Curtis Blaydes Claims UFC Is Protecting Derrick Lewis With Alexander Volkov Matchup

Alexander Volkov, UFC

The UFC has a competitive top half of the rankings right now in the heavyweight division and the race to the top will definitely be impacted by the matchup between Curtis Blaydes and Alexander Volkov that’s set for June 20th.

Interestingly, however, Blaydes believes that being placed against the seventh ranked heavyweight and the winner of seven of the last eight fights is actually a move that sells him short to an extent. According to Blaydes, his skills are good enough to destroy currently fourth ranked Derrick Lewis, who Blaydes says that the UFC wants to protect.

“After I beat Junior, I knew it was going to be Volkov. I knew they weren’t going to give me Derrick Lewis. They don’t want him to lose, and they know if they gave him me, I would destroy him, so I knew he was off the table. I knew it had to be Volkov, so as soon as it was offered, I said yes,” Blaydes said to MMA Junkie.

While Volkov has had an impressive run of results since entering the UFC, Blaydes also has an impressive record of his own – only two career losses and one no-contest, with both of the losses coming at the hands of Francis Ngannou. There’s no shame, of course, in losing to Ngannou. The hard hitting heavyweight is currently the number two contender and has already fought for title title himself, losing to current champion Stipe Miocic.

While Blaydes believes he deserves a fight with Lewis, he also hasn’t dismissed his current opponent.

“I respect every opponent. I know he’s got skills. I know he’s efficient in striking, but I also know he’s not the best grappler in the world. I know he’s not the caliber grappler I am, and I believe I have the better conditioning,” he continued.

Blaydes may just get the fight he’s looking for with Lewis in the future, but that defends on a win against Volkov, who is a tough challenger in his own right. It won’t take long, though, for the final result to be determined – Blaydes and Volkov are set to fight on the 20th at the UFC APEX facility, as the headliners for UFC on ESPN 11.

MLB: Did Rob Manfred threaten the season as part of a negotiation tactic?

Earlier this week, things were headed deep south for the MLB. Commissioner Rob Manfred came out saying that a 2020 season was “not likely”, and it was assumed that the season would eventually be canceled.

But here we are just a few days later, with negotiations in another life. We could finally see a deal within a few days. Could Rob Manfred have threatened the 2020 season as part of a negotiation tactic?  I think that he probably did in attempt to get the players to cave and accept less money. There is no way that we magically go from “likely no season” to “a deal nearing completion” in a few days.

The MLB offered the players association 60 games with prorated salaries, an expanded postseason, and a universal DH. As happy as players were to see prorated salaries, they decided that they want more games. They sent back basically the same proposal, but with 10 more games. From what we hear, owners aren’t too excited about that. They want to end the regular season by September to beat a second coronavirus wave and keep postseason TV dates in place.

So, maybe we see a compromise with a season of 65 games. It will still be an extraordinarily short season, but more meaningful than a 50 game season. The sport needs the season to happen, or else they will lose even more fans.

But, going back to what Manfred said on Monday; I think that he said what he said in a last ditch effort to avoid prorated salaries. Once they saw the level of disgust between the players after the statement, they finally had to cave and offer prorated salaries. I certainly don’t know for sure, and we may never know. That’s just my guess from what we already know.

Why The New York Giants Should Extend Dalvin Tomlinson

New York Giants, Dalvin Tomlinson

The New York Giants are building one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. Dave Gettleman has invested plenty of assets into the front line of defense since taking over as general manager in 2018. Gettleman has invested the following into the defensive line: 2018 third-round pick, 2018 seventh-round pick, 2019 first-round pick, 2019 seventh-round pick, 2020 third-round pick, 2021 fifth-round pick, $16.1 million franchise tag.

Granted, this investment has paid off. The Giants have an excellent defensive line and it is the strongest unit on the roster. Interestingly, though, the one defensive lineman that Gettleman did not acquire himself is actually the best on the team: 2017 second-round pick Dalvin Tomlinson.

