On this Date in Nets History: 1976

On May 13th, 1976, Julius Erving and the New York Nets defeated the Nuggets 112 – 106 in Game 6 of the ABA Finals in Nassau Coliseum to win their 2nd ABA championship in 3 years. With Dr. J leading the way, the team also had several players who would play in the NBA later in their career, including Al Skinner, John Williamson, and Brian Taylor.

Before their NBA tenure, the Nets were a force to be reckoned with in the ABA. Their star? Julius “Dr. J” Erving. a man who would go on to be one of the greatest players in the history of the league. Before his 11 dominant years in the NBA, Erving was the king of the ABA, averaging close to 30 a game during his 5 years in the ABA. He won 2 ABA championships in 3 years with the Nets. One could say, he was the Michael Jordan of the ABA.

For those who are not as familiar with Julius Erving’s body of work, check out this video of several highlights from his Nets career:

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New York Giants: What Should We Expect From Jason Garrett On Offense?

New York Giants, Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys

The New York Giants are revamping their offensive scheme. After two years with head coach Pat Shurmur running the offense, New York is taking a different approach in 2020. The Gmen hired Joe Judge as their next head coach and he assembled a phenomenal coaching staff. Judge made a splash on offense, hiring former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett as the team’s next offensive coordinator.

In a media conference call yesterday, Joe Judge stated that the Giants’ 2020 offense will have “no carryover in any way shape or form.” The offense will be “similarly based” on what Jason Garrett ran in Dallas. So what exactly will that offense look like?

Jason Garrett’s Air Coryell Offense

Jason Garrett will be bringing the Air Coryell offense over to the Giants. Here is how the Air Coryell offense is defined:

“Named after Don Coryell, the head coach of the San Diego Chargers during the 1978-86 seasons, Air Coryell is designed to spread out a defense vertically as opposed to horizontally, like the West Coast Offense.” – via Sports Illustrated.

The Passing Game

With the goal being to stretch the defense vertically, there will be an emphasis placed on speed. Not only physical speed amongst the playmakers, but mental speed for quarterback Daniel Jones. This offensive scheme is based on timing. This offense “relies on building timing patterns into the offense where the quarterback must be able to time his throws to connect with a receiver at a designated spot within the route.”

With that being said, it is crucial that Jones and his receivers are on the same page. Daniel will need to get the ball out of his hands quickly and he will need to find his receivers on time. Anticipation will be vital to Jones’s success in 2020.

“With Garret calling plays, the Cowboys passing offense was never ranked lower than 9th in yards per game or 11th in yards per play, including two top five finishes in both categories. The rushing offense was top ten in yards per play four times.” –via Giants.com

The Giants will line up in 11-personnel a lot less now. Shurmur’s offense stuck to the standard 11-personnel, running that set on 74% of their snaps last season. Garrett’s Cowboys lined up with one running back and one tight end on 67% of their offensive plays. Garrett’s offense places an emphasis on the utilization of the tight end, so expect to see more 12-personnel in 2020. Giants fans are well aware of how much Garrett loved to use Jason Witten in Dallas. Witten, as the long-time tight end of the Cowboys, received 80 or more targets every year he played under Garrett, including multiple 120+ target seasons. Evan Engram will inevitably see his role expand with Garrett in town.

Of course, much of Dallas’s offensive success can be attributed to their proficient offensive line. The Giants upgraded their front line in the 2020 NFL Draft and should see the unit improve drastically in 2020 under Marc Colombo. Daniel Jones will have more time in the pocket and better protection, allowing him to anticipate his throws and deliver them on time.

The Running Game

Since 2014, Dallas offenses have used a variety of run schemes, with outside and inside zone the most frequent most seasons. They also mix in man and power schemes (according to Pro Football Focus, via Giants.com). But the Cowboys were not stuck in their ways running the football. The scheme was flexible, depending on who the running back was. For example, when Demarco Murray was the team’s rusher, the scheme emphasized outside zone to take advantage of Murray’s shiftiness and tackle-breaking ability. With Ezekiel Elliot, however, the offense has featured more inside zone, adapting to Elliot’s downhill playstyle.

Jason Garrett and the Dallas Cowboys ran for 2,153 yards last season on 4.8 yards per attempt with 18 rushing touchdowns. The team has rushed for over 1,900 yards in every season since 2016. In 2015 they were 10 yards short of that mark but were coming off of an explosive 2,354 rushings yards in 2014.

