanity does not happen.

Lin barely got any time even after being signed until he finally got his chance against in the, then, New Jersey Nets. As he entered the game, every Knicks probably sat in their lazy-boy saying, “Who is this guy?!?” I know I did. Jeremy then caught our eyes by racking up the stats for that game. Lin rained in 25 points, dished out 7 assists, snatched 5 rebounds and was the reason the Knicks got the ‘W’ that night. All fans probably thought that this was a feel good story, thinking this was a one-time-thing, not knowing what the future would hold.

Jeremy continued to be the true spark the Knicks needed at the time, since Carmelo Anthony and Amare were sidelined. They won two straights games, solely because of Lin, then defeated John Wall and the Wizards with Lin rolling down broadway for a big time slam suggesting that this is turning into something special. His next game, he poured in his career-high 38 points against Kobe and the Lakers. Lin had the sold out Garden and threw the Garden faithful into a frenzy. Linsanity had officially begun.

Next game, came his signature moment as a New York Knick in Toronto. Lin continued to impress and during this close game, I just had that feeling that something was going to happen, in our favor. The game came down to the finally seconds, 5.7, Knicks with the ball and who else would try to win the game? You guessed it, Jeremy Lin.

Walking, strutting, stunting, dribbling down the middle of the court and I remember getting goosebumps watching that, knowing something was about to happen, and then BANG! Jeremy Lin from the top of the key, game winning triple. That is one Knick moment I will never ever forget. It literally brought me off my seat, jumping into the air.  After that unbelievable shot, which I still remember seeing Lin jump and down, nodding his head skipping towards the opposite end of the court.

But then, Anthony returned to the lineup and Linsanity was pretty much over from there.  Lin was not the same player.  Melo was again the focal point of the offensive and teams found out how to deal with Lin.  Then, Lin ended up requiring surgery from a torn meniscus.  It was the end of Linsanity and, truthfully, very saddening.  He would return for the first-round of the playoffs, but wasn’t at 100% and did not contribute.

Now, after the season concluded, came the big question.  Do the Knicks resign Lin?  Knicks had the early bidding rights to Lin and I can still remember where I was during all of this.  I’m not a big proponent of resigning players to a 3 to 5 year deal after coming an injury.  However, from the Linsanity period, I still felt like the Knicks needed a young point guard.  

Who better at the time then Jeremy Lin?  Fan favorite, that spark and he put people in the seats.  Did he want big money off an injury?  Yes.  Did he deserve big money?  No, but he deserved to be compensated for the Linsanity stretch.  The Knicks also could match whatever deal any other team would offer to Lin, so the Knicks were in the drivers seat.  However, there had been reports of some jealousy in the Knicks locker room with the vets upset over the Linsanity period.  Tough, I thought.  It’s a business.  But, I did not want to see the Knicks lose Lin.

I was sitting elbows up at Dogfish’s taproom in Delaware when the news came on the television.  “Jeremy Lin has agreed on a 3 year deal with the Houston Rockets for 25 million dollars.”  I was drained.  But, the Knicks had a chance to match, so there was some hope at the end of the tunnel.  However, that was quickly flushed again.  During the same time I was at the bar, beginning to drink away my sorrows from being a Knicks and now possibly losing out on Lin, the news came on the television again. “The New York Knicks won’t match the Rockets offer.”  Linsanity in the Big Apple was officially over.

Do I think the Knicks should have matched and resigned Lin? Yes.  Do I think it shouldn’t have even gotten to that point and the Knicks should have resigned him before even testing the market?  Triple yes.  The Knicks would have been a different and better team if they were able to retain Lin, but it just wasn’t in the cards.  As I look back on that period, it was one of the most exciting times to be a Knicks fan. 

The man from Harvard gave the city so much excitement and hope that has been something we have not seen until we got our unicorn, Kristaps Porzingis.  Is there more exciting ‘sanity’ periods coming in the near future for us fans, ‘Knox-sanity’ possibly, we don’t know.  What we do know, that we are all in this for the long haul.  Whatever next ‘Sanity’ periods comes along we will be there, strapped in for another rollercoaster of a ride. 

Michigan Football: Quarterback Jeff George Jr. Will Transfer To Pittsburgh

Michigan quarterback Jeff George Jr. already has one transfer under his belt, but it looks like he didn’t find what he was looking for with the Wolverines. George, who is of course the son of 13 year NFL veteran Jeff George, joined Michigan leading up to this season after previously being a contender for the Illinois starting quarterback job. He’ll leave the team, though, without taking a single snap in a game.