Dalvin Tomlinson Stats and Highlights

In 2019, third-year defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson had a career-year. Tomlinson saw his stats double upon the arrival of defensive end Leonard Williams. In 2019, Dalvin recorded 49 combined tackles, a career-high 7 tackles for loss, and a career-high 3.5 sacks, 13 pressures, and 7 quarterback hits.

Dalvin Tomlinson has not recorded a single penalty in his entire career. He is a disciplined, reliable defender that makes life difficult for opposing linemen and running backs. Another testament to Tomlinson’s reliability is his missed tackle rate. Dalvin only missed 3 tackles in 2019, a missed tackle rate of only 5.8%. In 2018 he was even more consistent, missing just one tackle (1.7%). On top of that, Tomlinson has never missed a game in his career.

Dalvin Tomlinson’s Contract

Entering his fourth season, the Giants will soon need to make a decision regarding Dalvin Tomlinson’s contract. He was a second-round pick so they do not have a fifth-year option on his contract. The Giants will need to decide whether or not to extend Tomlinson after the 2020 season.

Dalvin Tomlinson has been the most consistent and efficient defender on the Giants for the past three years. He absolutely deserves a contract extension and the Giants cannot afford to let him walk. The Giants might have depth on the defensive line, but Tomlinson is arguably their best defender. At only 26 years-old, Dalvin is someone the Giants should lock in for the long haul.

BREAKING: New York Jets S Jamal Adams requests a trade (Report)

New York Jets, Jamal Adams

Adams once again voiced his displeasure with his current contract situation and now has reportedly requested a trade from the New York Jets.

Per ESPN’s Rich Cimini, New York Jets safety Jamal Adams has requested a trade, reportedly doing so on Thursday.

This marks yet another turn in the roller-coaster saga between Adams and the Jets, one that was spinning on Thursday even before reports of the safety’s request emerged.

Adams returned to an Instagram post released by Bleacher Report’s NFL page (@brgridiron) that featured the concept of Cleveland Browns defender and fellow 2017 draftee Myles Garrett receiving a long-term deal this offseason. Last week, Adams commented on the post, remarking that Garrett’s potential big deal was “well deserved” and added “I can’t even get my first proposal that they said they would send over in January…I was called ‘selfish’ tho [sic]! Lol A lot of talk no action #StayWoke.”

In his Thursday return to the post, Adams made his intentions clear in a response to a fan, who indicated that not even defending Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, another 2017 draft pick, has received a long-term deal from the Kansas City Chiefs yet.

“I deserve to be paid but when I ask to be taking [sic] care of I’m ‘BEING THAT GUY’ huh?” Adams said.

Only pick from 2017’s first round, Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, has earned a new deal beyond his rookie contract, having inked a four-year, $64 million extension in April. Such a deal made him the highest-paid running back in NFL history.

Adams referenced both Mahomes and McCaffrey in his Thursday discourse.

“Pat is about to get 40 to 60 (million) a year. Well deserved. But don’t compare me to QB’s if you aren’t paying me QB money. (Expletive), if I was about to get 40 plus u [sic] wouldn’t hear a damn word from me,” he said. “CM22 got paid not too long ago. Well deserved. Great friend of mine.”

“Ima [sic] protect myself just like an organization will look out for themselves at the end of the day & if you guys don’t respect that, cool.”

“It’s all luv [sic]. Maybe it’s time to move on!”

Jets management has been quiet about getting Adams a long-term deal, save for general manager Joe Douglas declaring back at February’s NFL Scouting Combine that preliminary talks had been held and that the goal was to make Adams “a Jet for life”. Cimini indicated that the Jets currently have no plans to give in to Adams’ request, but hints Adams could hold out of training camp.

It has been theorized that Adams wishes to become the highest-paid safety in football. The label currently belongs to Chicago’s Eddie Jackson ($14.6 million a year).