So, to summarize, Jason Garrett loves to run the football. Saquon Barkley should see his production increase after an injury-plagued 2019 season. A healthy Saquon Barkley behind an improved offensive line in Jason Garrett’s offense is a recipe for great success in 2020.

The Dallas Cowboys’ offense led the NFL in yards per game in 2019. He might have had his flaws as a head coach, but Jason Garrett is an excellent offensive coordinator. He will significantly upgrade the Giants’ offense and incorporate a scheme in which Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones can thrive.

New York Giants: 2020 Training Camp Could Be Relocated

New York Giants rookie quarterback, Daniel Jones.

The New York Giants have concluded rookie minicamp, but training camp remains a mystery. The team may require a change in plans thanks to the quarantines still effecting the New York and New Jersey area, which have already affected the offseason by preventing the staff from being able to meet with players as would usually happen. One of those changes in plans may end up being a relocation to another site for training camp.

That’s according to head coach Joe Judge, who said as much on a conference call with reporters. He called it one of multiple scenarios the Giants are mapping out.

“In terms of relocating, our ops department is doing a great job right now mapping out a lot of different scenarios in terms of, if for some reason we have to relocate, making connections around the area, around the country, as to whatever we may need to do,” Judge said.

Unlike some teams that already hold training camp outside of their main locale, the Giants would normally hold their training camp right in East Rutherford – this, however, isn’t a normal offseason.

The Giants are waiting on direction from the NFL to move back to regular training rather than the remote programs the Giants have used earlier in this offseason.

“We’re waiting on direction from the league in terms of making a decision on that. Hopefully, in a perfect world, we’re all back in New Jersey training sooner than later. But we’re planning for a lot of hypotheticals and, if they come up, we’re not caught by surprise,” Judge continued. “Look, I would love to have them in Jersey right now. I would love for the setup of a remote campus, if that were what is necessary. But getting to the campus and making sure while we’re there we’re not exposed to anything, we have to consider that as well.”

Under normal circumstances this training camp would be rather anticipated because it’s the first under a new head coach and the Giants have added a number of additions on offense and defense, while welcoming back a second year starter at quarterback.

All of those narratives, however, may be overshadowed by the conversation on whether or not training camp will happen at all given the situation right now.

Listen to Episode 20 of Fireside Giants: Reviewing Joe Judge’s comments, Jason Garrett’s offense, and mailbag questions

New York Giants, Fireside Giants

The latest episode of Fireside Giants, a New York Giants podcast is out! Check it out here:

In this episode of Fireside Giants, the gang dives into Joe Judge’s recent comments regarding their new offense and how the rookies are connecting on a virtual plane.

Prioritizing health, Judge ensured that he would not risk his players contracting the coronavirus by flying them all over the country on worrisome Aircrafts. He made it apparent that he would not send his own kids on a plane at this moment in time, so why would he risk the health of his players? As a first-year head coach, not only is this a humanitarian driven response, but also a sign of his respect and protective mentality over his squad.

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We look further into his comments and what they mean for the Giants moving forward. We also take a look at Jason Garrett’s offense and what that might look like in 2020. Ultimately, their offense will change significantly from 2019, and Judge stated that Daniel Jones will not carry over a lot of what he learned last season into the future. We fully expect to see a different scheme and a variety of new concepts introduced. If you want to learn more about the offense and what it could look like, don’t hesitate to listen to our latest episode on iTunes or a visual representation on YouTube.

In addition, we break down mailbag questions regarding a variety of different topics. We also dive into tight end Evan Engram and how he can produce next season and if the Giants should consider trading him at the deadline. What kind of value does he hold?

With quarantine in full swing, we are doing our best to produce high-quality content for you great people! We appreciate your support on every platform and hope you are safe during these times.

Looking at some of the issues in the MLB money struggle

A developing story over the past few days has been the talks between all parties in the MLB in an attempt to get the 2020 season underway. On Monday, owners approved a plan and sent it to the players union for negotiations. But right now, the issue seems to be the money struggle between the league, players, and owners.

In March, players agreed to get paid on a prorated basis. Meaning, if the league plays half a season, players get half their salary. However, owners want to renegotiate that due to the unlikeliness of fans in the stands this season.

Owners are concerned about the money that they will lose without fans in the stands. Are they correct? Yes, they will lose a lot of money without fans. The issue here is that owners don’t want to pay the prorated salaries because they don’t want to lose money.