George spent the last three seasons with Illinois, registering the most playing time during the 2017 season. Illinois had a carousel of quarterbacks last year, but George won playing time regardless and threw for 1,273 yards and seven touchdowns. Not bad for a team that went 0-9 within the Big Ten conference and didn’t exactly provide much support for its quarterbacks.

If George had stayed with the Illini, he would likely be the starting quarterback this year. Instead, he made the move to Michigan over the summer despite not having much chance to start. It looks like George hasn’t given up on his football career, though. According to The Wolverine Lounge, he’ll head to Pittsburgh as a graduate transfer.

Pitt’s likely starter, Kenny Pickett, is a sophomore who is much less experienced. He featured in four games last season, making 66 pass attempts with a 59% completion percentage. He’s competing with another transfer, former USC and Arkansas quarterback Ricky Town. The addition of George should make the QB competition more competitive than it already is, as George showed a good amount of potential while playing with Illinois.

Back in Ann Arbor, it seems that Shea Patterson has won the job. The case of the Ole Miss transfer should be one of the more intriguing ones in the country, as Patterson may be the first true star quarterback that Jim Harbaugh has had since taking over as head coach of the Wolverines.

The fact that Michigan and Pitt both have quarterback battles featuring transfers just goes to show how much they impact the game nowadays.

New York Giants: 5 Takeaways From The Snoopy Bowl

While there was plenty to be happy about from the New York Giants in their victory over the Jets in the Snoop Bowl, there is also plenty of constructive criticism to go around on both sides of the ball.

The Jets and Sam Darnols began the game by marching 75 yards for a touchdown, finished off by a 10 yard TD run by Bilal Powell. The Giants’ defense looked absent, giving up completions on third down and allowing the Jets’ running game to run wild and free.

Luckily, the next two possessions for the Jets resulted in a punt returned for a touchdown and a punt. There was plenty of holes in the secondary for the Giants, and it puts a big questions mark on a defense that is very thin at the cornerback ans safety position.

Nonetheless, here are five takeaways from the game for the New York Giants:

1.) CUT JONATHAN STEWART

Three carries for -7 yards sums up last night’s performance for Jonathan Stewart. He has a total of -10 yards in the preseason and is struggling immensely to provide any sort of value on this team. Stewart is seemingly the most questionable signing that GM Dave Gettleman has made this year, with the exception of maybe Patrick Omameh who’s been a turnstile at right guard.

It was thought that Stewart would come in and provide value as a mentor for Barkley and as a short-yardage grinder. That narrative is changing quickly, as the $3.3 million he’s due this year makes him seem almost worthless.

2.) Davis Webb shows inconsistencies

One thing I have noticed with Davis Webb is that he plays far better when he’s with the first-team. Maybe it gives him more confidence or he needs better quality players around him to bring out his qualities – his second-string performances have been less than adequate.

He finished the night 5/11 for 73 yards. Nothing special – he got a few field goals out of his time on the field, but ultimately it was a waste opportunity to show out for a second week in a row.

3.) Eli Manning still has the goods!

Manning finished the night with a stellar 17 completions on 23 attempts, 188 yards, and a 97.7 QB rating. Reminder, this was against the Jets’ first team without his two best players – Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr.

The veteran QB seems to be comfortable in HC Pat Shurmur’s offensive scheme, resorting back to the play action and risk taking player he once was. Additionally, left tackle Nate Solder has been a rock on Manning’s blind side, giving him the confidence to sit back in the pocket and throw strikes to his receviers.

If the right side of the line can hold up, we could be in for a much-needed boost from Manning.

4.) Ray-Ray Armstrong is impressing

The Giants may have found a gem at linebacker in Ray-Ray Armstrong, who led the team with four solo tackles against the Jets.

His height gives him the extra leverage in pass coverage, and given he’s a former safety his skills are going to use alongside Alec Ogletree. With B.J. Goodson and Ogletree manning the middle primarily, the opposing quarterback can pick on the linebackers by using tight ends and pass-catching running backs. Armstrong makes this a big more difficult. Expect to see him earn more reps in the weeks ahead.

5.) Cody Latimer looks legits

Despite only catching 1 pass for 54 yards, Cody Latimer seems to be exactly what the Giants needed in a big bodied receiver with the ability to get behind the defense. In fact, he’s exactly what Brandon Marshall wasn’t for Big Blue.

Of course, it’s only preseason, but it’s good to see Latimer getting some serious reps and catching a few balls prior to the regular season. Additionally, he’s a superb blocker, and when Saquon Barkley comes beaming around the edge, Latimer will be there to pave the way.