New York Giants Training Camp Start Is On For July 28th

New York Giants, Olsen Pierre

Earlier in the offseason, there was plenty of talk about whether or not the New York Giants and the NFL at large would be able to hold training camp. The team joined the rest of the league in shutting down its facilities due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the Giants have only recently gotten back to reopening. The players haven’t convened again yet and so far, it’s just been front office members and support staff to show back up at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

However, according to recent news from CBS Sports, training camp proper is set to begin next month, towards the end of July. Additionally, it’s been reported that the preseason will happen as scheduled and there will indeed be fans in the stands.

As it stands today and according to the freshly minted CBA, the Steelers and Cowboys will be the first to report to camp by July 22, followed by the Texans and Chiefs on July 25 and then the 28 other teams on July 28. Thirty teams will play four preseason games while Pittsburgh and Dallas will play five (including the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio) and there will be fans in the stands. And then 2020 NFL regular season kicks off in Arrowhead Stadium on Sept. 10 and the league has a season uninterrupted by COVID-19.

The presence of fans at the games may be surprising to some, as it’s been unconfirmed until now whether or not the league would make that jump this quickly. However, there is a strong incentive for it to happen – ticket sales make up a large percentage of the profits in the sports world, and getting fans back in seats as quickly as possible is needed to maintain the health of the league economically.

Training camp will be the first time when the new staff led by head coach Joe Judge meets the new additions from both free agency and the draft, including high profile cornerback James Bradberry and fourth overall draft pick Andrew Thomas.

Following that, the Giants have four preseason games scheduled: against the Jets, Titans, Packers, and Patriots. While there’s been talk of a shortened preseason, that doesn’t seem to be the case currently, as the Giants will still play the full schedule including their traditional matchups against the Jets and Patriots. But whether that holds up may just depend on the coming months and how the reopening of the country at large goes during that span.

Nets’ Kyrie Irving leads inspiring phone call to question NBA’s plan for return

Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving

On Friday evening, Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving led a conference-call of 80+ NBA and WNBA players about potentially not playing again this season. These would be due to the coronavirus risks and to protest the racial injustices taking place in the United States

“I don’t support going into Orlando,” said Irving on the call. “I’m not with the systematic racism and the bulls**t. Something smells a little fishy.”

Sources say that other outspoken players included Carmelo Anthony of the Trailblazers and Chris Paul of the Thunder. The WNBA players in the call are reportedly willing to back the NBA players and follow suit in their league. The WNBA just submitted a return to play proposal to the players, entailing a 22-game season with full pay.

“I’m willing to give up everything I have (for social reform),” added Irving in the call.

From what sources have heard, a lot of players respect Irving for this and would potentially follow suit and sit out. One player told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that “he’s trying to give players a platform to be able to have a discussion — on the bubble, racial equality and unity…It’s a good call.”

Throughout the past week, the NBA was finalizing their plans to return to play at Disney World in Orlando. But with the racial injustices and rising coronavirus cases in Florida, players are having second thoughts. If players ultimately decide that they do not want to play the rest of the season, then the season would just be outright canceled. From there, we would likely see a somewhat normal offseason, but we aren’t to that point yet.

MLB: Players Association quickly vetoes new proposal

On Friday, the MLB sent over yet another proposal to the Players Association about the intentions of the 2020 season. Once again, it didn’t take very long for players to reject the offer.

The proposal entailed a 72-game season with a start date of July 14th and an end date of September 27th. With coronavirus concerns, the league doesn’t want to end the regular season any later than that. The players want to play the regular season into October, but that likely won’t happen.

As you could probably imagine, the players rejected the offer due to the lack of full prorated salaries. In this proposal, players would receive 70% of prorated salaries if no postseason due to coronavirus, and 80% of prorated salaries if there is a postseason. The postseason would include 16 teams if played. The first round would be a best-of-three, followed by the traditional Divisional Series, Championship Series, and World Series.

Time is quickly running out for the two sides to strike a deal. If a deal isn’t made within a few days, it could risk Commissioner Rob Manfred intervening and implementing a shortened season. A shortened season could be anywhere between 48-to-60 games, as long as prorated salaries are being honored.

