New York Yankees: Was Yusei Kikuchi Using Pine tar? You decide

On Thursday the New York Yankees and the Seattle Mariners matched up with the Bombers losing 1-10,  but something obscure was spotted on the bottom of Mariners starting pitcher, Yusei Kikuchi‘s, hat.

The Major League Baseball‘s rulebook states, “The pitcher shall not apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball,” and a violation of the rule is a punishment of an immediate ejection and a 10-game suspension.

Yankee fans remember Michael Pineda when he was caught with a foreign substance on his neck during a game against Boston in 2014 and was given a 10 game suspension.

What does pine tar do for a pitcher?

Pine tar allows for a better grip, on both sides of the field. As a hitter, putting pine tar on your bat is completely legal; as long as it doesn’t exceed 18 inches from the bottom of the bat. For a pitcher, pine tar also allows you to get a better grip. However, it allows the pitcher to get a higher spin rate which is detrimental to a hitter on off-speed pitches.

The Seattle Mariners defeated the New York Yankees 10-1 Wednesday night. Kikuchi went 7 2/3 innings, only allowing one run on three hits. Fanning three, Kikuchi issued one walk.

New York Giants Slot Corners to Battle it Out For Starting Job

New York Giants cornerback, Grant Haley.

Before the 2019 NFL Draft the New York Giants‘ secondary looked rather thin – Janoris Jenkins, Sam Beal, and Grant Haley. One veteran and two second-year players, one of which was injured for his entire rookie season with a shoulder ailment.

Haley filled in valiantly in the slot alongside B.W. Webb, but added competition through the draft in Julian Love might put his starting hopes in jeopardy.

Love, a feisty outside corner out of Notre Dame, will compete for the starting slot job. He’s a bit undersized which pushes him to the interior where he will match up with quicker receivers similar to the build of Sterling Shepard. This is one of the position battles that will take place during training camp.

As a fourth-round draft pick, Love can be an instant starter and impact player. This will allow first-round pick Deandre Baker to feature as the team’s No. 2 option. These two corners changed the narrative completely following the draft, as the secondary was extremely thin and nearly void of talent beyond Jenkins.

How has Janoris Jenkins helped the New York Giants draft picks?

Defensive coordinator James Bettcher has been impressed with the leadership role Jenkins has taken on, stating:

“Janoris Jenkins hasn’t been great during this offseason program, he’s been unbelievable as a coach with some of our young corners. I find myself walking over to coach someone up and see Janoris with him and you say ‘okay, Janoris’ got it.”

The veteran’s advice and mentorship will be extremely beneficial for players like Baker and Love, allowing them to take the next step in the development with ease.

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The plan, ideally, is to keep Beal as a reserve option behind the outside corners and let Love and Haley battle it out. The Giants’ 2018 undrafted free agent started in nine games last year, playing in a total of 10. He earned 33 total tackles and 2 passes defended, per Pro Football Reference. According to PFF, Haley was the #46 ranked corner in the NFL last season.

Hopefully, a year of experience under his belt and some added competition will bring out the best in not just him, but Love too.

New York Knicks: Anthony Davis Deal Is Alive?

New York Knicks, Kevin Knox

The New York Knicks still may be involved in the Anthony Davis sweepstakes.  SNY’s Ian Begley reports, that the New Orleans Pelicans have ‘gathered intel’ on Knicks rookie forward Kevin Knox.

Up until now, it has been unclear what package the Pelicans would want for Davis.  It seems to be somewhat vague.  We do know multiple picks then young talent would be required for one of the best all-around players in the league.

The Knicks did have some conversations before about Davis, but nothing moved the needle.  The Pelicans may have been tossing around ideas about the Knicks while looking more into Knox.

Knox had an up-and-down rookie season.  Some good, some bad.  There is still a lot of work to do, which he has started working this off-season with Head Coach David Fizdale.  However, the kid has potential.   Maybe the Pelicans are intrigued again?

For the Knicks to offer a package that would blow the Pelicans away, multiple first-round picks need to be the start.  Followed by, Knox and younger players with upside.   Mitchell Robinson, Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina and Allonzo Trier would most likely could be included.  Also, depending on where the Knicks land in the lottery on May 14th, the Pelicans could desire that pick as well.

