MLB: Derek Jeter sets the record straight about rumors involving his team and how the COVID-19 outbreak started

The MLB world was shaken when it was learned, a couple of weeks ago, that there were positive cases of coronavirus within the Miami Marlins. Lots of words have been written and spoken about the possible causes of the outbreak, but team owner Derek Jeter had an encounter with the media and criticized the ease with which false rumors were spread about the club.

In total, 18 Miami Marlins players tested positive for the virus, and the team will resume its season today after a hiatus lasting more than a week. Jeter acknowledged that some of his players failed to obey MLB’s safety protocols such as wearing masks at all times and social distancing, but anything beyond that, he says, wasn’t true.

“I am hoping that the first question today is about the health of our players who’ve tested positive because it really has been disheartening to not read anything about that or see many signs of empathy for what they’re going through,” the Yankees great and said according to NJ.com. “Instead, we continue to hear and read about rumors about our players actions in Atlanta, and we need to stop that. And our team and our players deserve better than that. These guys are sick.”

Scott Miller of the Bleacher Report said that after playing an exhibition game in Atlanta on July 21, some players partied at a hotel bar.

A failure to follow MLB safety protocols in times of COVID-19

Jeter said that the report is erroneous.

“Our guys were not running all around town after our game in Atlanta,” Jeter stated. “So I need to ask that that stop. They don’t deserve that. We did have a couple individuals leave the hotel. In our review, it was determined we had guys leave to get coffee, to get clothes. A guy left to have dinner at a teammate’s house. There were no other guests on site. There was no salacious activity. There was no hanging out at bars. No clubs. No running around the town.

“What it boiled down to on this particular trip guys were around each other, they got relaxed and they let their guard down. They were getting together in groups. They weren’t wearing masks as much. They weren’t social distancing.

“Everyone was getting tested, we went the whole spring training 2.0 without a positive and the entire traveling party got a little too comfortable. Should they have been doing that? No. And that’s been addressed, but there is no way to identify how this got into our clubhouse. And activities on Tuesday night (in Atlanta) were not it.”

Jeter also explained that “the entire traveling party is responsible for not following the MLB protocols as instructed. That includes coaches, staffs and players. Everyone has seen the impact. They’ve seen their teammates get sick, and I know we all have a new level of appreciation.

“Hopefully, this has been a wake-up call for everyone, not only on our team, but the rest of baseball and sports in general.”

New York Giants: Saquon Barkley’s thighs actually look like they got bigger

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

Training camp is underway for the New York Giants, which means position battles and plenty of exciting activities are in the near future. The Giants have been posting videos from their training sessions, including some of their star players. Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Jabrill Peppers, and Daniel Jones headline the group.

However, if there’s anyone that stands out from the rest, it’s Saquon Barkley and his huge legs. Having continued to work out through the off-season, Barkley seems to be in great shape. Last season, he suffered a high ankle sprain against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which forced him to miss three games and play on the injured ankle for the remainder of the campaign.

It was clear that Barkley was hampered by the injury, as his pass blocking was deficient and his ability to bounce the ball outside was not up to his standards. Former head coach Pat Shurmur ran Barkley up the middle far too often, possibly as a way to limit his jump-cutting which could further hurt his ankle.

With that being said, Barkley seems to be back to normal and is cutting and jumping regularly in practice. The training leading up to the regular season will be essential for him in what is hopefully a career year.

The New York Giants need rookie Saquon back:

Back in his rookie season behind a subpar offensive line, Barkley posted 1,307 yards on the ground and 721 receiving yards. He earned 15 touchdowns in a Pro Bowl-caliber season. However, even in an injured year, he managed to rush for over 1,000 yards and score 8 touchdowns. Most running backs would die for his type of production when playing at 50%.

The Giants are optimistic about 2020, despite utilizing plenty of youth players. Sterling Shepard referred to the offense as a “family” on Instagram, and that is a type of mentality they need to install if they wish to play together and cohesively. The team has not played as a unit in recent years and having a new head coach Joe Judge, who expects the coaching staff to do their job correctly instead of having older players coach for them. Ultimately, every player has a job to do and they must be focused on doing theirs and theirs alone.

