New York Mets: Mickey Callaway Has Been Fired

New York Mets, Mets

Our long national nightmare is over! The Mets have fired manager Mickey Callaway after two seasons as manager. Callaway was 163-161 with the Mets and was known for his positivity which masked his questionable in game decisions. The last two seasons were marked in disappointment and ignorance which led to the much needed change.

The Mets fired Callaway along with bench coach Jim Riggleman. Callaway still had one year to go on his deal, but it seemed like the walls were caving in on him all season. The first half of the season was a disaster and there were calls for him to be fired in mid-May. The Mets suffered some of the most grueling losses of the season and limped to a 40-50 record at the All-Star break.

Locker Room Commotion

On camera, Callaway was known for his unwavering confidence. After a brutal loss against the Cubs, Callaway uncharacteristically got in the face of reporter Tim Healey after Healey said “see you tomorrow, Mickey.” He told Healey not to be a “smart ass” and then it escalated to a point where Jason Vargas threatened to fight Healey.

That day signified how bad of a tailspin the Mets were in. Callaway seemed lost on handling his bullpen and there were reports of him being controlled like a puppet by Van Wagenen. Despite all of that, his players still fought for him and tried to dig the team out of the deep hole they were in.

Second Half Resurgence

The Mets never felt they were dead and buried. They were 46-26 during the second half and got as close as one game away from a playoff spot. It was too big of a deficit for the Mets to climb out of and they ended up just missing out on the postseason. The renewed confidence had somehow given a new life to the idea of Callaway returning for the 2020 season.

In the end, it seemed like a no brainer to move away from Callaway. He made multiple rookie mistakes over his two seasons at the helm. At times he was over matched and out managed. The best move is to wipe the slate clean, because there is plenty of talent on the roster going into 2020.

What is the next step now? New York is a huge market and the Mets will have high expectations going into 2020. Joe Girardi seems like the easy move, but the Mets are not willing to overpay for a manager. Carlos Beltran and Joe Espada have also emerged on what will likely be a long list of managerial candidates.

Callaway was a hold over from the Sandy Alderson regime. If Van Wagenen picks the wrong guy, it could be the only opportunity he has to hire a manager. For the sake of his future, Brodie should go with the safe option instead of aiming for a home run.

New York Yankees: Big Maple announced as Game 1 starter for ALDS

New York Yankees, James Paxton

The New York Yankees will begin their 2019 postseason run on Friday against the mighty Minnesota Twins in the American League Division Series. James Paxton will take the mound for the Yankees for game one at Yankee Stadium.

“I expect him to go pitch really well,” said manager Aaron Boone. “(He’ll) have a ton of confidence in his ability to do that. He’s got, obviously, all the weapons and all the equipment to go out there and be great.”

Paxton has been lights-out in his last ten starts of which he has won. He posted a strong 15-6 record during the regular season and was credited to a 3.82 ERA. In 29 games started and 150.2 innings pitched, the “Big Maple” fanned 186 players respectively.

The left-hander has also posted strong numbers pitching in pinstripes at home. Paxton was credited to a 3.35 ERA at home compared to a 4.33 ERA on the road.

“He’s really done a good job in kind of settling into being here in New York, being a Yankee,” said Boone. “I have no reservations about him not being able to not flourish in the environment.”

Masahiro Tanaka will take game two in the Bronx and Luis Severino will pitch the third game of the series in Minnesota.

CC Sabathia was left off the ALDS roster because he’s still dealing with shoulder troubles, per Aaron Boone. Sabathia, who is planning on retiring following this season, received a cortisone shot last week in his shoulder and did not respond well which causes his removal from the roster.

New York Giants: Saquon Barkley Could Be Back Sooner Than Expected

The New York Giants are on a two game win streak despite being without their best player for a game a half. Saquon Barkley went down with an ankle injury against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Initial reports indicated that Barkley would be our for quite a while. Saquon was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain that would keep him inactive for 4-8 weeks.

However, it now seems like Saquon Barkley might be able to return to game action a little sooner than expected.