If the Pelicans are still interested after May 14th, the Knicks will have a lot of decisions to make about future of their franchise.  Do they package this year’s and one or two more first-round picks with young assets for the Davis?  Or, do the Knicks stay the course and add one or two superstars to their young squad?

Oh yeah, money will also be a major factor in landing Davis.  That is one thing that may keep the Knicks from landing Davis alongside one or two more stars.

Landon Collins Speaks Out About Desire To Stay With New York Giants

One of the big departures this offseason for the New York Giants was undoubtedly that of Landon Collins, one of the team’s leading tacklers in addition to being a defensive captain and key member of the secondary. Replacing Collins isn’t an easy job and it’s easy to wonder if the new safety duo for the Giants, Jabrill Peppers and Antoine Bethea, will be able to fill the shadow that they find themselves in.

There’s been various theories for why the Giants let Collins walk away in free agency. Some might claim that it was purely a financial move while others say that the Giants likely didn’t want to risk paying a player who has suffered from injuries, or that Collins is no longer a good scheme fit for the Giants.

However, we haven’t heard too much directly from Collins himself about his feelings on the exit. That’s changed now, with Collins talking to NJ Advance Media about his feelings on leaving the team.

“I’m starting a new chapter and I’m on a good team. When I left the Giants, I was kind of heartbroken. I loved the Giants. When I started there, I wanted to finish there. I wanted to be one of those guys to finish his career on one team. They didn’t give me the opportunity to do that. It’s a business. I can’t do anything about that,” Collins said.

It’s common knowledge that the Giants didn’t do much in contract negotiations with Collins, leading to the belief for most of the 2018 season that the team was going to use the franchise tag on him. However, time passed after the window to use the franchise tag opened and nothing happened, and soon enough, that window had closed and the Giants hadn’t made the move.

But it’s also common knowledge now that Landon Collins wouldn’t have played under the franchise tag, contradicting earlier statements, which could have been a large part of the reason why it was never used on him.

Regardless, Collins is now on the Redskins and the New York Giants have moved on to other players at the position, no matter what the actual reasons behind those decisions were. Collins claims that the Giants never tried to sign him, but other factors such as the large amount that Collins and the Redskins agreed to as well as Collins’ desire to not play under the franchise tag make it seem like that might not be the fault of the Giants organization.

New York Giants: Solid Free Agent Safety Option Still Available

With the additions of Jabrill Peppers and Antoine Bethea, the New York Giants’ safety positions are in much better shape than they were at the beginning of the offseason. The New York Giants let their star safety, Landon Collins, walk away in free agency and were not left with many talents at the position.

However, general manager Dave Gettleman made it a point to fix the secondary this offseason. The Giants drafted three cornerbacks in the 2019 NFL Draft (four if you count Sam Beal). But they did not draft a safety.

Antoine Bethea is a solid veteran who fits defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s defense. Unfortunately, Bethea probably will not be around for too long, being that he is 34 years old. It would be wise of the Giants to add another young safety to the roster to pair with Peppers.

Luckily for the Giants, there is a solid free agent safety option still available:

Tre Boston Stats And Highlights

Free agent safety Tre Boston would be a solid addition to the Giants’ defense. Boston has been in the NFL for five seasons and has bounced around to three different teams. Most recently, Boston played for the Arizona Cardinals in 2018.

In his lone season with Arizona, Tre Boston was a solid defender against the run and the pass. He tallied up 79 combined tackles, 1 forced fumble, 3 interceptions, and 9 passes defended. No matter where Boston has played, he has been a solid safety.

Tre Boston was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in 2014. Dave Gettleman was the Panthers’ general manager at the time. This connection could lead the Giants to have some interest in Tre Boston.

Boston was not the full-time starter during his tenure with the Panthers. However, when he left the Panthers to play for the Chargers in 2016, Tre Boston showed what he could do as a full-time starter.

Boston starter 15 games for the Chargers in 2017. In that season, Boston was a true playmaker totaling 5 interceptions and 8 passes defended. He was again solid against the run with 79 combined tackles.