These owners are billionaires. They have billions of dollars in the bank. What they seem to fail to realize is that this is likely a one-season ordeal, and assuming a vaccine to coronavirus comes out at the end of 2020 as planned, then fans will be in the stands in 2021. The owners will undoubtedly make up the money lost within a few years. Since there is already a prorated deal in place, it shouldn’t be changed because that is unfair to players.

Well, you can say that most players are millionaires already so they can be paid pennies for a season. Wrong. You can’t significantly change a deal that’s been in place since the beginning of the shutdown. Owners can afford the salaries for a season. They just don’t want to pay them. And not all players are millionaires anyway. More players than you would think are on minimum deals.

So, with no fans in the stands, teams will generate revenue almost solely from TV deals. Teams like the Yankees or Mets will be just fine from TV deals since their regional deals are in a big market with a lot of fans. They make a ton of money from YES and SNY, respectively. Also, those two teams will make money off of nationally televised games.

The teams that will struggle the most are the struggling teams in the MLB. If teams aren’t winning games, then not as many people will want to watch. A team like the Yankees will make a lot more from their TV deals than a team like the Marlins or the Orioles. Struggling teams are rarely on national television and that lowers their revenue.

However, a positive with the TV deals is that the best teams have the highest payrolls so that they will be generating more TV revenue and using that for salaries. But, the struggling teams will still hurt more. The Marlins will be furloughing at least 40% of their full-time employees. They just can’t afford to pay them all.

So, this is the big hang-up in negotiations about a 2020 season. Health and safety concerns seemed to be getting addressed, and that’s an important thing. Hopefully, all sides can get the economic issues figured out.

No 2020 season would kill baseball.

If there were to be no 2020 season, it would kill baseball. I can guarantee you that a lot of casual fans will stop watching if the 2020 season gets canceled, similar to what happened to the 1994 World Series. That season was shortened from a strike.

And speaking of strikes, the MLB CBA expires after the 2021 season. With that being said, we may see a strike in the winter or spring of 2022.

That’s why the league mustn’t let the 2020 season slip away. Canceling because of safety concerns is one thing, but canceling because of money would be devastating to the sport.

New York Giants’ Daniel Jones says ball security issues a “fairly simple fix”

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

New York Giants QB Daniel Jones is trying to get rid of one bad habit.

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones enjoyed many successes in his rookie season in 2019, but he also had various cons he will need to work on this off-season. In his rookie year, Jones played in 13 games, logging 3027 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. However, the biggest negative was his fumbles, as he tallied 18.

Out of the 18 times he fumbled, he lost 11, portraying his lack of ball security and awareness in the pocket. This off-season, Daniel has been working consistently on drills to help alleviate this significant concern. If he can rid himself of this issue moving forward, Jones will have all of the positive tools to become a solidified franchise passer for the New York Giants.

On a zoom call with media members, Jones stated that he’s been working on ball security, particularly in the pocket and protecting the rock. He said it’s a “fairly simple fix” and “you just have to keep two hands on it.” Practicing this over and over again will ultimately be the solution at the end of the day, but we won’t know if this problem has been solved until the regular season when he is under pressure by starting pass rushers.

Nonetheless, the Giants drafted left tackle Andrew Thomas to help solidify the offensive front to give Jones the protection he needs. The second your signal-caller was sacked 38 times in his rookie campaign, a number far too high if the Giants want him to remain healthy in the future. In addition, having a healthy Saquon Barkley back on the field will help his security blanket and give him a check down he can rely on. All of these factors play into his ball security and getting the football out quicker.

The offensive players are all communicating via Zoom to learn the new playbook, in which Jones said things are going well. The biggest difference will be the verbiage, he stated.

Can the New York Jets have an elite defense in 2020?

New York Jets, Jamal Adams

The New York Jets have the ability to play at a high-level on defense in 2020, but it boils down to the depth and if they can supplement injuries properly. However, let’s take a look at the starting units and if they have the potential to be elite by any means.

The New York Jets’ starting players by unit:

Starters on the Defensive Line: Quinnen Williams, Steve McLendon, Henry Anderson

The Jets selected Quinnen Williams in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft, and he struggled to a degree in his rookie season. The former Alabama standout has plenty of potential that has yet to be unlocked, having posted 2.5 sacks and six quarterback hits in 13 games last season. He only played on 46% of defensive snaps, which indicates he should probably see an uptick in that category moving forward. He has the potential to be elite, and he is an integral part of the Jets pass rush scheme. I fully expect him to take a significant jump in 2020.

