New York Giants: Corey Ballentine Among Practice Standouts

New York Giants, Corey Ballentine

The New York Giants really need someone to step up at the second cornerback spot. While a lot of fans were already unsure about that spot thanks to DeAndre Baker being the returning option from last year, his legal trouble only puts the Giants in a worse spot than they were at the start of the year.

You might not like DeAndre Baker and his play. But the Giants aren’t deep at his position. If Baker stepping up is an uncertainty, the Giants getting good play at CB2 without him is an even bigger one.

However, training camp is underway and one player at cornerback is standing out right now.

Corey Ballentine earns praise from Jerome Henderson

It’s worth paying attention to the CB2 position battle because the Giants probably aren’t going to have Baker available this season. It’s also a bit late to get a good replacement from free agency, leaving the Giants with what they have now. One of those players is Corey Ballentine, who seems to have pretty good results so far during training camp.

He earned some praise from defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson, which is encouraging for anyone wondering if the Giants have the talent to compete at Ballentine’s position this year.

“The thing that I appreciate about Corey is that he wants to be coached,” Henderson said on Ballentine.

“He has come to me and said, ‘I want to be coached. I want to know, and I want feel like I can go out there and play confident.’ I’m making sure that he feels confident when he goes out, giving him instruction, and making sure that he can give it back to me. He’s a guy who has some ability. He’s in the mix, just like everybody else is, to play a big role for us. I’m excited to work with him,” Henderson continued.

From Eli Apple to Janoris Jenkins, the Giants have a minor trend of defensive backs who don’t have great attitudes. Someone like Ballentine is a nice change from that.

Ballentine doesn’t have as much experience from 2019 to build off of as Baker, but he does have some. He made it into 13 games, playing as a defensive back and kick returner. He had 26 tackles and 2 passes defended, a number that will likely increase over time as the absence of Baker gives a shot for more young defensive backs to find playing time on the field in 2020.

New York Yankees: Good news and more very bad news in victory over Boston

New York Yankees, James Paxton

The New York Yankees pummeled the Boston Red Sox on Saturday evening 11-5, on the back of starting pitcher James Paxton. Paxton lasted 5.0 innings, giving up six hits and three earned runs. It wasn’t his best outing, but he touched 95 mph on his fastball, which is a very nice increase considering he was averaging lower than 93 mph in his previous starts.

However, the offense undoubtedly came to play, thrashing Nate Eovaldi, the Red Sox top pitcher at the moment. The Bombers recorded nine hits and eight runs against Eovaldi, with Gio Urshela recording a two-run homer, Gary Sanchez with a two-run home run, and Clint Frazier with a three-run homer to blow the game open in the sixth inning.

Here’s  good news and bad news for the New York Yankees following the victory over Boston:

GOOD NEWS:

The good news was purely offensive, with two Yankee batters earning two hits or more on the night.

Frazier was 3-for-3 and Gleyber Torres 2-for-4, combining for five RBIs. However, Frazier has been the stand-out player the past few games, currently hosting a .636 batting average with a 1.455 slugging percentage. While his sample size is extremely small and those numbers will undoubtedly decrease as time goes on, he has lit the batting order ablaze in the absence of Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and now DJ LeMahieu.

As for the pitching, Paxton touched 95 mph on his fastball, which is a sign of progression.

More positive news, closer Aroldis Chapman pitched another successful simulation game and should be ready to return to the team next week. This will allow manager Aaron Boone to utilize Zack Britton in a more strategic role.

BAD NEWS:

The bad news is quite problematic. Infielder DJ LeMahieu left the game in the fifth inning with a strained left thumb and was headed to receive an MRI to determine the extent of the issue. In what seemed to be an overextension of his swing immediately turned into pain (for the fan-base too). While Boone checked in on DJ, he stayed in the game and grounded out to shortstop. He was replaced shortly after by Tyler Wade.

With Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton already missing time, losing LeMahieu will be significant. Luckily, the Yankees have two remaining games against Boston, which should give their star players more time to heal.