Tre Boston had two solid years of play with two different teams. This demonstrates his true young talent and his ability to handle adversity. At only 26 years old, if the Giants sign Tre Boston, they will be getting a dependable young safety to pair with Jabrill Peppers for the future.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUY83saY2LQ

New York Giants Offensive Breakout Candidate of the Year

The New York Giants added several high-profile rookies in the 2019 NFL Draft, but I want to focus on a specific player that has been brushed under the rug as stars like Saquon Barkley and recently drafted QB Daniel Jones to paint the headlines.

Both the offensive and defensive units have been upgraded heading into the upcoming season – well, maybe not the offense as they lost Odell Beckham Jr. and added Golden Tate and Kevin Zeitler in his wake. The jury is still out on that deal.

However, one offensive weapon has a massive opportunity to emerge as a winner in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade.

New York Giants: Offensive breakout candidate

TE Evan Engram:

The Giants’ 2017 first-round draft pick has had an underwhelming start to his NFL career, but he certainly isn’t void of the talents required to excel. Speed, agility, focus…all of these attributes Engram possesses but he’s faltered in the fundamental categories that determine his worth on the football field.

He’s been plagued by dropped passes over the course of his two-year career, compiling a total of 15. At just 24-years-old, there’s a ton of potential to be extracted from the tight end, it’s just a matter of tapping into it – giving him more opportunity to makes plays and building his confidence.

This is why I believe that trading Beckham Jr. will ultimately help him succeed in the long-run. When OBJ was on the field in 2018, Engram averaged just 41.75 yards-per-game. Without him, he averaged 81 yards-per-game. Now, you could make the objection that the sample size is too small, but he consecutively put up more yards when the former Giant wasn’t on the field – a pretty clear indication of elevated play.

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This indicates that he will be even more efficient and produce heightened numbers in 2019. In addition, general manager Dave Gettleman made it a priority to build out the offensive line in an attempt to give Eli Manning more time in the pocket. We can assume that more time for Manning will equal more production for the offense, which will directly translate to more yards and action for Engram.

Considering those factors in information, he’s our offensive breakout candidate for 2019.

Prediction: 900 receiving yards, 7 touchdowns, 74.3% catch-rate

The One Thing New York Knicks Fans Would Never Do

New York Knicks

Despite a horrific season, the New York Knicks have a reason to smile.  Reports have surfaced that disgruntled Los Angeles Lakers fans will protest today outside the Staples Center.

Lakers fans will take to the streets of LA today and voice their own opinions on how frustrated they are with the team.  This is not a good look for the Lakers who also have the world’s best basketball player.  Well, second best.  Kevin Durant is the guy now.

With all this hoopla surrounding the Lakers organization these days, one thing is for sure.  The New York Knicks faithful fans would never do something like this.   Knicks fans just come right out and say it.

There’s no need to put this out there and protest.  Knicks fan voice their opinions right on the spot.  No holds bar and they do not sugar coat stuff.  If you want the real deal on how people feel about their teams, New Yorkers win that crown every time.

Knicks fans everywhere are just sitting back and watching all this Lakers drama happen with their feet up and big bag of popcorn.  From the Magic Johnson nose to a fan protest.  It is like a reality show.

Do not get me wrong, the New York Knicks have had their fair share of problems.  They have been a laughing stock and the basketball world knew it.  But now, it is the Lakers turn.

I am not suggesting that there is an hated heated rival, but it is more a friendly battle for the top of most valuable franchise maybe.  For once, it is nice that NBA fans around the world are not laughing and point fingers at the Knicks.

 

New York Jets: What Quinnen Williams Brings to the Defensive Line

New York Jets, Quinnen Williams

If signing linebacker CJ Mosely this offseason didn’t immediately upgrade the New York Jets‘ defense, the drafting of Alabama star Quinnen Williams surely did.

The Jets made an easy choice at No. 3:

Williams was the No. 3 overall pick in the NFL draft – a stud interior defender with the ability to rush the passer and stop the run.

The defensive lineman’s former coach, Nick Saban, only had good things to say when asked of his influence:

“He’s athletic,” Saban recently told NFL Network about Williams. “So, he’s a really good pass rusher. He’s not a gigantic, huge, overpowering guy, but the rest of it is perfect for this day and age of football.”