[UPDATE: 6:15 p.m. ET] Adam Schefter, also of ESPN, has revealed seven destinations on Adams’ wish list. The Dallas Cowboys, per Schefter, have reentered the fold after being involved in rumors around last season’s trade deadline. With the exception of the Cowboys, each of the teams on Adams’ list reached the 2019-20 NFL playoffs.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

UFC: Matt Frevola off UFC on ESPN 11 after cornerman’s positive COVID-19 test

UFC, Matt Frevola

One of the fights on the under card for this Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 11 has been changed. Frank Camacho (22-8) was originally scheduled to take on Matt Frevola (8-1-1), however that fight has been scrapped due to a cornerman testing positive for COVID-19.

The UFC announced today that Frevola would be pulled from Saturday’s card after cornerman and fellow fighter, Billy Quarantillo, testing positive for COVID-19. It’s a really tough break for Frevola who was going for his third straight win in the UFC. Frevola tested negative twice for COVID-19, but due to the UFC‘s strict policy, he has been pulled off the card. Frevola is the second fighter to be pulled off a card due to COVID-19.

When the UFC comes knocking, you answer the door

Stepping in for Frevola is Justin Jaynes (15-4). Jaynes will be making his UFC in his fight against Camacho. Jaynes comes into this fight 9-1 in his last 10 appearances. In looking at some tape, Jaynes has a really solid overall game. He’s got some good submission skills, and he’s got some pretty good striking. His last four fights have all ended in the first round, although one of those was by disqualification. There’s not a ton of tape out there on Jaynes, but check out the video below to get a little more background on this weekend’s replacement fighter at UFC on ESPN 11.

New York Yankees: The best nine pitcher at-bats in team history

The New York Yankees’ are minimally impacted by the potential universal DH, but pitchers at the plate have produced some memorable moments.

When it comes to the New York Yankees and a universal designated hitter, they’re ones that more than likely would have no qualms with such a concept.

As Major League Baseball and its players continue to make little progress in the quest to open the 2020 season, one of the conditions that have emerged from a potential deal is the arrival of a DH coming to both the American and National Leagues. AL baseball has employed such a position since 1973, while the NL has continued to put a pitcher in the batter’s box. If and when baseball makes its return, that concept will likely go the way of the World Series day game.

The Yankees, forced to employ the concept of a pitcher at the plate during their visits to NL parks since the 70s, have seen the ugly side of the concept with injuries to starters Chien-Ming Wang and Masahiro Tanaka coming on the basepaths. Not everything has been all bad though, as ESM looks back on a starting lineup of fine at-bats from pinstriped pitchers…

(Photo by George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)

9/18/30: Seeing Red…Twice

Red Ruffing reached Monument Park and Cooperstown thanks to his exploits on the mound. But, on a team that featured sluggers like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, it was Ruffing that came up big during a September 1930 matchup with the St. Louis Browns. The right-hander had an uncharacteristically bad day at the mound (7 IP, 5 ER, 10 H), but he hit two home runs, ones that allowed the Yankees to go into extra innings in what became a 7-6 victory at Sportsman’s Park.

6/17/36: Deja Vu All Over A-Red

Not to be outdone, Ruffing duplicated his feat of, well, duplicate home runs during a 1936 visit to Cleveland. His offensive contributions weren’t as necessary this time around, but Ruffing nonetheless produced two solo shots in a 15-4 win over the Indians. This time around, though, he complimented his performance with a strong outing on both sides, as he threw a complete game in the first half of a doubleheader at League Park.

7/26/40: “Could I BE More Impactful?”

There’s playing an impactful role in a victory and then there’s what Spud Chandler did in a July 1940 win at Comiskey Park. Not only did he throw a complete game, but he also drove in six runs in the Yankees’ 10-2 victory. The coup de grace came when Chandler crushed a grand slam in the final inning. To date, Chandler is the most recent…and perhaps final…Yankees pitcher to hit two home runs in a single game.