Saquon Is Confident He Can Beat The Timetable

Saquon Barkley’s injury was a serious one that was supposed to leave the team without its best player for a month or longer. But according to Saquon Barkley, he will not be sitting out that long.

Last Sunday, Kimberley Jones reported that Saquon Barkley was telling people “he can beat the for recovery from a high-ankle sprain, while the team training staff will make sure he’s cautious enough.”

Saquon Barkley seems to determined to make a comeback sooner than four to eight weeks.

The Giants now consider Saquon to be “week-to-week”

 It now seems like Saquon will be able to beat his timetable like he said. Pat Shurmur was quoted on Monday saying that Saquon Barkley is “week-toweek” now and eager to get back to work.

This is important because the Giants are actually winning. If the team was 0-4, there would be no point in getting Barkley back on the field anytime soon and it would probably be smarter to save him for next season. But the Giants are currently 2-2 and only one game back from first place in the NFC East.

If the Gmen continue their winning ways, they will want to get Saquon back on the field as soon as possible. Barkley is arguably the best running back in the NFL and will instantly elevate the offense once he gets back on the field. If the Giants can keep themselves in the race while Saquon is sidelined, then they will want him to return as soon as he can in order to increase their playoff chances.

Saquon Is Already Ahead Of Schedule

After the Giants’ most recent win against the Washington Redskins, Saquon was pictured leaving the stadium. Those who saw the photos quickly shifted their attention away from Saquon’s fashionable outfit and over to to Saquon’s ankle. 

Fans were surprised to see that Saquon Barkley was not wearing a walking boot. It seemed a little soon for Saquon to already be walking without a boot, but it fits in line with Barkley’s story that he will beat the timetable.

Saquon’s recovery is definitely ahead of schedule. Redskins quarterback Case Keenum was in a walking boot for a similar injury, took off the boot and played in a game two days later. Saquon will not be ready to play this week, but there’s a good chance he will not be sitting out a whole month as the earliest reports suggested.

In fact, the most recent reports indicate that Barkley could be back as soon as next week. During Wednesday’s practice, Saquon Barkley was spotted working on the side already sprinting and cutting. While the Giants have decided not to rul Saquon out this week, he is still highly unlikely to suit up against Minnesota. However, this new puts Saquon way ahead of schedule and in good shape to beat his initial timetable.

New York Giants: Tuzar Skipper Primed for Success

Tuzar Skipper may be a new face to the New York Giants, but already he is melding in.  After playing college football at the University of Toledo, Skipper was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Pittsburgh Steelers.  After being released from the Pittsburgh Steelers in early September 2019, he was claimed off of waivers by the New York Giants just two days later.

During his collegiate career at the University of Toledo, in just three seasons, Skipper recorded 90 total tackles, 9.5 sacks, 2 fumbles recovered and 3 fumbles forced and 1 fumble recovery return touchdown.  This earned him a place on the Third Team Defensive End All Mid-American Conference.

In the preseason with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Skipper had some great games leading the league in a record five sacks.  This garnered him the honor of being awarded a spot on the Pro Football Focus’ All-Rookie team for the preseason.

Skipper is already off to a great start with this up and coming, New York Giants defense.  In three games played, Skipper has had three total tackles and 0.5 sacks.  He shows great potential and can provide the missing link the New York Giants defense just may need with the injury to linebacker Ryan Connelly.

Although a rookie, Skipper has inherent skills and is just patiently waiting for the opportunity to prove himself.  Skipper has a latent talent just waiting to be manifested and is time is most certainly now.

His work ethic is one that sets him apart from the rest.  Skipper is always striving and training to get better, working with the company CarnoSyn.  He works day in and day out to better himself and to be the best he could possibly be.

Skipper may only be a rookie and may just be starting his professional football career, but with his perseverance and hardworking demeanor, he will surely be an asset to the New York Giants defense!

New York Giants: Josiah Tauaefa is Moving on Up

Josiah Tauaefa, New York Giants

With the sad news of hearing New York Giants rookie linebacker who has shown so much potential, Ryan Connelly tore his ACL in the New York Giants game against the Washington Redskins in Week 4 on September 29th.  After getting his second career interception and recording his first career sack against Washington Redskins quarterback Case Keenum, Connelly was ruled out for the game and the rest of the 2019 season.