His agility and speed make him a threat on every play, especially considering he’s a three-down lineman with an unstoppable motor. Racking up 45 solo tackles, 19.5 for a loss, and 8 sacks in 2018 tell the whole story. He will dominate the trenches from day one and draw multiple offensive linemen towards him in order to stop him from reaching the quarterback.

“I go back to the initial quickness [and] the use of his hands,” Saban said. “This guy is a really smart, instinctive player. I think sometimes people overlook how that impacts someone’s production… and his production here was fabulous.”

His initial quickness and elite usage of his hands make him not only the best interior defender from the draft but potentially a part of an elite group in the NFL.

The jury is still out on if he can live up to expectation, but talent like his translates at the next level, even if he only had one elite season at the college level. Coming out of Alabama where he matched up against NFL level talent frequently only prepared him further for the next stage.

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The New York Jets have built a fantastic defensive line:

Featuring alongside Leonard Williams, Henry Anderson, Steve McLendon, and fellow draft-pick Jachai Polite, Williams and Co. could emerge as one of the better defensive fronts in the NFL. The talent level across the board is immense, and just Quinnen alone transforms the unit.

Moving forward, I expect the Jets to utilize him in many different ways – being in the 4-3 scheme allows them to move him around to different spots. He even has the ability to play defensive end in specific packages. His diversity and dynamic style of play will keep the opposing offense on their heels and undoubtedly force them to allocate more resources to stopping his elite moves.

 

New York Giants Best Articles From Around the Web 5/10/19

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

With New York Giants veteran quarterback Eli Manning preparing to play in the final season of an illustrious career, we take a moment to remember all he has done. From the left-handed throws to the magical fumbles…well, maybe we should leave those in the past and just recall the good moments.

The David Tyree catch, the Mario Manningham catch along the sidelines, and the many Salsa dances Victor Cruz enjoyed thanks to Manning’s throws. Nonetheless, we will have the opportunity to see him succeed once more in 2019. But this year will be different, he has a young player waiting in the wings. The pressure is on for Eli…time is ticking and he has to make every moment count.

Bringing your daily links to the NFL’s New York Giants

John Fennelly – Chad Wheeler remains Giants’ starting right tackle, for now

Dan Schneier – The Giants found a hidden gem in offensive lineman James O’Hagan

Curt Macysyn – New York Giants: Kyle Lauletta clinging to his roster spot

Serena Burks – Giants already see Deandre Baker as their No. 2 cornerback

Alexander Wilson – New York Giants: What Massive DT Dexter Lawrence Bring to the Defense

Looking for some great NYG tweets to enjoy? Click on this link and join the crew of die-hards. All we talk about is Giants football…literally. If you enjoy that I promise you’ll enjoy following.

 

New York Yankees: Has J.A. Happ Finally Found His Groove?

New York Yankees, J.A. Happ

Heading into Thursday night’s game against the Seattle Mariners – finishing up a four-game set in which the New York Yankees were leading 2-1 on the series, starting pitcher J.A. Happ took the mound in hopes of making it 3-1.

Last year, Happ joined the Bombers and showed his best stuff, going 7-0 over the second half of the season. This year, he hasn’t been nearly as effective. Going into his latest victory with a 4.93 ERA tells most of the story. His pitches have been weak, his velocity inconsistent, and his confidence low, but that didn’t stop him from changing the narrative against the Mariners.

Happ went five innings on Thursday, allowing just one hit and three walks. He struck out seven batters in the process before passing the game on to Adam Ottavino and the Yankees’ lethal bullpen. His day was done, but it begs the question — is Happ finally back to the quality he produced in 2017?

While the starter did have a fantastic day, gathering a no-hitter through 4.2 innings, the bullpen was also stellar. They picked up the remaining four innings and turned it into a one-run ball-game, allowing a late homer in the 9th off of Aroldis Chapman.

New York Yankees’ J.A. Happ stated after the game:

“I felt like it (four seam fastball) had a little better drive… and it was the most consistent it’s been all season,” Happ said of his improvements, according to the NY Daily News. “Which is a good sign for me.”

With the Yankees bats quiet the past few weeks, it’s been the pitching that has picked up the slack in a big way. Solid starting performances and tremendous bullpen efficiency only scratch the surface when it comes to the close wins being pulled out by the injury-riddled team.