#StayAtHome; The New York Jets’ 10 best moments at MetLife Stadium (so far)

Good things happen when you stay at home. Just ask the New York Jets, who are set to open their second decade at MetLife Stadium this fall.

Our (temporary) new reality has denied us the glory and love of sports. The concept has, rightfully, taken a backseat as we look out for each other and work towards a new common good of overcoming the grim isolation that the coronavirus has brought upon us.

Of course, there is a light at the end of our proverbial tunnel. We, as a nation, have overcome disasters of epic proportions before. With teamwork and unity, there’s little doubt we can do it again.

The fact of the matter is, it’s best for all of us if we stay at home at this point. The sooner we adhere to the guidelines posted by medical experts (which include staying indoors and social distancing, save for necessities like grocery shopping and attending to loved ones), the sooner we’ll be back to enjoying the sports and events we love, living and dying with our teams.

Good things happen when you stay at home. Just ask the New York Jets, who are about to enter their second decade within the friendly confines of MetLife Stadium. As encouragement, ESM takes a look at the ten best Jets moments to go down at the stadium so far…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMOJWtbC2BE

9/19/10: Give ’em Kell

Victories over the mighty New England Patriots have been relatively rare in the decade of MetLife. Tom Brady and Company did at least receive a rude welcome as victims of the first Jets victory at the stadium.

The Jets dropped their Monday night Metlife debut to Baltimore, but went on to shock the Patriots to the tune of a 28-14 triumph less than a week later. Tight end Dustin Keller took center stage with a career-best 115 yards in victory. 2008’s first-round selection also caught the last of Mark Sanchez’s three touchdown passes to help put the game away (Braylon Edwards and Jericho Cotchery caught the others). Defensively, Antonio Cromartie and Brodney Pool each victimized Brady for an interception. Jason Taylor put the tastiest cherry on top by ending New England’s final possession with a sack and forced fumble, recovered by Bryan Thomas.

10/11/10: Viking Conquest

The Jets’ kooky Brett Favre summited at an 8-3 ledger in November that had some Jets fans thinking Super Bowl. But a 1-4 finale had the Jets searching elsewhere for a quarterback (leading to the drafting of Mark Sanchez) and Favre destined for his umpteenth retirement. By late August, the Vikings made an offer he couldn’t refuse and he wound up taking them to the NFC title game.

When Favre returned to East Rutherford two seasons later, the Jets thanked the gunslinger for his services by having their defense constantly wrap Favre up in hugs…those under pressure, that is. Favre was sacked four times, but, true to form, managed to keep Minnesota in the game with three touchdown passes. One of those scores was of the 37-yard variety to Randy Moss, partaking in his first game in a Viking uniform since 2004.

MetLife braced for the worst when Minnesota forced a Jets punt immediately after the final two-minute warning and the home team struggling to hold a 22-20 lead. One year after Favre led the league in interceptions with the Jets, he threw one more in New Jersey. This one, however, brought Jets fans to their feet in the form of an interception returned for a touchdown by Dwight Lowery. The first touchdown of Lowery’s career put the game out of reach in the form of a 29-20 final.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erB1akQcrFg

11/21/10: Everything’s Bigger Against the Texans

The 2010 New York Jets were an exercise in waiting for the other shoe to drop. Everyone in football thought their 2009-10 trip to the AFC title game was a fluke, but they got rid of those notions with a 9-2 start to the season.

The penultimate win of that slate was a thrilling last-minute win over the Houston Texans, mere days before they demolished the Cincinnati Bengals in a Thanksgiving tilt. New York dealt with a challenge from the pesky Texans, who turned a 23-7 Jets lead into a 27-23 advantage, one they held with 55 seconds to go in the game. The detractors were certain that this would be the end of the Jets, the final blow to yet another magical season. But Sanchez worked some late-game magic, one that sent East Rutherford into hysterics. Things seemed dire with the Jets situated 48 yards away from the end zone with 24 seconds to go, but a 42-yard catch-and-run for Edwards allowed Sanchez to put the finishing touches on the victory.

In almost a reverse angle of his Super Bowl-winning catch for the Steelers, Santonio Holmes caught a six-yard Sanchez toss in the corner of the end zone with 16 seconds remaining to allow the Jets a 30-27 escape.

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

9/11/11: Showdown at the MetLife Corral

The 2011 NFL season’s first Sunday landed on the most solemn of occasions: the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001’s tragic events. After a day full of patriotic displays and tributes to the lives lost, the proceedings wrapped up at MetLife Stadium…just over 11 miles from where the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers once stood. Moments of remembrance, attended to by former United States President George W. Bush and many first responders, were followed by a highly anticipated tilt between the Jets and the Dallas Cowboys.

