New York Liberty to open 2020 WNBA proceedings (Full Schedule)

The New York Liberty’s opening matchup with the Seattle Storm will officially open WNBA proceedings in the Bradenton bubble.

The New York Liberty will help officially christen the WNBA bubble setup in Bradenton, Florida…affectionately referred to as the “Wubble” by participants and media…on July 25. New York’s 2020 debut will officially open the 2020 season, the WNBA’s 24th year of operation, as they take on the Seattle Storm.

Each of the league’s dozen squads is currently headquartered at IMG Academy preparing for a 22-game season. Games will take place on two courts set up at Feld Entertainment Center in nearby Palmetto. The Liberty’s tilt with Seattle will tip-off at noon Eastern Time and be televised nationally on ESPN. It is part of a WNBA tripleheader to open the season, with a Western Conference title between the Los Angeles Sparks and Phoenix Mercury following at 3 p.m. ET on ABC. Opening day proceedings wrap up with the defending champion Washington Mystics taking on the Indiana Fever two hours later.

The premiere showdown against Seattle will serve as the professional debut for Sabrina Ionescu, New York’s top overall pick of April’s WNBA Draft. Ionescu is one of six rookies on the Liberty roster, which also welcomes back All-Star Kia Nurse. Ionescu’s debut coincides with the return of Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird for Seattle. The pair were key factors behind the Storm’s 2018 WNBA Finals run, which saw Stewart earn seasonal MVP honors and Bird don her third championship ring. They both missed all of last season with injuries, their ailments relegating Seattle to a sixth-place finish in the standings. The Storm would top Minnesota in the playoff quarterfinals before falling to Los Angeles.

Other key dates for the Liberty include…

July 29 (Dallas)-The youngest teams in the WNBA will square off over 3,000 miles from the University of Oregon, the alma mater of Ionescu and Satou Sabally. Dallas’ top pick heard her name called minutes after her fellow former Duck as the second overall choice last spring.

August 5 (Minnesota)-The first of two matchups with the Lynx will be a nostalgic time for each team’s respective bench. Liberty head coach Walt Hopkins spent the past three seasons as a Minnesota assistant (winning the 2017 WNBA Finals). His seat has since been occupied by Naismith Hall-of-Famer Katie Smith, who spent the last seven years in the Liberty organization, the last two as head coach.

August 7 (Washington)-Traded to the Mystics this offseason, it remains to be seen if Tina Charles, the Liberty’s all-time leading scorer, as she awaits medical clearance to partake in Floridian proceedings. It will nonetheless be the first of two meetings with the defending WNBA champions.

August 20 (Chicago)-Another Oregon reunion awaits Ionescu, as the Sky chose Ruthy Hebard with the seventh overall pick in April.

August 29 (Las Vegas)-In addition to another get-together with former head coach Bill Laimbeer (who has gone 5-1 against New York since taking the Aces’ job in 2018), this game has added meaning as the WNBA’s network debut on CBS.

All put six games on the Liberty’s current schedule have earned a national window on the networks of ESPN and CBS. An updated schedule on the team’s YES Network flagship television station will be released at a later date.

Check out the full Liberty schedule below…

Date Opponent Time (ET) TV
July 25 Seattle 12 p.m. ESPN
July 29 Dallas 8 p.m. CBSSN
July 31 Atlanta 7 p.m. TBD
August 2 Phoenix 1 p.m. ESPN
August 5 Minnesota 7 p.m. CBSSN
August 7 Washington 7 p.m. ESPN2
August 9 Las Vegas 3 p.m. ESPN
August 11 Los Angeles 9 p.m. ESPN2
August 13 Indiana 6 p.m. TBD
August 15 Minnesota 6 p.m. CBSSN
August 18 Seattle 10 p.m. TBD
August 20 Chicago 7 p.m. CBSSN
August 22 Connecticut 4 p.m. CBSSN
August 25 Chicago 7 p.m. CBSSN
August 27 Dallas 8 p.m. CBSSN
August 29 Las Vegas 4 p.m. CBS
September 1 Connecticut 7 p.m. CBSSN
September 3 Atlanta 7 p.m. TBD
September 5 Phoenix 8 p.m. TBD
September 8 Los Angeles 7 p.m. CBSSN
September 10 Indiana 7 p.m. CBSSN
September 12 Washington 4 p.m. TBD

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

What Should The New York Giants Do With Nate Solder In 2020?