If Manfred does indeed have to intervene, things could get even uglier. According to Bob Nightengale, a season with less than 60-games could see the Players Association file a grievance to the league.

The negotiations are steering fans away from baseball and hurting the sport. Owners need to realize this and come up with a reasonable deal for the players. This could really hurt the sport in the long run, no matter how the 2020 season is played.

New York Giants Possess NFL’s Fastest Offense

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

In the NFL, speed kills. Luckily for the New York Giants, they have plenty of speed on offense.

The new-look New York Giants are heading into the 2020 NFL season with a new coaching staff. The roster, however, has stayed pretty much intact. The Giants rebuilt their offensive line this offseason but they did not add much to their skill positions. The offense, led by second-year quarterback Daniel Jones, will feature the likes of Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, and others who were on the roster in 2019.

Recently, NFL Network Analyst Daniel Jeremiah did a study on offenses in the NFL. Jeremiah took the 40-yard dash times for every team in the league and projected their lineup in 11 personnel (1RB, 1TE & 3WR) for the 2020 season. He then ranked each team’s offense by their average 40-yard dash times.

The New York Giants came out on top in this study with the fastest offense in the NFL, based on average 40-yard dash times. At 4.42s, New York was a few ticks ahead of the competition, even proving to be faster than Tyreek Hill and the dangerous Kansas City Chiefs offense.

The Giants’ 40-Yard Dash Times

There are some true speedsters on the Giants’ offense. Darius Slayton ran a 4.39s 40-yard dash, Golden Tate ran it in 4.42s, and Sterling Shepard’s 40 time was 4.48s. Saquon Barkley, of course, lit up the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine. There he posted a 4.40s 40-yard dash time. The one player, however, that likely separates the Giants’ offense from the rest of the league is Evan Engram. Engram ran a ridiculously fast 4.42s 40-yard dash in 2017, the second-fastest time ever from a tight end.

It will be exciting to see the Giants’ offense get to work in 2020. They have the speed to burn defenses and, now, the offensive scheme to move the football with Jason Garrett. Daniel Jones has plenty of weapons to drop dimes to next season and he will for years to come.

The New York Yankees are “excited” with their three drafted players

New York Yankees

While it was a very peculiar draft to begin with, New York Yankees‘ man in charge when it comes to the draft Damon Oppenheimer seems to have walked away a happy man after what the team was able to select.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused teams to alter their draft strategy, and the Yankees were no exception. Traveling and, therefore, live scouting wasn’t possible in the last few months, so there were a lot of video hours, Internet and Zoom calls.

All in all, the New York Yankees had three selections, and they made the best of them. They took slugging catcher Austin Wells from the University of Arizona as the 28th overall pick. On Day 2, they selected second baseman Trevor Hauver from Arizona State University in the third round (99th overall). And in the fourth round (129th overall), they chose right-hander Beck Way from Northwest Florida State College.

“It was really quick, only being able to select three players, but we’re excited,” Oppenheimer said. “We think we did really good with these three guys.”

The Yankees have until August 1 to sign those players.

There are harsh penalties for teams that outspend their allotment, so the Yankees need to tread carefully.

What’s next for the Yankees?

According to MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch, Wells said he sees himself signing quickly and there are no expectations that Hauver and Way will have signability issues. The Yankees’ bonus pool was $3,520,000. The assigned slot values for the Yanks’ picks were $2,493,900 (No. 28), $587,400 (No. 99) and $438,700 (No. 129).

Wells and Hauver are excellent offensive performers with questions about their glove and long-term position.

“In general, position players get gobbled up in the Draft,” Oppenheimer said. “They go off the board pretty quick and the impactful ones, a lot of times, are the guys that you’re able to take up high. This Draft had some depth in pitching, so we thought, ‘If we’re going to get a shot at a position player, then let’s take a shot and see if we can get the some of the pitching to fall down to us.’”

As for Way, Oppenheimer said the Yankees will be hoping he keeps improving after his Cape Cod League showing, in which he impressed with a loose, high-speed fastball that reached the high-90s.

“There’s more in the tank with this guy when we get him in our strength and conditioning program with (performance coach Eric) Cressey and the boys,” Oppenheimer said. “There’s just a lot of room for growth.”