Dallas led 24-10 at the onset of the fourth quarter, but the Jets soon began an unforgettable rally. Plaxico Burress got things started with a 26-yard touchdown catch from Mark Sanchez. The teams would then exchange fumbles before Isaiah Trufan took a punt blocked by Joe McKnight back for a touchdown. Dallas’ would-be game-winning was stifled by none other than Darelle Revis, who intercepted a Tony Romo pass intended for Dez Bryant and took it into opposing territory. Former Cowboy Nick Folk dealt the final blow to his former mates, booting a 50-yard field in the final minute to secure the 27-24 win.

11/27/11: J-E-T-S Spells Revenge

The Jets’ divisional rivalry with the Buffalo Bills hasn’t gotten drastically ugly in the new century, but an exception was made in their post-Thanksgiving showdown in East Rutherford.

With Burress still on the 2011 edition, Bills receiver Stevie Johnson celebrated a first-half touchdown by pretending to be shot, referencing the receivers nightclub incident in 2008. The dated, classless jab immediately backfired on Johnson when the Bills flubbed a surprise onside kick and immediately let up a 14-yard score to Burress himself.

Burress had actually saved his best for last. With the Bills up 24-21, Burress’ one-handed catch on a third down with 11 to go kept the Jets’ victorious final drive alive. Two plays after the catch, Holmes caught a pass on a Sanchez rollout to give the Jets a 28-24 win.

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

12/6/15: JetLife Stadium

The saga of the 2015 Jets is a lot like watching Avengers: Infinity War: it was incredibly fun to watch, there are countless moments that make you stand up and cheer…it’s rewatch value, on the other hand, is completely ruined by its harrowing ending. If the Jets’ season-ending, playoff-costing loss to the Buffalo Bills served as Thanos’ infamous snap, their win over MetLife roommates was the closest thing they’ll get to an equivalent of Thor arriving with a new weapon via the Bifrost in Wakanda.

East Rutherford civil wars are routine in the preseason but are staged only once every four years. The 2015 edition featured both the Jets and New York Giants in the thick of their respective playoff races. New Jersey was set to be a blue state after the Giants put up 20 points in the second quarter. That haul seemed to be sustainable, so much so that the first interception of Rontez Miles’ career seemed with eight minutes left in regulation seemed like little reason to celebrate. The fact that the ensuing drive ended with a short Randy Bullock field goal wasn’t exactly inspiring either.

But optimism squeaked through after the Jets forced a punt down 20-13 in the final minutes. With just over a minute to go, Ryan Fitzpatrick channeled his inner Randall Cunningham, earning nine more yards than he needed to on a fateful fourth down with six to go. Two plays later, Fitzpatrick would send the game to overtime with a nine-yard scoring pass to Brandon Marshall.

In the extra session, Bullock booted a 31-yard field to give the Jets the lead. The defense then forced Josh Brown and the Giants into a deep 48-yard attempt, one that sailed wide left and gave the Jets the narrow win.

12/27/15: Boston OT Party

Knowing the terrors that awaited one week later in Buffalo, the penultimate game of the 2015-16 regular season may be the most bittersweet moment any team in NFL history has experienced. But, for one week, the turf of MetLife provided pure pigskin euphoria.

The Christmas season was no holiday for the Jets. They had exceeded expectations with a respectable record, but needed to top the Patriots in their home finale to keep a postseason dream alive. Their 9-5 ledger put them in a three-way tie for the AFC wild cards, but tiebreakers allotted the spots to Kansas City and Pittsburgh. New England had, predictably, wrapped the AFC East title, but was still battling Denver and Cincinnati for the AFC’s top playoff seed.

A pair of Ryan Fitzpatrick scoring hookups with Brandon Marshall built a 17-3 lead for the Jets. Typical Jets-Patriots antics of the new century ensued thereafter. New England narrowed things to one possession when Jamie Collins took a Fitzpatrick fumble back for a touchdown while the Jets only mustered a Bullock field goal to add to their lead. Brady made them pay with a nine-yard touchdown pass to James White that helped tie the score. The Jets nearly won in regulation, but a Fitzpatrick deep ball in the final minute sailed out of the reach of Quincy Enunwa.

New England opted for overtime after a Ryan Quigley punt. It was a rare decision that Bill Belichick would come to regret.

Winners of the overtime coin toss, the Jets wasted no time in the new life afforded to them. Fitzpatrick needed just five plays to go 80 yards for the victory. 48 of that tally came on a successful deep ball to Enunwa, while the final six were on Fitzpatrick’s game-winning toss to Eric Decker for the 26-20 victory. With that throw, Fitzpatrick tied Vinny Testaverde’s 1998 record for most touchdown passes in a single Jets season. Pittsburgh’s ensuing loss to Baltimore put the Jets in control of their playoff destiny moving forward

Nothing more needs to be written about the Jets’ eventual 22-17 loss to the Bills the week after. However, the memorable win at MetLife offered the Jets a quantum of solace weeks later. Thanks to their loss in East Rutherford, the Patriots lost control of the AFC’s top seed. That forced them to go to Mile High for the AFC title game, which the Broncos won in Denver en route to their Super Bowl 50 title.