The next interior defender is Steve McLendon, who posted similar numbers to Williams last season. His 2.5 sacks and seven quarterback hits closely mirrored the rookie’s, but McLendon played in three more games. He had an impressive missed tackle percentage of 5.3 and is known for his quality against the run. He is a staple on the Jets defense and contributes heavily to the run-stopping category.

Henry Anderson, who stands at 6-foot-6 and 301 pounds, was another contributor for the Jets last season on the left side of the defensive line. He only compiled one sack and nine quarterback hits, but he has the potential to be a producer. I wouldn’t expect him to be a double-digit sack player, but he did record 7.0 in 2018. He will be 29 years old next season, and we should expect him to increase his production a bit.

Backups on the Defensive Line: Kyle Phillips, Nathan Shepherd, Foley Fatukasi

Starters at Linebacker: Jordan Jenkins, C.J. Mosley, Avery Williamson, Tarell Basham

The Jets’ linebackers are one of the strongest units, with CJ Mosley set to return from injury. Mosley is undoubtedly their best player at the position, but having Jordan Jenkins and Avery Williamson alongside him doesn’t hurt. We know that Mosley is already at the elite level, but Jenkins is well on his way to being a fantastic player for Gang Green. He recently signed a one-year deal with the Jets after recording 8.0 sacks and 13 quarterback hits in 14 games last season.

Avery Williamson, on the other hand, missed the entire 2019 campaign, but two years ago, in his first season with the Jets, he logged 120 tackles and recorded three turnovers. His 4.0 missed tackle rate was awe-inspiring, and if he can replicate these numbers in 2020, the Jets will have a stellar linebacking corps.

Tarell Basham is an expected starter on defense as well. In his third season in the NFL, he posted 2.0 sacks and four quarterback hits in two games started last season. While his numbers don’t suggest he can be an elite player, he is serviceable for the time being. Mosley, Williamson, and Jenkins are the three premium talents at the position.

Backups at Linebacker: Blake Cashman, Patrick Onwausor, Jabari Zuniga, Frankie Luvu

Starters at Cornerback: Logan Ryan, Pierre Desir, Brian Poole

The Jets recently signed Logan Ryan to a one-year deal to supplement the loss of Trumaine Johnson. Ryan is a talented veteran corner who can fill in as the number one option on defense. Their starters include Ryan, Pierre Desire, and Brian Poole. This unit is underrated on paper, but they are producers and efficient against the passing game.

Ryan is an interesting corner, having tallied 4.5 sacks last season and eight quarterback hits. He has proven to be healthy throughout his career and will be 29 years old in 2020. His 113 combine tackles suggest that teams targeted him in coverage, and his 66% completion rate against is a bit concerning. He also allowed five touchdowns. If teams back off Ryan and allow him to play cornerback on an island, he should see relative success.

Bless Austin is another player to keep your eye on for the Jets, who saw tremendous success in his rookie season coming out of Rutgers. Austin has the potential to develop into the number two corner moving forward, but for now, Desir will man the position. Desire has seen his fair share of struggles in the past, but he’s best suited for off-ball man coverage. Expect to see him in a lot of man-coverage situations in Gregg Williams’ scheme.

Backups at Cornerback: Bless Austin, Arthur Maulet, Quincy Wilson 

Starters at Safety: Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye

The safeties unit for the Jets is arguably one of their strongest, consisting of Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye. Adams is an elite talent who has racked up impressive numbers so far in his career. In 2019, he earned 6.5 sacks as a strong safety and tallied 75 combine tackles. His 5.1 missed tackle rate is extremely impressive, and he limited opposing quarterbacks to just a 55.3% completion rate. He only allowed two touchdowns on 38 targets. Adams has been demanding a new contract for some time, and the Jets would be silly to let him walk.

Maye, on the other hand, played In all 16 games last season, posting decent numbers. He posted 65 combined tackles and seven passes offended. However, the most impressive number was his completion percentage at 50. He allowed three touchdowns and 20.1 yards per completion, which is a bit problematic. He played on 99% of defense of snaps, proving his durability and his ability to play free safety at a quality level.

I expect him to improve his numbers a bit in 2020 and hopefully create a bit a few more turnovers.