New York Mets Series Preview: Washington Nationals (8/4-8/5)

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

The New York Mets and Washington Nationals face off for the first time in the 2020 season. This matchup accounted for a few of the best games in all of baseball during the 2019 campaign. In 2019, the Mets were 12-7 against the World Series champions.

The Mets come off a series loss against the Atlanta Braves, where they took the last game of a four-game series. Washington has not played a game since July 30 due to COVID-19 precautions but are 3-4 on the season.

Probable Pitching Matchups

Tuesday (8/4) @ 7:05 p.m. ET: Steven Matz (0-1, 3.18 ERA) vs. Patrick Corbin (0-0, 1.42 ERA)

Wednesday (8/5) @ 6:05 p.m. ET: Rick Porcello (0-1, 13.50 ERA) vs Max Scherzer (0-1, 2.84 ERA)

The Mets hope they can take advantage of any rust that has built up on the Nats during their extended pause. One of the benefits of the break is allowing them to line up their pitching staff in their favor. The Mets offense started to wake up, which is a good sign with the Nats aces coming up.

Infield Issues

The Mets are dealing with quite a few issues in their infield. Injuries to Jeff McNeil, Amed Rosario, and Robinson Cano all make them questionable to play in the series. McNeil suffered a back injury during Monday’s batting practice, but his is the least severe of the trio. Neither Rosario nor Cano’s leg injuries seemed significant, but the DH could allow the Mets to put Cano in the lineup without further injuring him. Andres Gimenez figures to play shortstop in game one if Rosario can’t play.

Pete Alonso is the only starting infielder who is healthy but is struggling mightily with the bat. He walked in his first three at-bats on Monday but is still only hitting .167. Alonso taking three walks, shows an adjustment in his approach after swinging at too many pitches outside of the strike zone. He is an aggressive hitter, but the sooner Alonso understands that pitchers do not want him to swing the bat, the better hitter he will become. With the added patience, Alonso can easily become a hitter whose on-base percentage ranks 100 points higher than his batting average.

Porcello Struggles

Hopefully, Rick Porcello can rebound from his first two starts with the Mets. He struggled to have any command with his secondary pitches and missed multiple times over the middle of the plate. The Mets desperately need him to pitch better with no Marcus Stroman return on the horizon. Despite not allowing a hit to the first batter of an inning, his ERA still sits at an inflated 13.50.

Matchups to Lookout For

Steven Matz vs. Trea Turner: 8-for-25 (.320), 3 Doubles, 2 Walks, 2 Strikeouts

Rick Porcello vs. Howie Kendrick: 10-for-31 (.323), 3 Doubles, 9 Strikeouts

Patrick Corbin vs. Michael Conforto: 7-for-19 (.368), Double, 4 Home Runs, Walk, 6 Strikeouts

Max Scherzer vs. Michael Conforto: 10-for-31 (.323), Double, 4 Home Runs, 3 Walks, 13 Strikeouts

Should MLB make teams forfeit games missed to poor decisions bringing coronavirus into league?

Less than two weeks into the 2020 MLB season, we’ve seen two coronavirus outbreaks with two different teams. The Miami Marlins had 20 positive tests, while the Cardinals are at 13.

The unfortunate thing is that both outbreaks could have been prevented. It’s believed that both outbreaks were the result of players leaving the team hotel and then catching the virus, exposing teammates and coaches.

“We did have a couple of individuals leave the hotel,” said Marlins owner Derek Jeter. “We had guys leave to get coffee, to get clothes. A guy left to have dinner at a teammate’s house. There were no other guests on site”.

However, with the Cardinals, it’s reported that some players went to a casino, possibly catching the virus and bringing it back to the team. Since the outbreaks, players and staff are prohibited from leaving the hotel, unless it’s to go to the ballpark.

So, with two MLB coronavirus outbreaks that could have been prevented, should the league punish teams for the decisions of players? Should the league force teams that make irresponsible decisions to forfeit games? There might not be time to make up all the games that the Marlins and Cardinals have missed, so in my opinion, those teams should have to forfeit games that can’t be rescheduled.