New York Giants, Nate Solder

The New York Giants made it an emphasis this offseason to improve their offensive line this offseason. The Giants spent three draft picks on offensive linemen in the 2020 NFL Draft. One of those picks was an offensive guard but their other two were both offensive tackles (Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart). In addition to those they drafted, the Giants also signed offensive tackle Cameron Fleming in free agency.

Now, with three more offensive tackles on the roster, the Giants have plenty of depth and options heading into the new season. But what will the team do with its starting left tackle from 2019? Nate Solder is due to make $19.5M this season. He was recently named the “most overrated player” in the NFL by CBS Sports. With all of these options at offensive tackle, what should the Giants do with Nate Solder and his huge contract in 2020?

Start Him At Left Tackle?

Of course, the Giants could keep Nate Solder around as their starting left tackle. This would provide continuity for Daniel Jones and continues to pay Solder for what he was signed to play. However, in my opinion, this would be a mistake.

The Giants should start Andrew Thomas at left tackle as soon as possible. Why should they move him to the right side of the offensive line for his rookie season if they plan to start him at left tackle for the rest of his career? This could stunt his development, but more importantly, it could stunt Daniel Jones’s development.

Nate Solder was one of the worst offensive tackles in the NFL in 2020. According to Pro Football Focus, Solder “allowed a league-high 56 pressures while ranking just 70th out of 89 qualifiers with a 52.9 run-blocking grade.” This could be compared to Andrew Thomas’s prolific collegiate career in which he surrendered a total of 37 total pressures on 1,075 pass-block snaps and “only nine total pressures during his third and final season with the Bulldogs.”

Andrew Thomas should play left tackle right away because he is arguably the best left tackle on the roster already, despite never playing a snap in the NFL. Protecting Daniel Jones is the most important task for the Giants’ offensive line. The Giants are not protecting Daniel Jones to the best of their abilities if Nate Solder is starting at left tackle in 2020.

Start Him At Right Tackle?

So if Nate Solder is a liability at left tackle, could they start him at right tackle instead? Would that be an improvement? Currently, the Giants’ group of left tackles if full of unknowns; Matt Peart and Nick Gates are young and unproven players. Cameron Fleming was signed during free agency, presumably to be the team’s right tackle this season. That was before the Giants drafted both Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart.

Now there seems to be a bit of a positional battle at right tackle. Nate Solder and Cameron Fleming are both strong candidates for the position as they both provide veteran experience. Nate Solder starting at right tackle would be better than him starting at left tackle because he would be in the quarterback’s field of vision. Having Solder on the blindside led to a number of Daniel Jones fumbles. Jones is a pretty mobile quarterback, so maybe he could get away from some of those sacks and pressures if he sees them before they get there.

Trade Or Cut?

The Giants should see how Nate Solder plays at right tackle in training camp and preseason. If his performance improves and he looks like the best right tackle on the roster, then the Giants should allow him to start the regular season at that position. However, if he is unable to win the starting right tackle job before the season begins, the Giant should consider moving on from the 9-year NFL veteran.

As previously stated, Solder has a cap hit of $19.5M this season. He also had a dead cap hit of $16M, however, that was his pre-June 1st dead cap hit. Post-June 1st, Solder’s dead cap hit is only $9.5M. So if the Giants cut or trade Nate Solder before the start of the 2020 NFL season, they will free up $10M in salary cap space. That money could then be reinvested to sign a new right tackle or a new cornerback, or the Giants could save the money.

Trading Nate Solder might prove to be a difficult task. Not a lot of teams are looking for a $19M left tackle who let up 56 pressures last season. The Giants will likely not have a market for Solder if they choose to trade him, but cutting him would be a cap-friendly decision. The move would also free up $14M in cap space in 2021.

The Giants’ offensive line should be much improved in 2020; especially if Nate Solder’s performance improves. But the most exciting thing about the Giants’ new offensive line is the depth that they possess. Even if Solder doesn’t improve this year, the Giants have options- and they have not had options in a long time.

