Nick Saban Praises New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge

New York Giants, Joe Judge

The new head coach of the New York Giants, Joe Judge, has made a strong impression on fans so far. His no-nonsense attitude won the fans over during his introductory press conference. He then injected even more confidence into the fanbase by helping Dave Gettleman put together an excellent 2020 draft class.

Joe Judge was a bit of a surprising hiring. Many fans expected former Baylor head coach Matt Rhule to get the job. Being that he was a former special teams coordinator for the Patriots, fans did not know much about Joe Judge. But Bill Belichick and Nick Saban did, two references that undoubtedly helped Judge land his job with the Giants.

Nick Saban recently discussed what he saw in Joe Judge and offered plenty of praise for the rookie head coach.

Nick Saban Praises Joe Judge

Joe Judge has made it clear that he wants to form strong relationships with his players and “teach” them rather than “coaching” them. Saying it is one thing, but doing it is another. And Nick Saban claims he has seen Joe Judge do it. Saban praised Judge’s teaching skills and relationship-building skills:

“When Joe was here, he was a young guy, very bright, enthusiastic, great teacher, really good relationships with the players, had lots of leadership qualities about him because of the example that he set and the energy and the enthusiasm he had on a daily basis.” – Nick Saban on Joe Judge

Fans should be excited to hear about Joe Judge’s “energy and enthusiasm.” There are two qualities that were lacking in the New York Giants’ last two head coaches. Saban also described Judge as “really smart” and said that he “did a fantastic job” at Alabama. Judge won three National Championships during his time with Saban and the Roll Tide.

“No surprise to me that Joe has gotten to this point in his career, and we certainly wish him well” – Nick Saban on Joe Judge

Bartolo Colon’s “Big Sexy” nickname was born in the New York Mets

Simeon Woods-Richardson

The man known as “Big Sexy” is a big personality in the baseball industry. However, that nickname may be actually even bigger than him. Ever since Bartolo Colon adopted the “Big Sexy” phrase, fans and teammates alike loved it and it became part of the culture of the sport. And it all started on the New York Mets.

The former Cy Young winner, the owner of a career 4.12 ERA, reveals in his upcoming book that the nickname was born when he was an active member of the New York Mets roster a few seasons ago.

Colon played for the Mets between 2014 and 2016, and even made it to the World Series in 2015, losing to the Kansas City Royals. In his biography “Big Sexy: In His Own Words,” he recalls that it was current Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard the one that dubbed him “Big Sexy” during the 2015 season.

“Noah Syndergaard just started calling me Big Sexy in 2015, and the name stuck,” Colon wrote, according to Newsday. “I don’t think I’m sexy, but if the fans like the name, I like it, too.”

Another epic Colon moment with the Mets

Colon was a trending topic in social media this week because of the fourth anniversary of his first and only home run as a major leaguer, a scene that took place in San Diego in 2016 against James Shields. That was an epic moment, one that also happened when he was a member of the New York Mets.

The aforementioned book is expected to be released on May 12 according to the New York Post, and will cover Colon’s colorful 21-year tenure in the Major Leagues. Over that span, he played for the Cleveland Indians, Montreal Expos, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins, and Texas Rangers in addition to the Mets.

The “Big Sexy” nickname was probably born in the clubhouse, but it really went viral when Syndergaard published an Instagram post of his entire family sporting Big Sexy T-Shirts with Colon’s face on them in December 2015. In 2016, Colon filed for a trademark on the popular nickname.

New York Mets’ Pete Alonso: “I can almost sniff the season”

New York Mets‘ fans sure hope that Pete Alonso’s nose doesn’t lie. The hulking first baseman, reigning National League home run champion and Rookie of the Year recently said on his Instagram account that he can almost smell the start of the season.

Major League Baseball decided to stop its operations in mid-March due to concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic that has affected lives in some many ways and in several countries around the world.

The virus has killed thousands of Americans, so health authorities, MLB and the players association are thinking things very carefully before making a decision on when to return. The New York Mets should have played their 39th game of the season on Saturday, an afternoon battle against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Instead, each player is at home, working out individually and limited to social distancing rules. Mets manager Luis Rojas constantly checks on players and staff via his phone and the Internet.