See how the rest of the New York Mets’ draft went after Crow-Armstrong and Ginn

The New York Mets took premium center fielder Pete Crow-Armstrong with their first pick of the Draft, and with their second selection, they grabbed pitcher J.T. Ginn. But what about the rest of the draft?

Here is what they took:

Compensation pick, 69th overall: Isaiah Greene, OF, Corona HS (Calif.)

Greene is far from the majors, but he is very talented, and a worthwhile gamble for the Mets. They took him with the compensation pick they got after Zack Wheeler departed via free agency for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Greene has very good speed and a strong, reliable throwing arm. He is only 18 years old. Vice president of amateur scouting Tommy Tanous said to MLB.com that “you don’t have to see him play too much to not be impressed with both his hit tool and his secondary tools. He is a really, really impressive kid.”

Third round, 91st overall: Anthony Walters, SS, San Diego State

Anthony Walters is a shortstop that didn’t have a particularly good season (.271 with a .689 OPS in 16 games for the Aztecs.) It is possible that the New York Mets try to sign him to an under-slot deal to save money for Ginn.

Fourth round, 120th overall: Matthew Dyer, C, University of Arizona

The Mets have several catchers in the system, but it never hurts to add more. Dyer can also play some other positions, including first base, second base, third base and the outfield.

In the COVID-shortened season, he hit .220 with three home runs and 18 RBIs in 15 games. He wasn’t in MLB Pipeline’s top 200 draft prospects list.

Fifth round, 150th overall: Eric Orze, RHP, University of New Orleans

Hey, if Orze beat cancer (he was diagnosed in 2018,) why can’t he find a way to succeed as a major leaguer some day? The Mets are betting on his talent and heart. Once he came back from his recovery, he had 17 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings for New Orleans.

Junior Dos Santos meets Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC 252

UFC 252 is going to be headlined by the UFC heavyweight title fight between champion, Stipe Miocic (19-3), and former champion, Daniel Cormier (22-2), but another big-time heavyweight matchup was just added to the card. Multiple reports have confirmed that former heavyweight champion, Junior dos Santos (21-7), will be meeting Jairzinho Rozenstruik (10-1) on August 15th.

A must-win for Cigano

In 2019, Dos Santos was closing in on another UFC title shot after he had gone on a three-fight winning streak. He was finally looking like the guy that we remember that knocked out Cain Velasquez years ago. He had back-to-back knockouts over Tai Tuivasa and Derrick Lewis to put him prime shape to get a title shot. Unfortunately for Cigano, he ran into Francis Ngannou. Ngannou put Dos Santos out in the first round. Following that loss, Dos Santos was stopped by Curtis Blaydes back at UFC Fight Night 166. Dos Santos does not have any easy challenge in front of him next, and he’s desperate for a victory.

Rozenstruik looks to get back on track

Rozenstruik entered 2020 as a heavyweight prospect that everyone was talking about. “Bigi Boy” had won his first four UFC fights all by knockout including a knockout of Alistair Overeem which produced one of the worst cuts I’ve ever seen. Rozenstruik was riding high until he ran into the same problem that Dos Santos ran into, Francis Ngannou. Rozenstruik called out Ngannou after his last victory, and that proved to be a mistake. Ngannou knocked out Rozenstruik in just 20 seconds back at UFC 249. Rozenstruik will look to right this ship at UFC 252 against the former champion, Dos Santos.

Battle of Heavyweights at UFC 252

UFC 252 is going to be all about the heavyweights it appears. I cannot wait to see the trilogy conclude between Cormier and Miocic, and now I’m pumped for this matchup. I think one of these two men are going to get a stoppage, but I’m not ready to make a prediction just yet. Dana White teased this afternoon that some crazy fights were getting booked, and my guess is that this card will get even deeper as we get closer to August 15th.

UFC Announces fight cards for June 20th & 27th

UFC, Dana White

UFC President, Dana White, went on ESPN early this afternoon to confirm and announce the full cards for the planned UFC Fight Nights on June 20th and 27th. Both cards will be taking place at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. The June 20th card will be headlined by heavyweights, Curtis Blaydes (13-2) and Alexander Volkov (31-7). That fight was announced earlier this month. The June 27th card is being headlined by a highly anticipated lightweight matchup between Dustin Poirier (25-6) and Dan Hooker (20-8). Let’s dive into some of the fights that were confirmed by White this afternoon.