Overall, the Jets do you have a fantastic defensive unit that heavily relies on their health. The depth at every position is minimal, and injuries could force them into a corner once again. However, if they can remain healthy and at full power, this unit has the potential to be elite.

The New York Giants have a secret weapon on the coaching staff

New York Giants, Jerry Schuplinski

Taking a look at one secret weapon the New York Giants have up their sleeve:

The New York Giants overhauled their entire coaching staff this past off-season, which ultimately represents uncertainty for the future. Their 2019 coaches clearly failed to get the job done, and the hope is that the new management regimen will be more disciplined and effective in their quest to bring success to Big Blue.

Every position was essentially turned over, but the secret weapon the Giants should be excited about is quarterbacks coach, Jerry Schuplinski.

Schuplinski spent six seasons with new head coach Joe Judge with the New England Patriots. He has experience training/developing Tom Brady, Jacoby Brissett, and Jimmy Garoppolo, three starting quarterbacks in the NFL, two of them have been to a Super Bowl with their own team.

Each quarterback has had nothing but positive things to say about Schuplinski, who is versed in training the mental aspects of quarterbacks and helping them through the developmental curve. He can be a golden goose for the Giants, who are thrusting Daniel Jones into his second offense in two seasons. Having new faces and new coaches around him will certainly be problematic, but they have brought in the perfect pieces to help him transition with simplicity.

“When I first stepped into the facility for rookie minicamp, he definitely took me under his wing and I think the process led right up until my last day there,” Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett said, via WEEI, of his time with Schuplinski in New England. “I think what his role was and what he felt like he embraced was he was going to go through the learning curve with me. That was something I respected and I took to heart. I am sure he didn’t have to, but he went with me through my ups and downs and the learning process with the offense. I think that paid off a lot for me.”

Jacoby states how Schuplinski helped his progress and stuck with him every step of the way in New England. This ultimately led him to become a starting-caliber player down the line. It seems that every quarterback that goes through the New England system somehow finds a way to land a starting gig and perform at a high-level in the NFL.

“I can’t even tell you how many conversations I had with Jerry just man-to-man, him helping me out and getting me acclimated to the NFL life,” Garoppolo told WEEI.com. “I really thank him for that. I probably wouldn’t be where I am at without him.”

Garoppolo expressed his gratitude toward Jerry, who became more than just a coach, but rather a friend. Being honest and truthful in the NFL is essential for success, and holding yourself and others accountable plays into the equation. Schuplinski made sure that Garoppolo had everything he needed, including honesty, to reach his potential finally.

“The goal is to work everyone up to the level that’s the highest we can go,” Schuplinski said in 2019. “And not work downward. It’s a constant challenge on younger guys, but that’s a good thing.”

The Giants are in great hands moving forward at the quarterback spot, and Daniel Jones should be ecstatic to work with a coach as capable as Schuplinski. All we can hope is that Jones grasps the offense in stride and can exceed expectations in year two.

The New York Islanders’ biggest rival right now is…

New York Islanders

As the sports world still deals with the coronavirus pandemic as its latest enemy, it seems like the perfect time to talk about rivalries. In the Islanders’ case, things have definitely changed over time since the team first came around in 1972 regarding their biggest rivals.

Just this morning in The Athletic’s fan survey of the team, one of the questions asked is who is the team’s biggest rival?

The choices given were the Rangers, Capitals, Hurricanes, Penguins, and others.

All four of those clubs deserve major consideration for being the Isles’ top adversary.  There have been memorable and not so memorable moments with each of those foes over the past few years.

But with all due respect to them, the organization’s most heated antagonist right now is: the Toronto Maple Leafs.

As much as people want to still say it’s the Rangers (the teams share a market) or the Capitals (a classic seven-game playoff series in 2015 and some knockdown, drag ’em out showdowns in the regular season over the past few years), there’s a number of reasons why the Leafs take the cake.

There’s just a certain type of electricity now when the Isles and Toronto square off. Even before John Tavares decided to bolt for his hometown club, the clubs always seemed to elevate their games against each other.

Now some would say the Islanders and Leafs not being division rivals means it’s not a true rivalry. But the two teams have had animosity for awhile now.