The Mets’ ambassador

Alonso is the Mets’ heart and soul, a status that he earned both on and off the field. He hit 53 dingers on his debut season, and he got involved in the community, as well, in a positive way. Newyorkers love him, and he loves New York.

“I can almost sniff the season,” Alonso wrote. “It’s getting so close.” A June spring training with a start of the regular season in July is gaining traction these days around MLB headquarters. However, nothing is set in stone as of now. The pandemic will dictate whether it’s possible for baseball to come back at some point in the summer or not.

Of course, the Mets’ slugger is eager to return as soon as possible. He even endorsed the possibility of returning sooner with no fans in the stands, saying “whatever cards we’re dealt, we gotta play them.”

Alonso misses the Mets and baseball so much that he even confessed he has seen highlights of the 2019 season several times during the break. Let’s just hope we can have sports back soon and that the environment is safe.

New York Giants: Nick Saban tells us exactly what we want to hear with Xavier McKinney

New York Giants, Xavier McKinney

When the New York Giants selected safety Xavier McKinney with their second-round pick in the 2020 NFL draft, most were pleasantly surprised he was still available. Going into the draft as the top-rated safety, the Giants filled the position with great talent and potential. His ability to move up into a strong safety role and rush the passer is unique, allowing defensive coordinator Patrick Graham to utilize his skillset appropriately.

In 2019, McKinney tallied 95 tackles, 5.5 for a loss, 3.0 sacks, three interceptions, and four forced fumbles. His seven total turnovers were impressive, and the hope is he can translate that to the NFL level — a category the Giants struggled in last season,

The New York Giants are getting a high-ceiling player with Xavier McKinney:

McKinney is just 20 years old, attesting to his youth and developmental potential. As a junior in 2019, he was one of the best safeties and defensive players in college football, and bringing his talents over to the New York Giants as a second-round pick represents stellar value. Playing on a high caliber defense with Alabama allowed him to see what an NFL style scheme might look like.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban had nothing but good things to say about McKinney, who played a defense similar to the scheme Saban utilized while coaching the Dolphins and acting as Bill Belichick‘s defensive coordinator in Cleveland many years ago. When the six-time national champion head coach says something good about a player, it is best to listen and consider it.

“I think it’ll be helpful to him because we do – when I was coach at the Dolphins or Bill Belichick’s defensive coordinator in Cleveland – we do a lot of the same stuff here from a coverage standpoint, from a secondary standpoint,” the six-time national champion head coach said on the “Giants Huddle” podcast. “So our guys typically make good adjustments. I know a few years ago we had six guys sign NFL contracts and five of them ended up starting as rookies. Even though this will be a transition, I think most of the things that ‘X’ is going to be exposed to, he’s probably done. They might call it something different. I think it’ll be an easy transition for him.”

Mckinney’s diversity as a player, and the ability to play man coverage makes him much more than just a free safety. He is a fantastic tackler and brings toughness and speed to the game. While his 40-yard dash was a bit lackluster, he was dealing with cramps, and his game speed far surpasses one inadequate drill at the combine. Patrick Graham will have an excellent time utilizing him as a Blitzer, considering his style and high percentage blitz right from the safety and linebacker positions across the board. Expect to see McKinney very active on defense and playing a similar role to Jabrill peppers at times, confusing the opposing offense frequently.

New York Jets: CB Logan Ryan would be a great addition

New York Jets, Logan Ryan, Tennessee Titans

The New York Jets have been searching for cornerback stability for a long time now. Realistically, they haven’t had real stability since Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie manned the secondary. They gambled on Ohio State cornerback Dee Milliner in the 2013 draft and lost. They signed Trumaine Johnson to a big five-year, $72.5 million contract in 2018. We know how that turned out. Now, Gang Green finds themselves in another situation with a so-so cornerback group. Veteran Logan Ryan could provide some much-needed stability, leadership and experience on a short-term deal.