Yankees’ Aaron Judge still strained by neck injury, Tanaka concern growing, update here

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

With just 10 days before the start of the regular season, the New York Yankees are trying to alleviate themselves of injury. The latest player to go down was Aaron Judge with a stiff neck, and he’s been receiving ample treatment the past two days.

Judge still remains strained by his sore neck, and he is unlikely to be ready for Tuesday’s intrasquad game. Starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka also remains a question mark as he recovers from concussion symptoms.

”He’s got way more range of motion,” manager Aaron Boone said Monday. ”They’ve gotten a lot of that pain out of there when he turns to the side and things like that.”

The expectation is that judge will return within the next few days, but nothing is cemented just yet. The 2017 AL Rookie of the Year has missed time due to oblique strains, a broken wrist, and a broken rib. Luckily, a majority of his injuries are broken-bone related, meaning it was more freak accidents then muscle issues.

Masahiro Tanaka is working his way back

Boone was confident in Tanaka’s progression, as he has been working on the field lightly as he climbs back from taking a 112 mph Giancarlo Stanton line drive off his head.

”Encouraged but again just also making sure we go slow and smartly with it,” Boone said. ”Obviously he’s not going to be built up very much. I’m kind of a step at a time right now with Masa. … Obviously with an extended roster there’s a little more flexibility there at the start, too, if we have to creatively build him up at some point.”

With the roster being extended from 26 to 30 players, the Yankees are taking it easy with Tanaka to ensure he can play adequately in the long run. Making sure he is 100% healthy and not facing any brain injuries and further symptoms is the right move. The concern is that Masa could miss Opening Day on July 23 and require more time to get into baseball shape since he’s missed the past few games.

New York Yankees’ Clint Frazier explains why he has been wearing a mask on the field

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

New York Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier has been the only player in the team to consistently wear a mask while performing all baseball activities, so far. According to what he explained to reporters during a conference call, he’s doing it to protect himself and his teammates during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Frazier, one of the Yankees’ brightest young players, says he wants to set an example and get more people to wear masks in the future.

“I’m going to try to do it as much as I can,” Frazier said. “Hopefully someone sees it and hopefully they do it too.”
Mike Trout, perhaps the game’s biggest star, is among the few big leaguers to wear a mask on the field.

Protecting the Yankees players and himself

Upon arriving to the New York Yankees’ training camp, Frazier showed up with a surgical mask but has then switched to a more comfortable, breathable one. He even wore it on the plate in Sunday’s intrasquad action and is also considering wearing it while patrolling the outfield.

The young thumper says that it hasn’t been hard at all, although he said it felt a little weird at the beginning. He explained he wants to wear it during the regular season.

“There’s a lot of people that have been impacted in a way” by the virus, Frazier said. “There are people in our organization that I’m trying to be respectful toward and I’m just trying to overall do the best part that I can and make sure that our team does stay healthy.”

So far, three members of the New York Yankees have been diagnosed with coronavirus: Aroldis Chapman, Luis Cessa and DJ LeMahieu.

“I want to make sure that I’m not the reason why it spreads to anybody and that I can play if it does get spread to someone else,” Frazier said.

New York Mets: Marcus Stroman about to enter the most important 60-game stretch of his life

New York Mets, Marcus Stroman

Anyone that has been around Marcus Stroman knows that he doesn’t lack confidence. In himself, in his teammates, and in his abilities, above all things. Now, the New York Mets‘ hurler is confident that all the training hours he invested during the quarantine will pay off.

Scheduled to be a free agent at the season’s end, Stroman knows that he will have to produce great numbers if he wants to earn the biggest possible contract. He is about to enter the most important 60-game stretch of his career so far.

When Marcus Stroman joined the Mets last summer, the returns were not initially strong. Over his first seven starts with his new team, he posted a 5.05 ERA with a .320 opponents’ batting average — numbers that the right-hander attributed to an adjustment period moving from Toronto to New York.

“I’ve been playing year-to-year my entire career, essentially, so I’m looking forward to being settled,” Stroman said. “I truly believe that I’m going to be an untapped potential once I’m truly settled and know I’m not going anywhere for that year. … I think that’s going to do wonders for my mind, my body, my pitching ability — everything. I truly believe my best years are ahead of myself.”