New York Liberty: Brutal second half leads to one-sided loss

The Minnesota Lynx dealt a sweep to former assistant coach Walt Hopkins’ New York Liberty through a one-sided second half.

It was deja vu all over again in the worst way for the New York Liberty on Saturday night in the Bradenton bubble. A rematch with the Minnesota Lynx yielded more brutality in the second half, as the Liberty were outscored 52-31 over the final 20 minutes in a 94-64 loss. Minnesota was the former dwelling of Liberty head coach Walt Hopkins.

New York (1-9) was previously outscored 27-6 in the third quarter of a 92-66 loss to the Lynx on August 5. This time around, reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year Napheesa Collier led the way with 26 points and 13 rebounds, while current contender Crystal Dangerfield earned 22 on 9-of-12 shooting. Five Minnesotans in total earned double-figures.

The Liberty got off to a decent start in the first quarter. Leaonna Odom earning eight points in the first quarter, and New York built a small 10-9 lead by the midway mark. Minnesota, however, embarked on a 16-10 run to end the frame and had relative control from that point on. A manageable nine-point deficit at halftime quickly flew out of hand when the Lynx (7-3) sank six of their first seven field goals to open the latter half. Minnesota shot just over 50 percent on the evening (36-of-71) and converted 6-of-13 three-point attempts. In contrast, the Liberty shot only 30 percent (20-of-66) from the field.

The New York silver linings came in the form of rookie Jazmine Jones and Kylee Shook. Formerly teammates at Louisville, Jones was the only New Yorker in double figures with 13 points while Shook tied her infantile career-best in scoring with nine. Jones reached double-figures for the third straight game through physical play that went on until the final second had ticked off the clock. The final pick of the first round is averaging 16 points over the trio, which began with a career-high 24 points against Los Angeles on Tuesday.

“Toward the end of the game, we knew we needed to play hard, finish the game, continue to fight,” Jones said. “We just got to get better together in practice, translate it over to the game. Youth has nothing to do with it. We just need to come out, execute, do the things we need to do to win.”

The Liberty will hit the midway point of their bubble exploits on Tuesday night when they take on the Seattle Storm (10 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Go). It will be the second of two meetings with the Storm, who opened the bubble project with the Liberty on July 25. Seattle took home an 87-71 decision. Layshia Clarendon had 20 points in the game to lead the Liberty while Sabrina Ionescu had 12 points and six rebounds in her debut. Seattle currently tops the WNBA standings with a 9-1 record.

“We need to be tougher. We need to start our games with some heart,” Hopkins said of the upcoming second half. “I say that would be a really good start for us. I think we lost four quarters tonight.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Yankees: DJ LeMahieu injury update, headed for imaging

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

New York Yankees’ infielder DJ LeMahieu stepped up to the plate in the fifth inning, but what usually is a positive thing turned into a scary situation. What seemed to be an overextension, LeMahieu sprained his left thumb, forcing him out for the remainder of the game.

The star second baseman is extremely valuable to the Yankees, considering his ability to fill multiple positions and his leadoff quality.

LeMahieu is currently batting .411 on the season with a .456 on-base percentage. His consistency and dominance in all facets have helped the Yankees to 13 wins so far on the year. However, this injury could be significant, and force reserve player Tyler wade into a more prominent role.

LeMahieu sprained a thumb back in 2018 with the Colorado Rockies, and he missed nearly two weeks. This could be a problematic situation for the Bombers, but let’s see what the MRI has to say before jumping to conclusions.

New York Mets: Fifth Inning Struggles Haunt Matz in 6-2 Loss

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

New York Mets starter, Steven Matz, came into his start with a renewed game plan after a rough start to his season. It worked for Matz through four innings, but everything came crashing down when a five-run fifth inning knocked him out of the game.

Matz took some velocity off his fastball in exchange for an increase in his accuracy. He sat around 91-93 with it and threw more changeups during his start. The only hit and run Matz allowed through the first four innings of the game came on a Jean Segura second-inning home run.