Ryan totaled 113 total tackles, 4 interceptions and 4.5 sacks last season with the Tennessee Titans en route to the AFC Championship game. He has played in 15 playoff games and has missed just three games over his seven-year career thus far with the Titans and Patriots. Also, he has won two Super Bowls with the Patriots. There’s the experience and stability in a nutshell. His experience could be a game-changer in the Jets’ secondary. The experience across their current players is far less. Let’s take a look at the cornerbacks currently on the team:

Brian Poole

Bless Austin

Pierre Desir

Quincy Wilson

Bryce Hall

Arther Maulet

Nate Hairston

These names may change and we don’t know what the depth chart is going to look like as of yet. Regardless, there isn’t much stability in that group. Logan Ryan would not only slide in as a starter, but he would also prevent younger, less experienced players from being placed into big-time situations when they shouldn’t be. Ryan is one of the top remaining free agents and would immediately bolster a Jets secondary that desperately needs cornerback help.

 

The New York Jets could pursue Pro Bowl offensive guard Larry Warford

New York Jets, Larry Warford

You probably read that headline and thought, “Sheesh, how many more offensive linemen can this team sign?”. Quite frankly, Joe Douglas has spent loads of resources between draft picks and money towards fixing the offensive line. Although he’s done a great job, the New York Jets could add another offensive lineman who would turn the line into an above-average line. That lineman is the newly released 3-time pro bowler, Larry Warford.

Who is Larry Warford?

Larry Warford was a third-round pick by the New Orleans Saints during the 2013 draft. At 28 years old, Warford has started on the Saints offensive line since his inception into the NFL. He’s only missed a handful of games in that time, and he’s received three Pro Bowl nods in the last three years. Warford is a durable and talented guard. Had he hit the market at the start of free agency, he’d have been a hot commodity. Now, with the addition of Saints’ first-rounder Cesar Ruiz to pair with their other young offensive linemen, the Saints felt that Warford and his $12.9 million dollar cap hit (2nd highest next to Drew Brees) were not worth it anymore. Warford now faces a likely extensive market.

The New York Jets Should Target Him

As I previously mentioned, although the Jets overhauled their offensive line, you never say no to a Pro Bowler. The tackles and center position may be solidified, and the Jets may have established competition at guard, but Warford is an instant game-changer. His durability and leadership would make him an asset. If you release Brian Winters and allow Alex Lewis, Cameron Clark, and Greg Van Roten to compete for the other guard spot, then Warford can be a starter on the line.

The fact is, the Jets need to continue to improve and establish completion at a position that is still not all the way improved. Adding a Pro Bowler in his prime would take the Jets’ offensive line to another level.

New York Yankees: Gio Urshela’s 2019 Wasn’t a Fluke, He’s the Future 3B

New York Yankees, Gio Urshela

The Gio Urshela craze in 2019 was insane, as he was a breakout star who was stepping in for the young and promising Miguel Andujar. He and DJ LeMahieu led the charge as breakout stars, but the difference was that Urshela was a castaway, a minor league player at best to many organizations. DJ was already an established starter, who was an all-star and had success in Colorado. though he still exceeded many expectations in 2019. Urshela is one of the better 3rd basemen in baseball, which is saying something as the 3B position is very deep. He isn’t top 10 but he’s above average for sure and given a starting job to play he could be great in 2020. People write his 2019 off as a fluke, but to think that after looking at the numbers wouldn’t just be wrong, it’d be ignorance at it’s finest.

Hitting the Ball Very Hard

Giovanni Urshela averaged a 90.5 MPH exit velocity on balls hit in 2019, which was in the 76th percentile in the MLB which is very good. He also had a 40.6 hard-hit % which was good for the 60th percentile. While hitting the ball hard isn’t the way to project well as a hitter, it’s an important step as it shows that they’re not just getting lucky with hits. Urshela also had shown a lot of promise in his expected stats, with a .294 xBA, a .505 xSLG, and xWOBA of .353, which were not worse from his actual stats by much. If you factor his BB% of 5.3% you can project a slash line of (over 500 PA) of .294/.333/.504  in the next season which would still be very good.