10/1/17: A Special Victory

To say expectations were low for the 2017 New York Jets would be the understatement of the decade. The prognosticators that be at USA Today in fact pegged them for only a single win in their annual NFL preview.

The Jets immediately eclipsed that total in Week 4 against the Jacksonville Jaguars a team that would up reaching the AFC title game. 2017’s New York City Marathon was over a month away, but the Jets got things off to an early start with long scoring runs from Bilal Powell (75 yards) and Elijah McGuire (69 yards) to build a 20-10 lead. Jacksonville, however, reinserted themselves into the game with a 10-point fourth quarter rally. Myles Jack took a fumble back 81 yards for a score,  and future Jets Pro Bowler Jason Myers kicked a field goal in the final minute to send things into overtime.

It was an extra session that, frankly, could’ve been avoided. In the dying stages of the first half, Lac Edwards set the Jets up in prime position for a bigger on a 31-yard pass via fake punt to Marcus Williams. However, Chandler Catanzaro missed a 45-yard field goal.

Redemption took a while to manifest, but it eventually came in the final stanzas of overtime. A tie seemed to be in the cards, but a Jeremy Kerley punt return earned 15 extra yards after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty from Paul Posluszny. Catanzaro then came on for a 41-yard field goal he successfully converted for the 23-20 win.

10/7/18: Run With the Horses

Two Jets records, one unconventional, were set in their 34-16 win over Denver.

The Jets have several renowned rushers pass through their ledgers. But it’s not Curtis Martin, Freeman McNeil, Thomas Jones, or Emerson Boozer who hold the single-game rushing record. That honor instead goes to Isaiah Crowell, he of only 13 games in green. Crowell torched the Broncos for 219 yards, a majority of it coming on a 77-yard score that made up the Jets’ first points on the afternoon. Perhaps more shockingly, Crowell needed only 15 carries to do it. Sam Darnold completed only 10 passes, but three of them ended in touchdowns (two to Robby Anderson). That was enough to secure his first MetLife Stadium win.

With the outcome well in hand, Denver tried to make things respectable. On the final play, Case Keenum’s would-be touchdown pass to Courtland Sutton was intercepted by Marcus Maye. The safety ran it back 104 yards but he was stopped just short by Sutton, the one man to run longer than him. It was good for the longest return in Jets history, and the longest return in NFL history that didn’t end in a touchdown.

11/10/19: Back to the Future

The likenesses and jerseys of Darnold, Daniel Jones, Jamal Adams, and Saquon Barkley are expected to adorn the respective entrances and patrons of MetLife Stadium for years to come. Fans of both metropolitan sides got a glimpse of what this group of football stardom had to offer when they met last fall.

Darnold spotted the Jets an early 14-point lead through both the air and the ground, rushing for a two-yard score before finding Jamison Crowder for a 23-yard strike. While the Jets were able to hold Barkley to a single yard on 13 carries, but Jones showed what he could do in the form of four touchdown tosses. Even when Adams pried the ball away from him for a score, those passes allowed the Giants to take a slim lead into the fourth quarter.

But after a Giants three-and-out late in the third (capped off by a Nathan Shepard sack), the Jets took the lead for good on a one-yard run by Le’Veon Bell early in the fourth. Defenses mostly reigned from there on out, with the Jets earning a Sam Ficken field to provide insurance in what became a 34-27 win.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

One Thing That Could Rule Out Jadeveon Clowney For New York Giants

New York Jets, Jadeveon Clowney

The New York Giants have been mentioned by analysts as a landing spot for Jadeveon Clowney, but so far, there’s many reasons why the deal doesn’t work as well as some might think. The primary reason is cost – Clowney is asking for more than any team right now is willing to pay, and the Giants are one of the ones that have passed on signing Clowney for that reason. However, there’s also other reasons at play making teams reluctant to make a move for Clowney.

One of those reasons is Clowney’s health, which hasn’t been perfect throughout his career to this point, and has been one of the factors holding his career back. According to SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano, the Giants are one of the teams that have considered Clowney but are reluctant because of his injury history. This has also supposedly impacted Clowney’s chances with the Jets.

Many teams — the Giants included, per sources — are very wary of making a big-money commitment to a player with that kind of injury history. Presumably that has factored into the Jets’ thinking as well.

The Giants would indeed have to commit big money to Clowney if they wanted to bring him in to replace top pass rusher Markus Golden, who the team is unlikely to come to an agreement with if recent reports are accurate. That commitment would come to the tune of at least 17 million, which would make Clowney one of the highest paid players on the team.

To make the situation worse for a potential deal, any agreement is likely to be a short term one that would see the Giants effectively rent Clowney for a short time – rather than signing a long term deal, Clowney is likely to seek a one year contract and look for a bigger deal after the salary cap increases.