In 2019, he started 32 games and pitched 184.1 frames. He finished with a 3.22 ERA and a 3.72 FIP, good for 3.9 fWAR. He went from the Toronto Blue Jays to the New York Mets prior to the trade deadline.

Adjusting to life with the Mets

Upon arriving to New York, Stroman struggled in his first seven starts with the Mets, posting a 5.05 ERA with a .320 opponents’ batting average. He adjusted and was 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA in his last four turns.

The coronavirus pandemic halted baseball for three and a half months, but Stroman took advantage of the off time and focused on his body. Per MLB.com, he worked out at his home in Florida, he added arm strength long tossing in his front yard, he constructed a bullpen mound on the dock overlooking the water and had New York Mets teammate Dominic Smith as a training partner in his home gym. He also spent time in a hyperbaric chamber.

As a result, his confidence got a boost, as well as his body.

“I feel like I’m in the best shape of my career, honestly,” Stroman said. “I feel stronger. I feel just as mobile, just as flexible, just as fluid, but I feel stronger. My arm feels stronger. I train extremely hard. Extremely hard. So I know I’m going to be in this game for a long time.”

“This guy brings such a positive attitude to the clubhouse, such a positive attitude to the game as well,” added Mets manager Luis Rojas. “In between the lines, you’ve seen his energy how he goes. As soon as he became a Met last year, you guys saw how the team also had a little bit of that push toward the end.”

UFC 251 hits 1.3 million PPV Buys

If anyone wants to doubt the drawing power of the Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal, you need to sit down. UFC 251 did extremely well on PPV and the numbers were released today that told us just how well it did.

One of the best in UFC history

Dana White said that the card was trending higher than a Conor McGregor fight. He wasn’t lying as there have only been three events in the company’s history to have drawn more PPV buys.

  1. Khabib vs McGregor – 2.4 Million PPV
  2. Diaz vs McGregor 2 – 1.6 Million PPV
  3. McGregor vs Diaz – 1.317 Million PPV

Kamaru Usman – Jorge Masvidal did the same amount of PPV buys as UFC 205 which was headlined by Conor McGregor. That night the UFC put three title fights on for their first show ever in New York.

Jorge Masvidal is a needle mover at the highest level. Yes, he’s not quite on the Conor McGregor level, but he’s right there. In fact, UFC 251 did better on PPV than UFC 246 did which featured the return of the notorious one.

You had to think that the UFC was hoping that Masvidal would have pulled out the victory on Saturday. A McGregor-Masvidal fight would have been the biggest fight in UFC history. There is always the possibility of that in the future, but for now, the fight is a dream.

Dana White and company hit it out of the park on Saturday and they owe a lot to Jorge Masvidal. No disrespect to Gilbert Burns, but UFC 251 does not do nearly as good without Gamebred on the card.

New York Yankees 2020 TV Schedule

Newsday Sports has reported that the New York Yankees have made their 2020 TV schedule public. This season features 54 of 60 games on the YES Network, with the other six being exclusive to national television. No games are expected to be on PIX 11.

The six nationally televised games will be on ESPN and FOX, with three on each. Opening Day against the Nationals will be on ESPN on July 23rd, as well as Sunday Night Baseball games against the Red Sox on August 2nd and 16th.

The three games on FOX will be on the same weekends as the ESPN games. They will televise a game against the Nationals on July 25th, as well as games with the Red Sox on August 1st and 15th.

So, with this years TV format, fans will only be able to see six games with a basic cable package. Those six are the nationally televised games, bringing in the most revenue for less cost to the viewer. YES is not included with basic cable, meaning you have to pay extra to see those games. No games are on local television (PIX 11), and that likely has to do with making the network making the least amount of money.

The way the TV schedule is made is so that teams can make the most revenue possible. In negotiations about the season, owners were hesitant to have a season due to potential revenue losses. Formatting the TV schedule like this could help minimize their loss, even though it’s at the dispense of the fans.

And unfortunately due to blackout rules, local fans can’t watch games on MLB.com. They would either have to buy YES or a service such as HULU or Apple TV to see all games.

New York Mets Open MCU Park for Summer Camp

The New York Mets have Monday off but made some news by opening up MCU Park in Brooklyn as an alternate summer campsite. The park usually belongs to the Brooklyn Cyclones, but without a minor league season, the field sat empty.