UFC Fight Night – June 20th

Next Saturday night, the UFC has a pretty stacked card that will air on ESPN and ESPN+. One of the fights that I’m looking forward to is the co-main event of the evening between featherweights Josh Emmett (15-2) and Shane Burgos (13-1). Both of these two men are finishers, and bring multiple fight winning streaks into the event. A win for either guy could net them a top-five opponent in the featherweight division. Emmett is one of the more powerful punchers in the featherweight division, so anytime he’s booked, you might get to see a highlight reel knockout.

Another fight that stands out on the main card is Jim Miller (31-14) and Roosevelt Roberts (10-1). That fight will kick-off the UFC’s main card on ESPN. A quick turn around for Roberts, as he just competed back on May 30th against Brok Weaver. If Roberts is able to take out the veteran, Jim Miller, you could see a ranking in his future. This fight is being fought at a catchweight of 160 pounds. There are several very solid fights on the card next Saturday, and you can view the entire fight card here.

UFC Fight Night – June 27th

A huge main event is scheduled for this fight night in the UFC’s lightweight division, but there are solid fights up and down the card. The card is not 100% complete, so there will be additional fights added to this card as we get closer to the 27th. One of the fights that has caught my eye is Aspen Ladd (9-1) taking on former title challenger, Sara McMann (12-5). Ladd suffered her first career loss at the hands of Germaine de Randamie, but bounced back big-time with a third round TKO victory over Yana Kunitskaya at UFC on ESPN 7. Ladd has really good grappling skills, but it’ll be interesting to see her go up against the Olympic silver medalist, McMann.

The co-main event of the evening should be action packed between the always entertaining, Mike “Platinum” Perry (13-6), and Mickey Gall (6-2). Look for Perry to fight with a ton of urgency in this one. Perry is coming into the night after going 1-3 in his last four fights. A win over a solid guy like Mickey Gall would really get him back on track. For Gall, he’s trying to win his second consecutive fight after he was finished by Diego Sanchez. More prelims will be added to the card, but you can view the card as is right here.

MLB News: Stories from all around baseball, “He dropped the ball,” Cora admits cheating, and more

Boston Red Sox, Alex Cora

This day in Yankee history – “He dropped the ball”

The New York Yankees have had hundreds of great games with great plays and walk-offs.  On this day in history with the Yankees trailing, 8-7, with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Mets’ Francisco Rodriguez gets Alex Rodriguez to hit a pop fly to Luis Castillo at second base. The pop-up should end the game, but Castillo drops the ball. Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira (running all the way from first base) both scores as the Yankees win a shocker, 9-8. It was the Yankees’ seventh walk-off win of the season. This just might give you some joy as there is still no baseball being played.

Alex Cora admits cheating, but it wasn’t a two-man show

Former MLB Red Sox manager and Astros bench coach Alex Cora is taking responsibility for his role in the sign-stealing saga, but he isn’t ready to shoulder all the blame.

Cora received a season-long suspension after the commissioner’s office found he played a pivotal role in the Astros’ sign-stealing scheme in 2017, the year they won the World Series. After the investigation, he lost his job with the Red Sox.

Cora, 44, told ESPN’s Marly Rivera that he deserved his punishment for his role in the Astros’ scheme, but he took umbrage with suggestions that he and Carlos Beltrán, the Astros’ designated hitter in his final season in the majors in 2017, were the driving forces behind it.

He said “it wasn’t a two-man show (Cora and Beltran) we all did it. And let me be very clear that I am not denying my responsibility because we were all responsible.”

As a side note:  Today the Yankees would have played the first game of a three-game series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Whitey For and wife celebrate 69 years!

Hall of Famer New York Yankee Whitey Ford and his wife Joan have been married for 69 years. Their wedding reception was a baseball fairytale. Six months after the Yankee left-hander won the deciding game of the 1950 World Series as a 21-year old rookie, and just before reporting to the Army after being drafted, Joan and he decided to get married in Brooklyn while the team played an exhibition game at Ebbets Field. On April 14, 1951, they had a small reception at Donahue’s on Steinway Street in Astoria.