All of these red flags combined with the fact that the Giants don’t need rental players at this stage in their rebuilding process means that whatever chance there was of Clowney becoming a Giant is likely gone by now – and it may be for the better.

The Giants do need help in their pass rush, and it’s unclear if Kyler Fackrell is the answer. However, one thing that the team doesn’t need is an under-producing and overpaid player who may end up leaving the next season rather than staying around for the rebuilding process. All of those things, unfortunately, are things that describe Clowney.

New York Yankees Legends: Mel Stottlemyre and the dynasty years, read

The great Yankee pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre

Mel Stottlemyre is both a famous New York Yankee pitcher and long time pitching coach. Mel was born Melvin Leon Stottlemyre in Mabton, Washington, in 1941. He pitched for the Yankees for eleven years and coached for a historic record of 23 years for his Yankees.  As a pitcher, Mel started playing for his local American Legion post and went on to pitch in high school and at his college Yakima Valley.

Yankee scouts discovered him at Yakima and signed him to a contract in 1961. He was assigned to the minor league Harland Smokies. Shortly after a stint with the Auburn Yankees, he was promoted to the Greensboro Yankees, where he had a 17-9 record with an ERA of 2.50. In 1963 he was used as a starter and reliever, but Houk, the then Yankees manager, seeing his worth as a starter, demanded that he be used only as a starter.

In 1964 Mel was called up to the big team where he went 9-3 in a successful effort to get the Yankees to their fifth pennant in a row. In the World Series, he went 1-0-1. In 1965 he was made an All-Star but did not pitch in the game. He did win 20 games that year, 18 of them complete games, something that is unheard of today.

Stottlemyre got 20 wins in both 1968 and 1969. He started the 1969 All-Star game. Stottlemyre threw 40 shutouts in his 11-season career, the same number as Hall of Fame lefty Sany Koufax, which ties for 44th best all-time. Eighteen of those shutouts came in a three-season span from 1971–73. Mel was known as a pretty good hitter, too; in fact, he had a grand slam in 1965. The Yankees released Stottlemyre before the 1975 season. Stottlemyre retired with 164 career wins and a 2.97 ERA.

Mel becomes the New York Yankees pitching coach

After a year off, Mel started his coaching career, first with the Mariners, then the Mets, followed by a coaching stint with the Houston Astros. When Joe Torre was named Yankees Manager in 1996, Mel joined his coaching staff as the New York Yankees pitching coach. In his first year, he brought the team ERA down from 4.65 to 3.81. Mel’s pitching staff was regarded as a major factor in the team’s dynasty years when they won four World Series Championships in five years. After 10 seasons, Stottlemyre resigned from his coaching position on October 12, 2005.

During the New York Yankees dynasty years of 1996-2005, Mel Stottlemyre was a key to the Yankees’ success.  He mentored Andy Pettitte, David Cone, Dwight Gooden,  Orlando Hernandez, Roger Clemmens, and David Welles, and others.  He especially worked with a young set-up man, Mariano Rivera who become a Hall of Fame closer.  Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera were the pitching members of the famous “Core 4,” which also included Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada.  Many believe Bernie Williams should have been recognized in that group.

Mel became pitching coach for the Mariners in 2008, but when the Manager was fired, he was fired along with him. Mel retired from baseball following that season.

He was inducted into the Washington State American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012. At Old-Timers’ Day on June 20, 2015, the Yankees dedicated a plaque in Monument Park in Stottlemyre’s honor. Mel was diagnosed with cancer in 2000 but went into remission for eleven years. Mel Passed away January 13, 2019, after a long battle with bone marrow cancer, but not before he published “Pride in Pinstripes” in 2007.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research

Reliving the Magical Final Week of the Islanders’ 2006-07 Season

In the post-dynasty era of the New York Islanders, there was only a handful of memorable moments for the franchise.

There was the Easter Epic in 1987. The Magical run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 1993. Shawn Bates’s penalty shot goal in the first round of the 2002 playoffs that shook the Coliseum to its core.

Then there was the last week of the ’06-07 season.

It was a culmination of a year-long battle for the organization.

Heading into that year, the Isles had missed the playoffs the season prior. That summer, former owner, the late Charles Wang, had hired Neil Smith to be the general manager and team legend Pat LaFontaine as a senior advisor. Smith’s tenure lasted just 41 days, as did LaFontaine’s. That episode brought upon a new sense of ridicule and embarrassment to the organization from hockey pundits. Wang then tabbed former goalie Garth Snow, who had been with the organization for several years and just recently retired, as Smith’s replacement.

Smith had already done a solid job re-tooling the Isles — signing veteran free agents Brendan Witt, Tom Poti, Mike Sillinger, and Chris Simon — before Snow added to the group with Richard Park, Andy Hilbert, Sean Hill, and Viktor Kozlov. The Islanders emerged a veteran-laided squad for head coach Ted Nolan when training camp arrived.