9/27/72: Going in Style

The implementation of the original, AL-exclusive designated hitter came in 1973, eliminating most, if not all, offensive dreams Yankee pitchers may have had. Steve Kline helped the concept of pinstriped pitchers at the regular season plate go out in style with a two-hit game in a crucial showdown in Detroit. He would come in to score on an RBI single by Bobby Murcer, giving the Yankees a 3-0 lead. Alas, it appeared to go all downhill once Kline’s special day ended. After seven shutout innings, he let up four in the eighth before being lifted for Sparky Lyle. The Tigers erased a 5-0 lead to earn a 6-5 walk-off, part of a stretch that removed the Yankees from AL pennant contention. Kline’s performance for naught was the last multi-hit game for a pinstriped pitcher until Mike Mussina accomplished the feat in a 2002 visit to San Diego.

9/28/72: A Roar at Tiger Stadium

Heartbreak awaited the 1972 Yankees in the form of five straight losses to end the year. Their final win, however, left just enough room for some more pitcher-at-the plate heroics. Having taken over for Mel Stottlemyre after six innings, Lindy McDaniel took Detroit ace Mickey Lolich deep for a home run in the top of the ninth, giving the Yankees a 2-1 lead. While the Yankees let the gift up almost immediately…a Rusty Torres error allowed Detroit to tie the game before Roy White won it for the Yankees in the 12th…McDaniel became the last Yankee reliever to drive in a run for nearly three decades, as Mike Stanton finally pulled off the feat in a win over Montreal in 2000.

6/16/01: The Moose Is Loose

If you’re a Mets fan, now is perhaps a good time to check ESM’s plethora of Amazin’ content. Some of the more recent moments when it comes to pitchers at the plate have come during the Subway Series. The Mets have had such moments as well (shoutout to Shawn Estes and Dae-Sung Koo), but the AL’s Yankees have more of a reason to celebrate thanks to the presumably former exclusivity. Mussina’s 2001 season was strong as it was (17-11, 3.15 ERA, 214 strikeouts), and that was on full display during a bout in Flushing. He drove in his own winning run in the second inning, following up a Bernie Williams solo shot with an RBI single that put the Yankees up 2-0. With his only flaw on the afternoon being the allowance of a Robin Ventura home run, Mussina was able to outduel Kevin Appier over 7.1 innings for a narrow victory.

6/28/03: A Lasting Impression

1998 draft pick Brandon Claussen made but one appearance in a Yankee uniform, but the 34th-rounder certainly made the most of hit. Called upon to pitch the second, Queens-based half of a crosstown doubleheader with the Mets, Claussen not only lasted 6.1 innings in his first career start (outdueling Tom Glavine in a 9-8 win), but he also drove in the last part of a five-run fifth inning on an RBI single at Shea Stadium. Despite his brevity, Claussen is part of a major footnote in Yankee history. Just over a month after his Yankee cameo, he and fellow minor league pitcher Charlie Manning were dealt to Cincinnati at the trade deadline. New York’s haul in return? Aaron Boone.

6/28/09: Gotta Go to Mo

The only thing rarer than a Marino Rivera blown save was a Mariano Rivera at-bat. Rivera visited home plate countless times to meet his catcher after locking down a win, but only held a bat on four occasions. Two of them came during the 2009 season. Four days after flying out to center in a win over Atlanta, Rivera came into close out the Mets at Citi Field in four-out fashion after Brian Bruney got into trouble with a 3-2 lead. After striking out Omir Santos with David Wright in scoring positon, Rivera came to the plate to face fellow New York closer Francisco Rodriguez, who intentionally walked Derek Jeter to get to him. With the eyes of New York upon him and the bases loaded with pinstripes, the closers engaged in a battle of wills in Queens. Rivera won out, walking on a full count to drive in Melky Cabrera, helping his own cause with an insurance run and a 4-2 lead. More history awaited Rivera in his normal half of the ninth, as he went on to earn the 500th save of his illustrious career with a scoreless ninth.