The New York Giants knew they were lacking at the linebacker position, with the loss of Connelly.  On October 1st, the New York Giants made some roster moves and moved linebacker Josiah Tauaefa up from the practice squad, signing him to the 53 man roster.

Tauaefa, a rookie free agent showed off his skills during the Giant’s preseason games.  He battled each and every game he played as if it was the real season.  Tauaefa went out there and gave it his all, leading the New York Giants with 16 tackles, one sack, and a fumble recovery.  His efforts have earned him a very well-deserved place on the Pro Football Focus’ list of Top 25 Rookies.

Tauaefa also showed off his athleticism and skills while playing college football at the University of Texas at San Antonio, recording a career total of 257 tackles, 11.5 sacks, and one interception.

With stats like these and a demeanor like his, Tauaefa will surely give hope to the New York Giants defense and will continue to shine.  He is ever so thankful, grateful and appreciative of every opportunity he is given and it shows, as he goes out there with such momentum on every play.

Tauaefa has the vigor and wide-range of skills to be everything the New York Giants need and more.  He gives the defense hope!

Rays Advance Over A’s, Nationals Advance Over Brew Crew

New York Yankees, Blake Snell

The Tampa Bay Rays and the Washington Nationals have won their respective Wild Card games and will advance to the Division Series.

AL Wild Card

Hitting four home runs, the Rays beat the Athletics by a score of 5-4 on Wednesday in Oakland. Yandy Diaz hit two solo home runs, including a leadoff home run. The Rays took the lead in the first at-bat of the game and never lost it.

The only non-solo home run of the game came off the bat of Avisail Garcia in the second, a two-run shot. Diaz hit his second homer of the day in the third, and Tommy Pham hit one for insurance in the fifth.

A’s starter Sean Manaea lasted just two innings. Charlie Morton took the win for the Rays, his third win in win or go home games in his postseason career.

The Rays will now take on the Astros in the ALDS, with game one starting at 2:05PM ET on Friday from Houston.

NL Wild Card

The Washington Nationals trailed almost all game, but some late-game heroics off the bat of Juan Soto surpassed the team over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Max Scherzer was by no means his best on Tuesday for the Nationals. He gave up three runs over five innings, and the Brewers were hitting the ball hard off of him all night. Yasmani Grandal hit a two-run home run just seven pitches in, giving the Brewers a quick 2-0 lead.

An inning later, Eric Thames joined in on the fun, making it 3-0.

The Nationals had trouble piecing together offense in the first seven innings, their only bright spot being a solo home run off the bat of Trea Turner. He had finished the regular season with five homers in his last 10 games with a new and improved grip.

In the eighth, Brewers all-star reliever Josh Hader hit a batter, walked a batter, and gave up a hit to load the bases. With two outs, Juan Soto hit a single to right that tied the game, but right fielder Trent Grisham booted the ball, scoring Anthony Rendon as the go-ahead run.

Daniel Hudson came in the ninth and got the save for the Nationals. They now take on the Dodgers on Thursday at 8:37PM ET. Patrick Corbin gets the ball for the Nats against Walker Buehler of the Dodgers.

New York Knicks “trying out” Frank Ntilikina is ridiculous

New York Knicks, Frnak Ntilikina

According to SNY’s Ian Begley, the New York Knicks are using the beginning of training camp as a “tryout” for Frank Ntilikina.  It makes sense in some aspects, but honestly, it is ridiculous.

Ntilikina is coming off a strong showing in the FIBA World Cup for his home country of France.  He showed improvements with his shot, confidence and aggressiveness which were big concerns for the Knicks.  His coach and teammates raved about Ntilikina’s ability and work ethic.

There were even rumblings of him being the future face of France basketball.  The talent is there, but maybe not yet.

France was able to show confidence in Ntilikina throughout the World Cup, something that the Knicks have not done.