On to the season, where the Islanders got off to a rough start with a losing streak to begin the year. By December, they had found their footing enough to grab first place in the Atlantic Division. After claiming that spot, Snow got greedy.

He made two deals with the rival Flyers, acquiring d-man Freddy Meyer for forward Alexei Zhitnik, and forward Randy Robitaille for Mike York.

“That year was obviously one of my favorite,” Meyer told me in an interview I did with him over a year ago. “We had a lot of really good guys on that team. Not just playing wise, but also the veterans that made sure to stir the pot and get us going in the right direction.”

The short-term effect of both trades didn’t help the Isles, who went on another long losing streak at the end of December. After they found their footing again, the Islanders competed as a fringe playoff team.

Snow, again, made more deals.

Just prior to the trade deadline, he dealt Grebeshkov to the Oilers for hard-shooting blueliner Marc-Andre Bergeron. Then on deadline day, with the Isles sitting pretty in the sixth slot in the East, he traded for “Captain Canada”, Ryan Smyth.

Everything seemed to be set in place for the Islanders to make noise down the stretch. But, two incidents — Chris Simon’s controversial swinging of his stick at the Rangers’ Ryan Hollweg and star goalie Rick DiPietro getting concussed multiple times, most notably for being run over trying to play a loose puck in Montreal — predated that miraculous final week. To make things worse, backup goalie Mike Dunham was poor in relief of DiPietro and the Isles had lost three in a row, putting their season on life support.

Then an unknown third-string goalie by the name of Wade Dubielewicz came out of nowhere. Dubielewicz, 27, had been called up to replace Dunham back on March 15th but didn’t make an appearance until the Islanders’ 5-2 defeat to Ottawa in the fifth to last game of the year.

With four games left, the Isles found themselves four points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. It would be an arduous test if they wanted any shot at the postseason, as they would have to go through the hated Rangers, the on the fringe Maple Leafs, the lowly Flyers, and the already playoff-bound Devils.

April 3, 2007, the Islanders and Blueshirts squared off.

In a playoff-style affair, the Isles played well enough to get the game to a shootout. But they needed the second point desperately to keep pace with the Canadiens who won 2-0 that night over Boston. The shootout saw the beloved Miroslav Satan strike first for the Islanders. Dubielewicz then made a poke check on the Blueshirts’ Michael Nylander which would become his calling card not only that week but in Islanders lore. The legendary Jaromir Jagr was the Rangers’ last hope to extend the shootout.

Again, Dubielewicz went back to the well.

The Isles won the shootout and the game 3-2 and kept their playoff hopes alive.

Two nights later on April 5th against Toronto — who were three points ahead of the Isles and one point out of the eight spot — the Islanders were again in a dogfight. It was early in the third though where those wavering playoff hopes began to grow stronger.

Jason Blake would put the Isles ahead for good after breaking a 2-2 tie with his 40th goal of the season early in the frame. Aaron Asham and Satan added insurance goals and the Isles won 5-2, giving them points 87 and 88.

Now with a back-to-back weekend to end the regular season, two points separated the Isles and eighth place.

On Saturday, April 7th, the Isles went into Philadelphia for an afternoon matinee. They took nothing for chance with the Flyers, establishing a 3-0 lead midway through the second on goals by Satan, Alexei Yashin and Richard Park. Things got a little hairy with Philly making it 3-2 with a minute left in the game. But Satan, who was an unsung hero all season, hit the empty net to give the Islanders a decisive 4-2 victory.

Later that night, the Isles needed the Leafs to lose to Montreal to have any shot at making Sunday’s game in New Jersey meaningful.

“We actually had a team meal in New Jersey the night before that Sunday game to watch the Toronto-Montreal game,” Asham said for a piece I did with him last year. “We needed Toronto to lose. Watching that back and forth game, we found out that night that the next day was going to be do or die for us.”

Toronto would go on to win a wild affair 6-5 in what was their 82nd game of the season. At the end of the night, the standings read Toronto 91, Montreal 90, Islanders 90.

The Islanders’ destiny was in their own hands: Win and they’re in.

My family — mom, dad, older brother — made the trip for that Easter Sunday matinee in East Rutherford. My Dad had decided the day before, once they won in Philadelphia the day before, we had to be there.

And true to Howie Rose’s famous line after Richard Park scored the game’s first goal past Scott Clemmensen, “It’s Long Island south here in East Rutherford”, it truly was an Islander-heavy crowd.

Park would score again just before the eight-minute mark of the third period to make it 2-0 and the Islander contingent began to get louder and louder.

As the minutes waned down in the third, the entire building — and the Islanders bench — was a ball nervous energy.

The Devils would make it a one-goal game after John Madden scored with just under six minutes remaining in regulation. The score now 2-1, the Isles playoff aspirations came down to a frantic five minutes.