10/31/09: Andy’s Dandy, Momentum-Shifting Single

Things were getting spooky for the Yankees on Halloween. Any momentum sought to be gained in their 2009 World Series tilt with the Philadelphia Phillies after A.J. Burnett’s shutdown performance in Game 2 was about to go by the wayside in Game 3. Three runs in the third helped the defending champions build a 3-2 lead in front of a home crowd at Citizens Bank Park near the midway mark. Nick Swisher led off the Yankee half of the fifth with a double off Cole Hamels, who subsequently struck out Cabrera. Hope for a rally seemed to be at its end with Andy Pettitte due up, but the lefty instead put momentum in the New York corner for good. Pettitte’s single to center on Hamels’ first pitch would score Swisher, tying the game and driving in the only postseason run of his career. He would later score alongside Jeter on a Johnny Damon double, tallying the run that gave the Yankees the lead for good. Pettitte later earned the win (his third of the 2009 postseason) and went six innings as the Yankees took home an 8-5 decision. They later stole a second win in Philadelphia before clinching their most season Fall Classic in The Bronx four nights later.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Mets: Marcus Stroman attended youth baseball practice in Tampa and had a blast

New York Yankees, New York Mets, Marcus Stroman

The entire baseball universe is waiting to see if MLB and the union can hammer out a deal for our favorite sport to return at some point in 2020. And while the two sides are certainly closer now than three or four days ago, no deal is imminent. The New York Mets, as well as every other team, are still waiting to see if they start preparing their bags to go to spring training 2.0 or if they stay home.

While several players are resting at their respective houses and others are training, New York Mets’ pitcher Marcus Stroman took advantage of the extra time to give back to the community.

Earlier this week, specifically on Tuesday, Stroman had volunteered to stop by and offer instruction at any youth, high school or even college baseball practices located in the Tampa area. He was true to his word, as he went off with that goal in mind on Wednesday.

The righty, entering a contract year with the Mets, joined the Tampa Heat 9u team on Wednesday. The pictures of the event portrayed him addressing the group and pitching in with his experience from the mound.

“Loved every moment out there with y’all. Thank you for having me,” Stroman tweeted. “Hope y’all can take something out of today that will better your tomorrow!”

“Seeing those smiles… nothing beats that!” Stroman said in another tweet. It’s not the first time Stroman is involved in activities like that one, and it probably won’t be the last either.

Stroman and his Mets’ future

The 2020 season could be the last one Stroman pitches with the Mets, unless he and the team can agree to a contract extension.

The righty is scheduled to hit free agency after the season ends, if there is one of course.

Last year, Stroman started 11 games for the Mets, with a 3.77 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP in 59.2 frames. In 184.1 innings between New York and Toronto, he had a 53.7 ground-ball percentage, the fourth-best mark in the league in 2019.

The New York Yankees sign a couple of college outfielders

New York Yankees

As MLB and the players’ association keep negotiating a possible major league baseball season in 2020, the New York Yankees are wasting no time in securing young talent for their farm system. This week, the team signed five college right-handed pitchers, and on Thursday, the Bombers announced deals with two college outfielders.

The MLB Draft took place last week, but it was atypical, as it lasted only five rounds. That’s why the undrafted free agency pool is so big, and the Yankees are taking advantage of the talent available.

The New York Yankees agreed to terms with Indiana University outfielder Elijah Dunham and University of Nebraska outfielder Aaron Palensky as non-drafted free agents, according to Bryan Hoch.

Dunham reportedly told the Evansville (Ind.) Courier & Press that he was persuaded into signing a professional contract with the Yankees after talking with general manager Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone via Zoom.

“I thought for an undrafted free agent, this was a lot of effort,” Dunham told the newspaper on Wednesday. “I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity of being a Yankee.”

The Yankees are getting two advanced bats

Dunham is already 22, so he is advanced for a prospect and, theoretically, should move up fast through the ladder.

He started all 15 games that took place before COVID-19 halted things in his junior season with the Hoosiers. He excelled with the bat, hitting .390 with seven doubles, one homer, 11 RBIs, 12 runs scored and a sterling .493 on-base percentage.

Palensky will turn 22 in three months and became one of the Cornhuskers’ best performers. In 15 games, he batted .302 with five doubles and four round-trippers.