Matz ran into quick trouble during the fifth inning when two soft singles set the Phillies up with first and second with no one out. He walked Alec Bohm to load the bases and start to run away from his game plan from early in his outing. After getting Scott Kingery to lineout, he walked Andrew McCutchen to walk in a run. Rhys Hoskins blew the game open with a bases-clearing double followed by a Bryce Harper double, ended Matz’s night.

The outing inflated his ERA to 9.00 on the season, and his nine home runs are the most allowed by any pitcher this season. He tried to overthrow the ball once he got into trouble, and it ended up hurting him and brought his stats back to the norm in 2020 for Matz.

Nola Dominates

The Mets struggled all night with Aaron Nola as he shut them out for seven innings. When the Mets had early chances against him, he squashed them quickly. Nola retired the last 13 batters he faced and recorded eight strikeouts during his outing.

The only scoring from the Mets came from Dominic Smith. His two-run home run was his sixth of the season, and it leads the Mets. Smith’s hot start put into question how long Pete Alonso can continue to play every day. Through just over a third of the season, Alonso is only hitting .214, and his power is non-existent in the rare circumstance that he makes contact.

On Sunday, Rick Porcello tries to help the Mets prevent a sweep. He faces off against former Met Zack Wheeler at 1:05 p.m. ET from Citizens Bank Park.

New York Yankees’ DJ LeMahieu leaves game with injury, here’s what we know

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

In the fifth inning of Saturday night’s game against the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees’ second baseman DJ LeMahieu left with a wrist injury. When swinging the bat, LeMahieu seemed to pull a muscle or ligament in his wrist. He tried to shake it off and ended up grounding out to shortstop shortly after.

It could have been an overextension in his arm or something forearm related. However, losing LeMahieu would be devastating for the Yankees’ line up, which desperately needs consistency after losing both Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge to injury. LeMahieu was 0-for-3 on Saturday, hitting .411 with a .456 on-base percentage. He’s one of the most consistent players for the Yankees and is a staple on defense, considering his utility value.

After his departure entering the sixth inning, the Yankees replaced him with Tyler Wade at second base.

Wade is currently hitting .250 on the year and is a solid defender. Nonetheless, he doesn’t even remotely match up with LeMahieu’s production, and losing him for any number of games would be significant.

Manager Aaron Boone stated on Friday that the team would place Judge on the injured list, along with Stanton, who could miss up to four weeks with a hamstring injury. Judge is dealing with a calf ailment, and it could be lengthy considering the number of game Stanton was expected to is before COVID-19 shut down baseball operations.

UFC: Brian Ortega – Chan Sung Jung to headline October 17th card

Brian Ortega, UFC

On a night where UFC 252 should be taking center stage, there has been a little bit of news. Per multiple outlets and first reported by Melenio, Brian “T-City” Ortega (14-1, 1 NC) will be taking on “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung (16-5) on October 17th.

UFC title eliminator?

This is one of the more anticipated matchups in the UFC‘s featherweight division. These two men do not like each other, and these two men are two of the best in the world.

The two men have been going back and forth for some time. Their feud seemed to reach a boiling point at UFC 248 when Ortega slapped a close friend of Jung’s, Jay Park.

Ortega hasn’t fought in the UFC since his loss to Max Holloway back in December of 2018. Injuries have prevent Ortega from getting back in the Octagon. However, prior to the Holloway loss, Ortega was on fire.

T-City had ran through all competition he had faced in the UFC‘s featherweight division. His notable wins included a knockout over Frankie Edgar and a nasty standing guillotine against Cub Swanson.

The Korean Zombie has fought four times since he returned to action following his stint in the military. Jung has gone 3-1 with all three of his wins coming by first round knockout.

We last saw Jung in December when he starched Frankie Edgar in the first round. That fight was supposed to be headlined by Jung and Ortega, but an Ortega injury forced him off of the card.

A win for either one of these guys will likely make them next for whoever is the champion. Zabit Magomedsharipov is likely the next contender to get a shot at Alexander Volkanovski.