Best Option At The Hot Corner

With Gleyber at SS and DJ at 2B for 2020 most likely, the third base position is best in the hands of Gio Urshela. With 1 DRS and a -3.4 UZR/150 being mediocre fielding numbers, it’s a huge improvement over Andujar’s abysmal defense with a career -25 DRS and -26 UZR/150. In 2019 Andujar had already -4 DRS (which is a cumulative stat) in only 33 innings, showing how much of a liability he is at 3B. How about offensively? Miguel Andujar’s 130 wRC+, .361 wOBA, .527 SLG, .444 xSLG, and .326 xWOBA all are worse than Gio Urshela, and the nail in the coffin is the 2.8 fWAR in 149 games for Andujar compared to Urshela’s 3.1 fWAR in 132 games. Urshela is the better defensive and offensive option by most metrics, and Andujar’s expected stats are truly concerning for the Yankees, who see Andujar’s offense as his best quality.

What To Do With Andujar

Personally platooning him at DH or LF and having him play about 100 games out of 162 would allow the Yankees to see what they have in the youngster. If he shows promise at this role he can end up with more games played in the following season. The Yankees have better options in left with Tauchman and Stanton, at 1B you have Voit and Ford. Then you have the RF position with Aaron Judge. The Yankees shouldn’t play Andujar to play him, especially over guys (like Urshela) who’s numbers are significantly better than Andujar’s.

I know this will get a lot of hate because a lot of people love Andujar more than Urshela but numbers do not lie. If we want the Yankees to win ballgames, their best chance at 3B is Urshela, now and perhaps into the future as well.

 

New York Yankees Prospects: Nolan Martinez

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

Back in 2016, the New York Yankees selected a starting pitcher out of Culver City, California in the third round who impressed them with his incredibly high fastball spin rate and overall presence on the mound. That starting pitcher is none other than Nolan Martinez. Martinez was able to land a $1.15 million signing bonus when he signed with the Yankees. The raw tools are there for Martinez to develop into a really solid starting pitcher, but his first few years of professional baseball have been focused on his physical development. The amount of spin that Martinez can put on the ball is hard to teach, however, his lack of development caused his stuff to lack a little speed. In addition to that, he was a two-pitch pitcher who focused on his fastball and curveball. The New York Yankees have been working with Martinez on developing his changeup to complement those two pitches, and he showed that off in an impressive 2019 campaign.

2019 Recap

Nolan Martinez who is getting ready to turn 22, appeared in seven games in 2019 and started six of those games. In those appearances, Martinez went 1-2 in 32.2 innings pitched. Martinez had an ERA and a pretty good WHIP of 1.10 in 2019. In watching film from last season, there are a couple of things that really stand out when watching Martinez pitch. He really goes right after guys and he’s rarely in a hitters count. Martinez focuses on keeping the ball down and has said that he tries to induce ground balls. Despite getting a lot of swings and misses, Martinez doesn’t strike out as many batters as you’d think. However, his offspeed pitches plus the riding life on his fastball induces a lot of weak contact which keeps him out of trouble. There is plenty to like about the slim right-hander from California.

Areas for Improvement

When the season gets underway, I’d just like to see Martinez continue to develop physically. He stands 6’2 but only weighs 165 pounds. Of course, we’ve seen skinny pitchers thrive in baseball, but I’d like to see him add a little more strength if possible. His fastball does occasionally touch the mid-90s, but I’d like to see it flirt in the upper-90s. Combining the higher speed with his natural spin would make that fastball incredibly difficult to square up. In addition to adding a little strength, I’d like to see the changeup continue to develop. Right now, I’m comfortable watching Martinez throw his top two pitches, but sometimes the changeup looks a little flat to me. If he can improve the changeup to be on the same level as his curveball, he could quickly rise through the ranks of Yankees prospects. Martinez is definitely a guy who has the tools and the talent to become a quality starter at the MLB level in a couple of years.

New York Yankees Prospects: Matt Sauer

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

Back in 2017, the New York Yankees selected a right-handed starting pitcher out of Righetti, California who had an impressive senior season which opened the eyes of many scouts in baseball. That starting pitcher would be Matt Sauer. Sauer has a four-pitch mix that he loves to use on the mound. He features a fastball that sits in the mid-90s, a really solid changeup, and a power curve and slider. Sauer is the kind of pitcher that is going to go right at hitters with his impressive mix. He loves to compete on the mound and is known as one of the harder workers in the organization. Sauer was only able to make two starts in 2019 before being shut down for Tommy John surgery. Prior to the surgery announcement, Sauer was known as one of the top prospects in the pitching ranks in the Yankees system after a very impressive 2018 campaign.