With the Mets increasing their player pool to 58, the alternate site was a necessity. It also limits the amount of contact between players each day if any Met has tested positive for COVID-19. The Mets have kept results of their tests silent and leave it to the players to announce it if they test positive.

New Additions 

The Mets officially added five pitchers, Matt Blackham, Stephen Gonsalves, Jordan Humphreys, Franklyn Kilome, and Thomas Szapucki, along with positions players, catcher David Rodriguez and Jake Hager.

All of the pitchers are high upside arms, which were in a spot to contribute in 2020, should the season went as planned. Blackham will become a free agent at the end of the 2020 season and is in the mix for a relief role if the Mets needed an extra arm.

With only two spots left in the 60-man player pool, those spots likely remain empty as the Mets await the status of Brad Brach and Robinson Cano. Also, any injuries or positive tests should force the Mets’ hand to add extra players.

New York Mets’ Melky Cabrera ready to give it his all to make team

If there is a player in the New York Mets camp who is eager to make an impression, that’s Melky Cabrera. The veteran outfielder had been out of a job for months before the Mets came knocking on his door a couple of weeks ago, most precisely on June 29.

His best years are obviously behind him, since he’s 35 years old. The Mets had him for a workout in February, even asking him to take some ground balls at first base, but an offer never came. Then, the pandemic struck. Thankfully, with teams looking for veteran depth and guile, there was an offer this time around.

“What they did tell me was to just come in and work hard,” Cabrera said through an interpreter. “You just never know what happens. So I’m coming here to work hard and give it my all.”

The Mets are very deep

At this point, Cabrera knows the drill. He is familiarized with the fact that it isn’t certain that he will make the New York Mets’ final roster. After all, the team has plenty of outfielders, including Brandon Nimmo, Yoenis Cespedes, J.D. Davis, Jake Marisnick, Michael Conforto, and Dom Smith.

For his career, Cabrera, who is close friends with Mets’ second baseman Robinson Cano, has slashed .285/.334/.417 with 144 home runs and 101 stolen bases in 1887 games. He has a 101 wRC+, which is essentially average production. However, last season he had an 85 wRC+ mark and a rather mediocre .280/.313/.399 line with the Pirates.

His ability to switch-hit would give manager Luis Rojas a bit of versatility at the time of writing the lineup.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity,” Cabrera said remembering his time with the Yankees. “This is where I first started my career. And I’m grateful to the team for giving me this new opportunity to continue playing here.”

New York Mets: “J-Rod” bid to buy the team reportedly rivals Cohen’s

New York Yankees, Alex Rodriguez

Last week, Allen & Company set July 9 as the deadline for interested parties in buying the New York Mets from the Wilpons to submit their bids. The team has been up for sale for quite a few months now.

Allen & Company is the firm in charge of managing the sale of the Mets. Before talks broke down in February, billionaire hedge funder Steve Cohen was on the verge of completing the transaction. Now, there are several investment groups looking to secure the deal.

According to what J.P. Morgan told Charles Gasparino of Fox Business, the bid from the group led by Mike Repole, Alex Rodriguez, and Jennifer Lopez is closer to $2 billion and not the previously reported $1.7 billion that was floating around.

That is indeed a competitive offer, close to what Cohen bid this time around. Additionally, Gasparino is saying that a source close to Josh Harris and David Blitzer said that the pair is “feeling pretty good” about their chances of getting the team after their bid, although it is not known how much they offered.

Several parties are interested in buying the Mets

Besides “J-Rod” (and Repole) Cohen, and the Harris – Blitzer pair, there are at least four other interested parties in buying the New York Mets.

For now, the Mets are hosting its training camp in Citi Field, in New York, in preparation for the MLB season that will start on July 23.

According to general manager Brodie van Wagenen, he is focused on winning rather than what happens with ownership.

“You’d be surprised. We aren’t talking about it as a baseball operations group,” Van Wagenen said. “Our focus is … to win, and it’s to try to win going forward. There are no distractions. And I would say that’s true for me, it would be true for [COO] Jeff [Wilpon], it would be true for the rest of our baseball operations leadership, and I know it’s true for our players and our coaches. It’s just not a conversation we’re having internally because we’re keeping our eye on the prize and we’re having a lot of fun doing it,” he said to MLB.com.