As the final seconds ticked down, the Devils were pressuring Dubielewicz and the Islanders furiously. With under a second remaining, Madden tucked home a rebound after Dubielewicz fell down and couldn’t get up.

Both the green light and red light both flashed.

The goal counted, and shock just rattled through Islanders country.

Well, it was on to overtime to decide the Isles’ season. The extra session was full of chances but no goals, meaning a shootout would decide the game.

Both teams scored in round one. Viktor Kozlov went for the Isles to start round two. He went five-hole on Clemmensen giving his team the lead in the shootout. That left Sergei Brylin against Dubielewicz.

Brylin came in on Dubielewicz, who once again went to his patented poke check.

The Islanders won the game and were in the playoffs in about as dramatic a fashion possible.

“For that next game to go to a shootout, and for Dubie (Wade Dubielwicz) to stand on his head, it was quite the experience,” Asham said.

“Individually, that was my first real taste of playoff hockey,” former Islander Jeff Tambellini noted in an interview I did with him. “I remembered before the season The Hockey News not having us in the playoffs and everybody in the room took it personally. Getting hot toward the end, and being able to jump in on those last couple of games, was awesome.

“That last game in New Jersey was the biggest game of my career to that point.”

That entire week still lives on 13 years later in the hearts of Islanders fans as one of the great moments in a decade that didn’t have many. Sadly it ended up also becoming the last competitive-wise for the organization and fans would see for another six years.

People will always remember those four games though.

The angst, chest-beating moments, and unfathomable finish. That was the last week of the 2006-2007 Islanders.

 

Do the New York Giants have a lowkey stud in Kyler Fackrell?

New York Giants, Kyler Fackrell

When the New York Giants invested $4.6 million in free-agent defender Kyler Fackrell, most were confused by the only pass rush move GM Dave Gettleman has made this offseason.

Fackrell is a determined player that has shown quality in the past, specifically in 2018, when he logged 10.5 sacks and 12 quarterback hits. Luckily, Patrick Graham was Green Bay’s linebackers coach when Fackrell has his best professional season to date, which is motivating considering Graham is now the Giants’ defensive coordinator.

The most concerning part of the offseason is that Fackrell has been the only allocation toward the pass rush unit, implying that the coaching staff is confident in young guns like Oshane Ximines and Lorenzo Carter.

Can the New York Giants bring the most out of Kyler Fackrell?

The former Packer followed up his stellar 2018 campaign with a one-sack performance last season, primarily due to being replaced by Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith. Fackrell has the talent and skill-set to feature as a starter in the NFL, but he also needs to right coaching, which is where Graham comes into play.

“I believe I am better than a one-sack guy,’’ Fackrell said Thursday on a conference call. “That’s really what I am going to try and prove.’’

“I have the utmost confidence in myself,’’ Fackrell said. “I think that I’m a very versatile 3-4 [strong side] outside linebacker. I love to rush and I think I’m good at it, and I take a lot of pride in dropping and making plays in space as well. I think in the kind of core defense we played in Green Bay, and I think Patrick Graham runs kind of a similar style of defense, having a versatile outside linebacker like that is very valuable. As far as, yeah, I know that I didn’t produce the way I wanted to last year, but I think I have a great opportunity to do that this year.’’

Kyler is a smart player on defense, reading the quarterback’s eyes for screen passes or short dump-offs. He also has a good motor with power. He’s quick around the edge and uses a solid bull-rush to compensate for his minimal arsenal of pass rush moves — he likes to use his hands to swipe away outstretched offensive tackles but predominantly resorts to speed to force quarterbacks to step up into the pocket.

Interestingly, the outside linebacker has even dropped into coverage at times closer to the goal-line. On 10 targets in 2018, he allowed only a 40% completion rate. Nothing to be excited about, but he can be used diversely.

Overall, I like Fackrell as a player, and with the Giants building out their interior defensive line to act as de-facto pass rush in a sense, they want the former Packer to use his speed around the edge to force QBs to step up into the pocket. This will allow the front three big-men to collapse the pocket and swallow quarterback’s up to increase pressure-rate.

New York Yankees’ Gerrit Cole and wife, Amy, donate to Coronavirus relief fund

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

The New York Yankees and the rest of society have been holed up in their respective homes, but that doesn’t mean making a difference is impossible.

Newly signed starting pitcher, Gerrit Cole, and his wife, Amy, donated a significant amount of money toward the coronavirus relief fund. After signing a $324 million contract over nine-years, Cole and Amy can undoubtedly afford to donate a bit of cash, and that doesn’t take away from the incredibly generous act from the pair.

“Being within arms-length of this with everybody in the tri-state area so heavily affected we wanted to jump in and help as much as we could,” Cole told the Post. “It will be rolling along in the next couple of days as far as contributing to New York. As the crisis evolves, we kind of evolve. I trust the people who are in charge of these foundations to get what we are giving them exactly where it is needed the most.”