The game ended before the reception did, so the team bus headed there, and Whitey’s teammates — players like Joe DiMaggio, Joe Page, and Tommy Henrich — arrived to toast the newlyweds. When Joan and Whitey found out that some of the players were still on the bus, too shy to attend the reception, they climbed on board to thank them, which is how Whitey met a rookie named Mickey Mantle. Little did they know that 23 years later, they would go into the Hall of Fame together.

What to MLB owners gain for a negotiated settlement?

• Expanded playoffs for the next two seasons, which the union offered in both its proposals but likely would nix if Manfred took unilateral action, even though players would stand to gain long-term from revenue that enabled the owners to reduce their losses.

• A baseline number of commitments the union proposed for broadcast enhancements, including in-game microphone usage and special programming away from the ballpark, and the possibility of an offseason Home Run Derby and All-Star Game.

• A potential resolution to the question of whether MLB players would maintain the right to pursue damages if they believed MLB failed to adequately fulfill its obligations to player health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

• The avoidance of a likely grievance by the union, which might accuse the league of not making a good-faith effort to play as many games as possible. The union would seek financial damages, and the process alone would be costly.

• A season long enough for the league to skirt criticism from fans and players that it settled for fewer games and less competitive integrity.

• A reduction in animosity with players – well, at least to some extent – as the parties prepare for collective-bargaining negotiations. The current CBA expires on Dec. 1, 2021.

Owners gains presented by Ken Rosenthal from The Atlantic.

MLB News: MLB presents yet another plan today to the players union, details

The New York Yankees fans and all the fans of the “boys of summer” are beginning to wonder if the two sides in the negotiations will ever come together in time for an MLB season.  The MLBPA (players union) accepted a proposal to accept a 50% pay cut for an 82 game season back in March.  In further negotiations after the coronavirus caused the shutdown to last beyond the original delay and owners found out the games would be held with no fans in the stands, they have constantly wanted the players to share in the loss over the original agreement.

The back and forth has gone on for several weeks with no progress.  The owners want less regular-season games to cut their losses.  The players want more games to increase their pay.  The players have cited the risk involved playing during the coronavirus pandemic.  MLB has bent over backward to address health concerns.  They presented a 67-page health initiative addressing everything from how many can be in the dugout to the players having to shower in hotels.  The plan also covered the extensive daily testing all team personnel would undergo.

The health plan was mostly accepted by the union with more refinements to be made before play resumes.  That leaves money as the stumbling block. Recently the players demanded a 114 game season.  The owners rejected that and came back with a threat- like 40 game season with players having to take massive cuts in pay, as much as a 75% reduction for the highest-paid players.

The players then wanted an 89 game season while earning the full pro-rata pay.  Constantly the players have rejected all the owner’s attempts to get them to share in losses. Today the owners are making an olive branch offer for 70-75 games with players receiving 80% of their pro-rata salaries.  The plan also calls for an expanded postseason. MLB also outlined the elimination of direct draft-pick compensation for free agents tagged with qualifying offers; teams losing top free agents would get a compensatory draft pick, but those signing such free agents would not be penalized by having to give up a top pick.

Also in the proposal is that the players will get a share of the playoff pool in the postseason. This new proposal being presented today according to ESPN’s Karl Ravecho is the third such offer this week.  All back and forth, while baseball fans just want to watch some baseball.  But time is quickly running out to have a viable season.  If an agreement acceptable to both sides can’t be reached, Commission Rob Manfred will most likely impose a season of a certain number of games starting on a certain date.  At that point, the players can accept it and move on to getting spring training 2.0 going, or they can reject it and go on strike.  Could we see 1994 all over again?

With the present situation in the country, the virus, the unemployment, and the unrest caused by racial injustice and police use of force, it’s a very different situation than that of 1994.  The country needs sports now for a diversion more than ever before. Both MLB and MLBPA needs to think about the fans and reputation of the game.  Damage has already been done; no season will not be soon forgiven.