Back in 2002, the Islanders met Toronto in the first round of the playoffs after a renaissance campaign where they recorded 96 points and clinched the franchise’s first postseason berth in eight years. That series went seven games and was one of the most physical, grueling, and vicious series ever played in the history of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Leafs would outlast the Islanders, but the result was a newfound hatred for each other.

Fast forward to 2007: The Islanders need a win over the Devils on the last day of the season to secure the eighth and final playoff spot in the East; they had defeated Toronto earlier in the week which helped put them in that position.

New Jersey made the interesting decision to start backup goalie Scott Clemmensen over starter Martin Brodeur. The Isles took advantage of that call, winning the game in a shootout 3-2 and knocking the Leafs out from the playoffs in the process.

This past decade saw the Islanders and Leafs share almost a similar path.

Both clubs were rebuilding early on and are now two of the more prominent teams in the league. They’ve shared players — Matt Martin, Michael Grabner, Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolay Kulemin, and the aforementioned, Tavares. Shared executives and coaches. Lou Lamoriello — who was general manager in Toronto from 2014-18 — is now running the show on Long Island; Goaltending coach Piero Greco and assistant coach Jim Hiller were in the Leafs’ organization before joining the Islanders.

Toronto, and most of it from the media, has always looked down upon the Islanders for some reason. While that may not have an effect on the ice, it just adds to the intensity that two fanbases show off it.

Before Tavares became a Leaf in 2018, the media and Leafs fans were nonstop in their thinking that he would leave the Islanders to come play for them once his contract expired. Isles fans brushed off the notion that their franchise star would spurn them for the team he grew up rooting for. When he did, the distaste for the organization and their supporters.

That’s why when Tavares made his return to Long Island a year ago at the end of February, fans made sure to let him know how hurt they were by his decision.

The blow of Tavares leaving has begun to soften a little bit after the success the Isles have had since he left. Then again, the quiet rivalry between him and the organization’s new face — Mathew Barzal — seems like it could play out over the rest of their careers.

It’s not just those two individuals though. The teams are complete opposites of each other, which has made their clashes and will make future contests even more entertaining. Hopefully, there’s another playoff series between them down the road. The headlines would be glorious and social media be set on fire.

The Islanders have been known for having some intense rivalries, but whether you agree or disagree, none are as hotter or juicier than the one they have with the Toronto Maple Leafs at this moment.

 

 

New York Yankees’ minor leaguer is helping fight COVID-19 in his hometown

New York Yankees

The coronavirus pandemic has turned our world upside down. Lots of countries are still in quarantine, thousands of people have died, global economy has taken a huge hit, and even professional sports are halted in most places. MLB had to cancel the start of the season and we don’t know when we will see the New York Yankees play again. All parties involved are still negotiating.

During the waiting game, lots of people have decided to embrace projects to help their respective communities. A young New York Yankees minor leaguer named Montana Semmel is one of them.

Semmel is a 36th round draft pick by the Yankees out of Westhill High School in Stamford, last year. He has friends who have lost loved ones due to COVID-19, and he knows that things at hospitals are bad.

He has a cousin named Christin Lucia, working as a head nurse at the Stamford Hospital. “It’s bad up here,” Semmel, who is with his family in Stamford, said last week to the New York Post in a phone interview.

And, as it turns out, Semmel himself could have gotten the virus at Yankees camp. The first professional baseball player to contract the disease, Denny Larrondo, was his catch partner.

Semmel, given the severity of the situation, decided to raise money for Stamford Health’s COVID-19 Pandemic Response Fund, using his Twitter account to promote. “It’s my hometown,” Semmel said. “I feel like it’s the right thing to do.”

He wasn’t around in Yankees’ camp when the first positive test came out

Semmel experienced a blessing in disguise when the scout who signed him, Kelly Rodman, died of cancer and he asked the Yankees permission to leave camp to go to her funeral.

“The first time I saw Kelly was during my sophomore year of my high school,” Semmel said. “She was actually watching one of my buddies on the high school team and she noticed me.”

Semmel had Tommy John surgery his junior year, and the Post said that when he returned for his senior season, Rodman showed up again. “Kelly called me every week, asking, ‘How’s your arm healing?’” he said. “She was there with me the whole ride.” After the draft, Semmel continued, “She would call me every other day, telling me to sign with the Yankees,” which he did.

“I really had a close relationship with her,” Semmel said of Rodman. “She changed my life by drafting me, She meant everything to me.”

The fact that he went away from camp to attend the services meant that he wasn’t around when Larronfo tested positive.