Doing that would show players that the MLB is serious about their coronavirus policies, and it will give players an incentive to comply. Are positive cases going to still happen? Yes. But teams should be punished if the cases or outbreaks could have been prevented.

If an outbreak starts because a player needs to get necessities, then that’s one thing. But teams shouldn’t get games rescheduled if an outbreak starts because someone goes to a casino or to a club. They should be automatic wins to the team that complied with the rules.

The Marlins are set to return on Tuesday, while the Cardinals won’t return any earlier than Friday.

 

 

 

 

New York Yankees: The one word Gerrit Cole used to describe the Bronx Bombers so far

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

The New York Yankees have started the season with an 8-1 record, sweeping the Boston Red Sox over the weekend and taking the first game of a four-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday evening.

Despite players like Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres struggling at the plate, the Yankees have managed to dominate with their star power. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton have dominated, with Judge hitting five home runs in his last six games. He has also had two game-winning homers in the last six days, one against Baltimore and one against Boston.

Of course, we shouldn’t forget about DJ LeMahieu or Gio Urshela. LeMahieu played an integral part in the Yankees’ final win of the series against Boston, driving in Mike Tauchman, who stole second base in the eighth inning. Judge hit a two-run home run immediately after, sending the Yankees home with a victory. LeMahieu is currently hitting .412 with a .618 slugging percentage.

Urshela, on the other hand, is hitting .300 with a .667 slugging percentage. He has three long balls on the year, two 3-run blasts, and one grand slam. Despite his incredible success, Judge leads the team with 14 RBIs.

Nonetheless, while the Yankees’ offense has been dominant, the pitching has struggled at times. The only consistent threat has been Gerrit Cole on the mound. Cole leads the team with 17.2 innings pitched, with the second player being Michael King with just 7.0 innings. So far, in his first Yankee season, he has a 2.55 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, and 8.2 K/9. He has allowed five earned runs and just 10 hits, displaying his dominance and why the Yankees elected to pay him the big bucks.

When I asked about the New York Yankees’ power and how well they have been playing, Cole had just one word.

”WOW.”

He went on to continue raving about his defense and cohesion in the lineup.

“The power is there. The communication through the lineup is there. The defense is crisp, and guys are bringing it every night, especially with a lot of unknowns and a lot of uncertainties,” Cole said on a Zoom call from Yankee Stadium on Sunday. “We have certainly started off on the right foot. Very impressive so far.”

With the Yankees traveling to Philadelphia for a doubleheader on Wednesday, they have a tall task ahead of them. However, they have the talent to get the job done and continue their winning streak after losing the second game of the season to the Washington Nationals.

New York Giants officially gain back Markus Golden on free agent tender

New York Giants, Markus Golden

The New York Giants will officially enter the 2020 season with Markus Golden under contract. While his off-season has not gone the way he expected, which would have ideally landed him a multi-year extension with an NFL team, he is now on a one year deal again.

The Giants placed the rarely used free agent tender on Golden, which will pay him $4.125 million next season. That is a steal for a player who logged 10.0 sacks in 2019. He reported to the team earlier this week for COVID-19 testing and a physical, and he has clearly passed both given his signing.

The former Arizona Cardinal racked up 27 quarterback hits, 72 combined tackles, and 13 tackles for loss in 2019. While he proved his worth with the Giants, it took him 917 defensive snaps to get there. It seems that most teams didn’t want to pay Golden the money he was seeking, so the Giants ended up getting him on a bargain deal. While this might suggest that Golden is overvalued and doesn’t produce as well as the stats show, he provides value to the outside linebacker group.

Currently, the Giants have Oshane Ximines, Lorenzo Carter, Kyler Fackrell, and Golden as their primary rotational pass rushers.

 

The fourth line just continuing to do their job will allow the Islanders to have success

New York Islanders, Islanders

While the second and third lines got most of the recognition for the New York Islanders’ Game One victory on Saturday, it was the team’s fourth line also got the job done in a more subtle fashion.