The donation will take place through their new charity, called “The Gerrit and Amy Cole Foundation.”

Cole has been a Yankees fan his entire life, growing up in Southern California. His connection with the Bronx Bombers is well documented, stretching from his appearance at the 2001 World Series in Pheonix as a kid to holding up the very same sign at his introductory press conference with the Yankees several months ago.

“It seems like whenever there is a national crisis New Yorkers rise to the challenge,’’ Cole explained. “New Yorkers lead our nation because they are tough and resilient. It’s part of the reason why Amy and I wanted to be part of New York. It has touched every part of the country but being here at the epicenter there is a different sense of urgency.’’

An astounding act of kindness by the Cole’s, marking their significance in New York in just a short time.

New York Yankees Prospects: Everson Pereira

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

One of the most dynamic prospects in the New York Yankees farm system is stud outfielder, Everson Pereira. Pereira was signed by the Yankees in 2017 and the Yankees gave him a $1.5 million signing bonus. Pereira has a lot of tools that make the front office very excited when watching him play. Pereira has shown great maturity for his age and seems more seasoned as a baseball player than the normal 18-year-old prospect. Pereira comes in ranked as the 13th best prospect in the Yankees system but has a lot of room to grow into being one of the best prospects in the system. Pereira possesses one of the best pure swings in the system. Do not be fooled by his numbers this early in his career.

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Advanced for his age

Back in 2018, Pereira really showed the New York Yankees a lot when they had him in rookie ball. In 41 games, Pereira hit .263 and drove in 26 runs. Pereira opened a lot of eyes considering he was just 17 years old. The Yankees moved him up to A- for the 2019 season and he did struggle a little. In 18 games, Pereira only hit .171 and struck out 26 times. In looking at the tape, a lot of the mistakes that Pereira was making at the plate seem to be coming from a lack of experience. While he has advanced skills, he can appear to be anxious at times and chases a lot of bad pitches. As he continues to get more experience, I believe that his eye will get better and those strikeout numbers will go down. Pereira has tremendous speed but hasn’t shown it as much as he should. He’s only stolen six bases in 59 minor league games. Pereira’s speed is one of the things that can take him to the next level, so I would like to see him become more aggressive on the bases.

Where to go from here?

Pereira is a really solid prospect for the Yankees. He is very good in the outfield, he has really good speed, and he does show promise with his approach at the plate. I think in a couple of years, Pereira has the potential to turn into a really solid MLB contributor for the Yankees. Whenever the season gets underway, I want to see Pereira cut down on the number of times he’s swinging at bad pitches. A lot of his strikeouts are avoidable with a better eye. I really want to see Pereira also become more aggressive when it comes to running. He’s got really good speed, and I would like to see him utilize it more.

Is Elton Brand A Wise Idea As Potential GM For The New York Knicks?

According to reports from Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News Wednesday, April 1st 2020, New York Knicks President, Leon Rose is allegedly eyeing Philadelphia 76ers Elton Brand for the General Manager position currently held by Scott Perry on the New York Knicks. Although landing Brand won’t be easy due to Elton Brand’s continuing contractual agreement with the Philadelphia 76ers beyond this season, Leon Rose potentially believes bringing aboard Elton Brand will fix the Knicks.

Honestly, I don’t know all the answers, however, Elton Brand becoming the next hired force in the painful to watch organization by the name of the New York Knicks sounds nightmarish.

It also doesn’t help that Brand was quite the most short-term visionary on the 76ers. Brand signed four players to a combined salary amount of $580 million dollars. Those contracts were given to Ben Simmons, Joe Embiid, Al Horford, and Tobias Harris. Elton Brand also made short-sighted trades such as acquiring Jimmy Butler without even talking to Butler about playing in Philly. Jimmy Butler eventually leaves 76ers. The Philadelphia 76ers’ demise will come sooner than later due to the decisions Elton Brand has made as a GM.

Elton Brand’s resume is muddy so far and he is aiming to win a championship in Philadelphia. The Knicks are looking to currently develop their roster and Elton Brand seems like the opposite. Brand would make an effort to bring a “win-now” approach to the Knicks and trade most if not, all the young talent.

Overall, Bondy of the New York Daily News better is April fooling us Knick fans. Brand just isn’t a fit for the Knicks. Development must be the way to go for New York right now. Selecting the long term roster through the draft must be key. Shortsighted moves are the last thing this Knick organization needs. We are trying to move forward not take five steps backward.