Good Start

Back in 2018, Sauer showed a lot of people in the New York Yankees front office why he was selected so high in the draft. In 13 starts, Sauer went 3-6 with a 3.90 ERA and a WHIP of 1.16. Sauer has a very high spin rate on all of his pitches which really showed in the amount of weak contact he was able to generate. 2018 was spent really trying to refine his secondary pitches. His slider and changeup were two pitches that Sauer really tried to work on in 2018 with his fastball and curveball already having plus potential. When 2019 started, Sauer picked right up where he left off in his two starts. Sauer went 8.2 innings only allowing two runs on six hits. While the sample size is small, there’s a lot to like when looking at Matt Sauer as a prospect.

Where to Improve

It will be interesting to see the form Sauer retains when he returns from Tommy John. Nowadays, pitchers seem to come back to form if not improve coming off the surgery, but as is the case with any operation, you never know until you see him back on the mound. If Sauer returns to form, there are several things I think he needs to look at when he returns. He needs to continue to refine his secondary offerings. With his high spin rates, he should be striking out more batters, but sometimes his secondary pitches are too easy to layoff. One of the reasons for this could be his extended arm motion which seems difficult to replicate pitch after pitch. Sauer is a big guy standing 6’4 and weighing over 200 pounds so ideally, you’d like to see him have more of a smoother delivery. Sauer has all the makeups to be a pretty good starter, but some think he will just be a serviceable innings eater. To me, it all comes down to the development of those secondary pitches. If they don’t improve much from where he is now, he’s going to slot in at the end of rotations. If he can polish them, he can work his way towards the top. Sauer is definitely a prospect I like and I’m going to be watching when he returns from TJ surgery.

NFL: LA Rams Aaron Donald-99 on the Field, but 100 off of it

When you think of someone who is an absolute powerhouse, a force to be reckoned with, and just an all-around adept athlete the first person that comes to mind is Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald.  Donald is one of, if not the best, to ever play the game.  He makes each and every match up exciting to watch and gives it his absolute all no matter what the score may be.  On the field, he may ram into offenses, but off the field, he is an absolute angel!  

What truly sets Donald apart from the rest is the incredible work he does with his foundation AD99 Solutions Foundation.  His beautiful family is on the board of directors of his foundation and they are fully involved and immerse themselves in giving back.  Looking at his classy, upstanding family, it is no wonder how Donald is such a good guy!

Donald hosts a free football camp for the youth each year.   The foundation has a program called Cohort Curriculum in which offers students mentoring through various services including finding out what career they may be interested in pursuing, physical activities including training and outdoor activities, as well as leadership development, empowering them to excel in all that they do.  They know the importance of equipping students with more than academic knowledge, going above and beyond to ensure that they are fully developed in every area.  The foundation, partnering with Ready Nutrition, also started an initiative called “Fuel for Success”,  which aims at making sure that healthy foods are provided to all and that the youth understands just how significant good nutrition is to their overall well-being.  They have also hosted a Cocktail hour to raise money for academic as well as athletic leadership programs.   

Just recently, with the ongoing pandemic, Donald saw fit to host a free Mental Flex forum which will last for the next seven weeks,  for student-athletes in which he discusses topics like health and wellness, race, gender, and society, volunteerism and advocacy and career and personal development.  Donald knows that it takes more than talent and skill to be a truly good athlete.  To fully be well-rounded, Donald knows that it goes far beyond the game of football and that one should give back in any way they can, something Donald excels at.  

His foundation also donated 9,999 cases of protein water from Ready Nutrition to help those on the front line assisting those battling Covid-19. 

With each and every person he meets, a huge smile always adorns Donald’s face.  He loves interacting with and helping others and it shows.  

The work that Donald does is beyond extraordinary.  To help so many people and make such a profound impact on the lives of Pittsburgh’s youth is awe-inspiring.  Donald is so full of humility and does all of this philanthropy out of the goodness of his heart.  His soul is pure and so altruistic.  There are not enough kind things to say about him!  Donald is one-of-a-kind and a gift not only to the NFL but to the community!  They say we make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give and Donald embodies that to the fullest!  Kind people are the best kind of people and Donald is certainly one of them!