The line consisting of Casey Cizikas, who returned to game action for the first time since he suffered a leg laceration resulting from being cut by a skate, Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin were back to their ways of creating havoc in the offensive zone.

Neither of the three got on the stat sheet, but they were damn sure effective every time they stepped on the ice. Cizikas won 46% of his faceoffs and saw 14:56 of ice time; Clutterbuck had 14:28; Martin 11:46. The trio though, did play the physical game recording seven total hits — Martin and Clutterbuck 3 each and Cizikas 1 — and sacrificed the body when needed.

Clutterbuck had a team-high three blocked shots along with defensemen Devon Toews.

It was nice to see all three guys on the ice again being difference makers. For the Isles to take a stranglehold on the series today, they’ll need a repeat of that performance of what they did in game one. Maybe, even getting a little more physical too.

The Panthers offense, which was stymied by the Isles’ defense in the opening contest, are no doubt going to come harder out of the gate today being it’s basically a do-or-die situation. So that line throwing the body around more could definitely set the tone once again and get Florida’s forwards off their game. Establishing that heavy forecheck too, just like we saw in the first game, would also be a big help and take some of the pressure off the other three lines while doing the deed of tiring out an inexperienced Panthers defense.

It’s clear how much more the entire team was in sync when the fourth line is going. The Isles no doubt missed elements all three players brought when one or two of them were injured at different times during the regular season. They were finally back together on Saturday, and they did exactly what they’re known for doing.

The Islanders are going to need a few things to happen if they want to find themselves of 2-0 heading into tomorrow. Mostly it’s more from the first line and sticking to their disciplined game.

But their fourth line? They don’t need to change a thing.

They just need to play their game, and the team will have success.

In simpler terms, what that really means is just doing their job

UFC: Khabib plans on taking Justin Gaethje to “The deepest ocean and drown him”

There might not be a fighter more terrifying in the UFC than the lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmogomedov (28-0). When it comes to game plans, the Dagestan native makes it very clear what he plans on doing.

UFC commentator Joe Rogan posted a video on Instagram of interim champion, Justin Gaethje (22-2) training, and Nurmagomedov voiced his opinion about what will happen in a couple of months at UFC 254.

UFC 254 can’t come soon enough

The UFC has never seen a fighter like Nurmogomedov. He’s so dominant to the point that he doesn’t even appear to be human. He pushes forward and every opponent he’s faced has been taken down.

AKA teammate and former UFC heavyweight champion, Daniel Cormier, talked about how strong Nurmogomedov is yesterday on his show with Ariel Helwani. Cormier talked about how it was hard for even him to get up when Khabib had him down.

“I’m a heavyweight, I should not feel like ‘This dude’s strong’ when a 55 pounder grabs me. I was on the bottom with him and I had to actually try to get up. I can only imagine what it’s like when a 55 pounder is under him,” Cormier said to Helwani.

The UFC interim lightweight champion, Gaethje, might be the best wrestler that Khabib has fought so far. Most (including myself) don’t feel that Gaethje will be able to keep Nurmagomedov off of him.

I think that even Gaethje knows at some point he will probably be taken down. The game plan for Gaethje has to be to keep it standing long enough to hurt/finish the UFC lightweight champion.

This fight is so fascinating and UFC 254 can’t come soon enough. Justin Gaethje presents the most dangerous challenge in the lightweight division for Nurmogomedov.

If Khabib can’t get through Gaethje, he will cement himself as the greatest lightweight to ever live. Then, if he gets his dream matchup with GSP following that win, he could cement himself as the greatest fighter of all time.

UFC: Ben Rothwell – Marcin Tybura targeted for October 10th

Ben Rothwell

The UFC has been working hard over the last couple of weeks to set their schedule for the rest of 2020. Dana White said that once he returned from Fight Island it would be time to work.

We’ve seen a bunch of fights get announced recently and there’s another contest in the works. According to multiple reports, Ben Rothwell (38-12) will be taking on Marcin Tybura (19-6). Both men come into the contest off back-to-back wins.