The New York Rangers, NHL, should follow the NBA’s ideas

New York Rangers

If the NHL and the New York Rangers want to return to action, they may want to look at some of the ideas that the NBA is floating. As COVID-19 lingers, it is becoming apparent that the bigger metro areas may not be able to stage sporting events, even if fans are not permitted. For example, the city of Toronto on Tuesday banned all “city-led and permitted” events through June 30. A spokesman for Mayor John Tory later told reporters that the ban does not apply to sports events, but the province of Ontario has “banned organized public events and social gatherings of more than (five) people.” This is just one example of the difficulty that all professional sports organizations are facing as they try to resume or start their seasons.

What the NHL and the New York Rangers can learn from the NBA

Recent reports have stated that the NBA is considering clustering teams to play games in locations such as the Bahamas and Las Vegas. While of course, that won’t work too well for the NBA, the NHL can consider the same idea in locations that can provide rinks and facilities to handle clusters of teams. Single city locations and a cluster of a few cities allow leagues some flexibility. Holding all games in a single city, or a small group of cities allows the leagues to play within the confines of quarantine and eliminates the need for travel and the hurdles that come with the need to comply with different cities’ restrictions and regulations when it comes to the necessary pandemic response. Recent reports have the NBA looking toward a single city option, using Las Vegas and casino hotels as a way to house players and employees.  But of course, putting down a basketball court is much easier than creating ice hockey rinks. One of the ideas that the NBA has considered could work well for the NHL.  The NBA had considered “taking over” some college campuses in the Midwest, where reported cases of COVID-19 are lower for the moment. This could work for the NHL as states such as North Dakota and South Dakota do not have severe “stay-at-home” restrictions like other parts of the country have. These states also have nice size colleges and hockey facilities that could host one or more clusters of teams to play.

Hopefully, all leagues, including the NHL, will leave no stone unturned in an attempt to safely resume seasons and help us get back to some sort of normalcy.

New York Yankees: What pitching coach Matt Blake is doing to keep pitchers sharp

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez, Gerrit Cole, Aaron Boone

The coronavirus has shut down all of baseball. The New York Yankees‘ pitching coach is trying to ease the situation by keeping his pitchers sharp for the eventual start of a baseball season if there is one.  Matt Blake, from his home in Cleveland, Ohio, is working with Yankee pitchers who are now scattered all over the United States.

Blake was hired during the offseason from the Indians organization to replace longtime pitching coach Larry Rothschild. He is trying to keep pitchers stretched out and tossing the ball, so they don’t lose what they gained from the shortened spring training season in Tampa.

“You are kind of guessing more than anything,” new pitching coach Mike Blake said Wednesday in a media conference call. “I think you’re kind of idling them as much as possible and trying to find out a good rhythm for all of them, given their circumstances.”

He stated that with a starting date for baseball completely unknown, he is leaving alone the veteran pitches like Tanaka, Happ, and Cole, as they know how to stay pitching ready.  He is in constant contact with New York Yankees James Paxton as he rehabs from his back surgery.  Paxton is doing well and will be ready sooner than it was anticipated.  He made it known he is spending most of his time on newer pitchers like Jordan Montgomery, Jonathan Loaisiga, and others, guiding them on ways to stay ready.

“I don’t think you need to be on a mound right now. Just given that we don’t really know a timeline, there’s a lot of other ways that we can keep them moving and putting healthy stress on (the pitching arm).“I do think there are some guys who benefit from being on a slope and keeping their delivery in rhythm, even if it’s on a lower volume of throws and just kind of ramping the intensity up a little bit on the slope to kind of keep the sequence and the delivery together. We talked about kind of keeping guys in some up-downs around 45-50 pitches from crowdsourcing with other pitching coaches around the league and some other guys that have a good feel for just what their body needs.

Veteran ace Gerrit Cole isn’t pitching from the mound, but he is getting his pitches in on the flat ground.  Cole is at his home in Greenwich, CT, where he recently bought a home on a large tract of land.  He has ample pitching room marked off to the usual 60′ distance between the pitcher’s mound and home plate.  He is lucky being able to pitch to neighbor New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone.  But his ace in the hole is his wife Amy.  They regularly play catch on the property.  Amy is an athlete in her own right and has a rocket of an arm.

Some pitchers benefit from pitching off a slope:

“We’re trying to get guys to get on the slope for one high-intensity session a week or one long-toss session at high intensity just to kind of make sure they’re pushing their motor up a little bit. And then the rest of the week, just kind of moving the ball around a little bit, whether it’s some moderate long toss or some flat ground (throwing), things of that nature.”

Blake has said previously that he feels the New York Yankees pitching staff will be ready no matter how the baseball season takes shape.  He was impressed with how the shortened spring training went for his pitchers.  Yankee pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is keeping sharp near his home in Japan until a mini-spring training date is announced.  He feels that the bullpen pitchers can keep themselves in shape and will be ready as well.

“We obviously know that our depth will be tested as with most teams,” Blake said. “But I think with the way that spring training was run and having a good look at the bulk of our pitchers both major and minor and some of the non-roster guys, we know we’ve got a nice roster of pitchers that will contribute here.”