Coach David Fizdale said, “That was always tough to juggle and working him back in, getting his confidence back and stuff like that” after missing 40 games last season due to injury.   “I’m really happy with the way he came in. He had a great summer and today he had a real competitive practice”, Fizdale said.

But, Ntilikina is now 100% healthy and playing off the high he received in the World Cup.  He was given the opportunity to grow into a better basketball player and he did just that.  However, the Knicks coaching staff are speculating if his play will translate to the NBA.

Ntilikina was playing against NBA competition, for the most part.  He took a big leap forward with hitting gigantic shots to seal the game against the USA.  The raw emotion Ntilikina expressed afterwards could suggest his hard work is paying off.

The Knicks need to give Ntilikina the same opportunity that France did.  Ntilikina only averaged 19.5 minutes per game and he made them all count.  But, the Knicks saying they are “trying out” Ntilikina is saying that they do not have the same confidence in him as France did.

The Knicks should have looked into how France got the most out of Ntilikina and build off that, apparently Fizdale has.  Ntilikina was a lottery pick, 8th overall, in 2017 and at times it seems like they give up on Ntilikina.  A team should not give up on a lottery pick  so easily like it seems the Knicks do.

It also goes to show the lack of confidence the Knicks have in Ntilikina by not picking up his fourth-year option yet.  They have until October 31st to do so or he becomes an unrestricted free-agent.

The Knicks are still going to evaluate Ntilikina.  He continues to grow as a basketball and shown signs of improvement, he is only 21-years-old after all.  Seeing his performance in the World Cup should have been enough to pick-up his option.

Yes, the NBA is much different as compared to the FIBA World Cup.  But, Ntilikina has shown that if given the confidence and ability to work through his mistakes, he can be a vital piece to a successive team.

Yesterday, Fizdale finally talked about Ntilikina, expressing a positive outlook in him heading into the season.  Ntilikina himself noticed how much confidence he gained from the World Cup.  Now, build on that Fizdale.

New York Yankees: Who is in the Bubble to make the Postseason Roster?

New York Yankees, Luke Voit

The front office and Aaron Boone, the manager for the New York Yankees, have tough decisions to make concerning their postseason roster. The “next man up” mentality helped them all season, but this is the time it could hurt the franchise as a whole.

The Yankees showed they are a top tier team in the league this season and completed their rebuild. Their year statistics are as follows: 103 wins, 306 home runs, and 943 runs (MLB.com). Those 103 wins were the third-most in the MLB, the 306 home runs helped crush their record set last season, and those 943 runs led the MLB (MLB.com). This team had a year for the record books and it seems like they will only get better in the next few years.

Who Contributed the Most this Season?

The New York Yankees are enduring a “good” problem on selecting the twenty-five players that give them the best chance to take home the crown. As mentioned in a previous article, there was a locked starting line-up that looked like one of the best playoff teams ever assembled, hitting wise. However, things have changed since then. The Yankees will most likely need four bench players, limiting them to twelve pitchers.

The big question mark is Luke Voit. He is one for his last thirty-five at-bats and has gone cold at the wrong time. Mike Ford was a key player in the Yankees’ success in the final two months of the season. He is more deserving of a roster spot than the guy that was a nice surprise for the team last season.

Gio Urshela makes the team better with his energetic and prolific defense at third base. If he were to start, that would slide D.J. Lemahieu to first base, with Didi Gregorius at short, and Gleyber Torres at second. Tyler Wade can come off the bench to play middle infield, as well as the outfield, taking up one of the bench spots. Ford is a lefty bat off the bench, he could be the pinch hitter that can come in to give the end of the lineup a boost. Romine will make it by default, being the backup catcher. Maybin can be a boost with his consistent bat, speed, and defense. This team will rely on wins in the Bronx, which helped them succeed in the years past.