Big Ben’s UFC Journey

Nearly 11 years ago, Big Ben Rothwell made his UFC debut. He had a ton of hype behind him as he entered the contest 14-1 in his last 15 fights. However, the UFC gave him Cain Velasquez in his debut who proceeded to maul Rothwell.

Since then, Rothwell has gone 8-5 in 13 fights in the UFC. He went on a four fight winning streak which included wins over Alistair Overeem, Matt Mitrione, and Josh Barnett. Rothwell looked to be a win or two away from a title shot.

The UFC paired him against former champion, Junior Dos Santos. Rothwell would drop that fight by unanimous decision before sitting out for nearly three years due to suspension issues.

Big Ben returned last year and dropped two straight. However, Rothwell finished Stefan Struve back in December and took a split decision against Ovince St. Pruex to get back on track this year. He hopes to make it three in a row in October.

Marcin Tybura lost two and a row in 2019 just like Rothwell. Also like Rothwell, Tybura has bounced back with two consecutive wins this year. The Polish heavyweight has been in there with top guys like former champion, Fabricio Werdum.

Tybura will make the walk on October 10th at 6-5 in his UFC career. Both of these men are looking to break back into the top 15 of the heavyweight division. A win for either would mean three straight which could do the trick.

New York Yankee Profiles: Gio Urshela, he’s no fluke, he is the real deal

New York Yankees, Gio Urshela

Last year the New York Yankees had a “newfound 3rd baseman” Gio Urshela. It’s fun doing player profiles for players Yankee fans may not be that familiar with. With all the Yankee Injuries last season, many triple-A stars made it to the bigs and had a chance to show off their talents and give the team a reason to keep them in the majors. Gio Urshela is such a player who filled in for Miguel Andujar at third base.

Twenty-eight-year-old Giovanny Urshela is a Columbian baseball player for our Yankees. He has previously played the for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Cleveland Indians. Urshela signed with the Cleveland Indians as an international free agent in July 2008. He made his professional debut in 2009, playing for the Dominican Summer League Indians and the Arizona League Indians. He spent 2010-2013 in single A. He started the 2014 season with Akron and was promoted to the Columbus Clippers of the Class AAA International League during the season.

After the 2014 season, the Indians added Urshela to their 40-man roster. He was named the Indians’ fourth-best prospect by MLB.com in 2015. He batted .227 for the Indians before being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. Urshela batted .233 with one home run and three RBIs in 19 games for Toronto before he was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays on June 26. During his time with the Jays, he was noted for his timely hitting and very capable play on the 3rd. Base.

On August 4, 2018, the Blue Jays traded Urshela to the New York Yankees in exchange for cash considerations. The Yankees assigned him to the
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Urshela was called up by the Yankees to the bigs on April 6, 2019, as a fill-in for Miguel Andujar at third base. Urshela has been an out-making specialist in the big leagues and has certainly shown his worth at the hot corner.

In his brief stay with the Yankees, he has played well at 3rd, even making spectacular plays that many wonders if Andujar could have made, considering that Miguel’s play at third has been questioned. Gio is well-liked in the clubhouse and fits in quite well. Some of this may be his not so young age and experience. So far, although not a home run hitter, he is a timely hitter. He played so well he has received praise from manager Aaron Boone and a tweet of support from the Columbian President.

The New York Yankees expected that he would be able to handle third base.  What they didn’t expect was his discipline, timely and powerful hitting behind the plate.  It was a win-win situation for the Yankees as they got Glove Glove-like defense at third base and a powerful bat at the plate. When Gio would make near impossible plays at third, he became an immediately loved Yankee player.

As the season progressed, Urshela just got better and better.  He ended the season with the second-highest batting average, only second to MVP DJ LeMahieu. Gio’s average was .314 with a .889 OPS and a career-high 21 home runs in just 132 games. With the start of the 2020 season, it appears that Gio hasn’t missed a beat. In just nine games, he has four home runs, a batting average of .300, and an incredible 1.067 OPS.

After the last season and going into this one, many Yankee fans and the Yankee brass were still wondering if Urshela’s 2019 season was just a fluke. The answer, he is no fluke, he’s the real deal, a man on a mission to help the Yankees to their 28th World Championship.