“[The Yankees] showed some seriously high interest and I felt like they have a lot to offer in terms of player development,” Palensky told the Omaha World-Herald. “I really felt like I could elevate my game there and felt it was the best route I could take to give myself a chance to make it to the big leagues.”

Breaking News: Players Union counters MLB proposal with more games, MLB says No

New York Yankees fans were encouraged by Manfred’s statement that led baseball lovers everywhere to believe a baseball deal had been accomplished, and the only thing left was a union vote approving the deal.  But as the evening progressed, a letter from players union executive director Tony Clark was released stating: citing “a number of significant issues with what [MLB Manfred] proposed” and stated, “there certainly were no tentative agreements reached.”

With the sides constantly disagreeing on issues now, they don’t seem to be able to agree on whether an agreement has been reached. However, there is more optimism today than a few days ago when Clark said that further negotiations would be futile. With yesterday’s MLB announcement, I was hoping to be writing about a start to the season this morning, but It appears the sides are closer together to make that happen to provide some hope of an MLB season. The supposed agreement could be a jump start that has been needed.

A jump start it was as the players union came back quickly in less than 24 hours with a counter compromise.  The players are proposing a 70 game season •Clubs granted permission to sell advertisements/patches on uniforms in 2020/2021 •Enhanced housing allowances in spring training and regular season •DH in 2020 and 2021 •Parties to collaborate on broadcast enhancements •Mutual waiver of grievances.

But in less than an hour, the owners are not responding positively to player’s counterproposal. Owners believed they’d had a meeting of the minds, and the number was 60 games. They are calling the counterproposal “Dead on Arrival.”

Union also seeking loan forgiveness for certain categories of lesser-paid players from $170M advance that was part of March agreement, source says. MLB offered to forgive $33M in the last proposal, but that was with a 60-game season.  A meeting of the minds may be close at hand.  Progress certainly is being made.  Stay with EmpireSportsMedia.com for all the updated information.

Federal judge deems Yankees’ argument to keep letter sealed “unpersuasive”

New York Yankees

Last week, the New York Yankees made the news after it was leaked that they could be involved in a sign-stealing scheme, after reports surfaced that commissioner Rob Manfred sent a letter to Brian Cashman that, according to the team, could cause “significant reputational injury.”

The Yankees want to keep the letter unsealed but their argument that it would cause “significant reputational injury” has been deemed “unpersuasive” by a federal judge, according to the New York Post.

It all comes from a lawsuit filed by DraftKings bettors that say the letter has new information besides what was disclosed during Manfred’s 2017 press release about the Yankees sign-stealing. District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff recently said the letter should be unsealed because of the team’s “inconsistent arguments.’’

That prompted a legal response from the Yankees and MLB in the form of an appeal, but it won’t be enforced until a ruling from the Court of Appeals.

“The New York Yankees appreciate the judge’s decision to maintain the letter under seal pending appeal and look forward to being heard by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals,’’ the Yankees said in a statement.

Rakoff thinks the letter should be unsealed.

Were the Yankees involved in sign stealing?

“Although the MLB defendants had earlier argued that the letter was wholly in accord with the Commissioner’s public statement and now argued that release of the letter would harm the Yankees’ reputation, these mutually inconsistent arguments, as well as other arguments offered by the MLB defendants and the Yankees, were unpersuasive,” Rakoff wrote. “Indeed, one might be tempted to conclude that there is no justification for keeping the letter sealed.”

Sources said Ken Davidoff that the letter, which was written after an investigation launched of the Red Sox “AppleWatchGate” scandal, details a couple of offenses related to sign-stealing, including the Bombers improperly using a dugout phone before 2017, as well as Yankees players using the replay room to steal and relay signs to runners on second in 2015 and 2016.

DraftKings thinks the Yankees were part of a “more serious, sign-stealing” scheme than the league disclosed. Manfred, however, wrote in 2017 that while the Yankees had “violated a rule governing the use of the dugout phone,” the “substance of the communications [over the phone] was not a violation.”