New York Giants: Why Sunday is the Biggest Game Since 2016

The New York Giants head into week five with a winning percentage of .500 for the first time since 2016.  They have won two straight games for the first time in three seasons. They finally have some momentum. Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings will test if that momentum can carry them for the rest of the season, or if it’s just a mirage. Rookie starting QB Daniel Jones is 2-0 to start his career, but neither of those wins came against elite teams. The Vikings present a challenge to both Jones and the rest of Big Blue. Winning this game would prove that they’re for real and that the playoffs are realistic this season. It would also give a major confidence boost to the locker room before they play New England next week.

Why Sunday’s game against Minnesota is the biggest game since 2016:

The first strong opponent in the Daniel Jones era

Rookie QB Daniel Jones has played exceptionally thus far. Through two games, he has a 69.0% completion percentage, has thrown for 578 yards, and has accounted for five touchdowns. All of those numbers have come against rather mediocre opponents though. His first start was against Tampa Bay, a team that sports the same record as the Giants. His second start came against a Washington team that is yet to win a game this season.

Minnesota will be Jones’ first major challenge. The Vikings boast the sixth-best defense in the NFL, allowing just 312.8 total yards per game. That is significantly better than his first two opponents, who both give up more than 377 yards per game. If Jones can put up impressive numbers against a stout Minnesota defense, it will be clear that he is the real deal.

An opportunity to prove the Giants are for real

As mentioned above, the Giants’ two wins have come against underwhelming teams. Beating a playoff-contending Vikings team would put the Giants on the map. They have the opportunity to be a game above .500 for the first time since that same 2016 season. A win on Sunday would be a major step towards playing in January.

A win would build confidence for New England

The Giants have a short week next week, as they travel to New England for a Thursday night clash with the Patriots. Assuming the defending champs beat the winless Redskins this week, it would be another David v Goliath clash. The Patriots would be riding high at 5-0 while the Giants would continue to prove the doubters wrong.

Beating a near-elite team in Minnesota would do wondrous things for Big Blue. Heading into New England with a 3-2 record, a big home win under their belt, and a locker room full of confidence sounds like a great recipe for success. A tough loss on Sunday could easily derail the team.

It is vital that the Giants pull out a win on Sunday if they wish to keep their season alive. There hasn’t been a bigger game for three seasons. While it may only be week five, a loss could send the team spiraling towards another year of disappointment.

New York Giants: What does Josiah Tauaefa offer the defense in place of Ryan Connelly?

Josiah Tauaefa, New York Giants

The New York Giants defense took a significant hit with the loss of Ryan Connelly due to a torn ACL in his right knee. Replacing him will be incredibly tricky and realistically impossible, but as they say, “next man up!”

That fortune next man is Josiah Tauaefa, an undrafted player out of the University of Texas at San Antonio. While the school isn’t well known and doesn’t produce many starting-caliber players in the NFL, Tauaefa has the tenacity and heart to carve out a role. It’s never ideal to have to replace an injured starter, but it gives an opportunity to a player that could rise to the occasion.

The question is: What are the New York Giants getting in Josiah Tauaefa?

Let’s first take a look at some film to see what he’s capable of.

One thing to note about Tauaefa is that he’s a capable blitzer and can evade blocks with his shiftiness. The linebacker isn’t the strongest player, but his speed and relentlessness to get to the ball compensate to a degree. On this play, he shoots the A-Gap, swimming the running back and gets into the backfield in a jiffy. This attests to his speed, something all good linebackers have. My primary concern will ultimately come down to his efficiency in the run game, as his lack of size could show up in that facet.

Tauaefa has solid vision, as you can see in this clip. He identifies the play at the line of scrimmage and reacts well to an option play from the quarterback. That’s the instinctual reaction timing a good linebacker should have. Ultimately, Tauaefa has the attributes to be a solid contributor, but there’s a reason he was on the practice squad. In an ideal world, the Giants will not have to utilize his services, and if they do, they should be prepared to give up some big runs against better running backs.

Aside from Tauaefa, Big Blue has Alec Ogletree, Tae Davis, and David Mayo on the roster to supplement the loss of Connelly. None of the three players mentioned have the instinctual skills Connelly does, and that will hurt the efficiency of the defense. In fact, after Ogletree went down with a pulled hamstring, the defense went on to play six quarters without allowing a touchdown.