Magomedsharipov was supposed to fight Yair Rodriguez at the end of this month, but Rodriguez suffered an injury cancelling the fight. Now, Magomedsharipov might be getting a title shot unless the UFC tries to pair him against Max Holloway.

There is a lot of fluidity in the featherweight division at the moment. There is a lot of unknowns, but what we do know is that this fight should be an absolute banger!

Takeaways from the Islanders’ 2-0 win over the Captials

New York Islanders, Cal Clutterbuck

The New York Islanders beat the Washington Capitals 5-2 to take a 2-0 lead in the series. This was one of the best Islander playoff games in recent memory. The Islanders were firing on all cylinders, and for a team who “can’t score,” they scored a lot. The Isles definitely had some rough spots during this game, but that’s expected when playing a great Hockey team like the Capitals. The Islanders won 40 minutes of Hockey last night, but how, and why didn’t they win all 60?

First Period

The Capitals basically pressured the Islanders into giving up a terrible goal in the first period. Alex Ovechkin forechecked, and he was rewarded when he scored off of a slow backhander. Not even a minute in, and the Isles are one down. The rest of this period was really just good pressure by the Isles and some breaks for the Caps.

Second Period

The Islanders came to play in this period. Nic Dowd commits a penalty, and this leads to something the Islanders never do. They scored on the powerplay. Nick Leddy scores with an accurate slapshot from the point. Not even 2 minutes later, Cal Clutterbuck forechecks which leads to a Scott Mayfield pass to the crease, Matt Martin scores a tap in. A minute later, Derick Brassard leads a rush with Leo Komarov. Brassard passes it to Komarov, and he hits it off the post. Komarov missed a wide-open net. Ovechkin would take advantage of this and tie up the game once again. Finally, Brock Nelson steals the puck from Jakub Vrana and has a 1v1 with Braden Holtby. Fifteen seconds after Ovechkin ties the game up, the Islanders lead by one again.

Third Period

The last 7 minutes of this period was the best 7 minutes in recent Isles Hockey. Before that, the refs call a silly tripping penalty on Andy Greene, which leads to a blown empty-net chance by Ovechkin. Ovie had the hattrick and the game on his stick and whiffed on it. Greene comes out of the box, and then the Isles dominate 5v5 play. The Islanders at one point got two forward shifts of forechecking off before the Caps could even leave the zone. All this pressure led to JG Pageau wide open, and it was blocked, but it hit Clutterbuck’s hand and the Isles score, 4-2. Finally, after some tremendous 6v5 defense, the Islanders get the puck out, and Anders Lee scores the empty netter.

Conclusion

This was just a really solid effort from the Islanders. The Capitals are the better team on paper, but that will never stop a well-coached, determined team from winning. Game 3 is on at 12 pm EST tomorrow.

Is A Breakout Season In Store For New York Giants WR Darius Slayton?

New York Giants, Darius Slayton

The New York Giants’ offense showed an abundance of potential in 2019. The Giants had young playmakers make an impact, like Saquon Barkley, Daniel Jones, and Darius Slayton. But they were never all on the field together at the same time last season. Each player dealt with an injury at one point or another, keeping the team’s offense from maximizing its true potential.

Entering 2020, everyone seems to be healthy. Even Evan Engram is healthy along with the rest of the offensive playmakers. Hopefully, it will stay that way. One of the Giants’ playmakers who stayed healthy for the majority of the 2019 season was Darius Slayton. Big Play Slay appeared in 14 games for the Giants and quickly emerged as one of the team’s best players.

Darius Slayton Stats And Highlights

The 2019 fifth-round pick out of Auburn was a true diamond in the rough in last year’s NFL Draft. Initially touted as a deep-threat receiving prospect, Slayton quickly expanded his game in the pros. At the beginning of his rookie season, Pat Shurmur utilized Slayton as a pure deep-threat. The overwhelming majority of Darius’s routes were vertical/go routes. But as the season progressed, so did Darius Slayton, and he really expanded his route tree. This lead to success for the speedster from Auburn.

Darius Slayton led the New York Giants in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns as a rookie in 2019. The rookie totaled 48 receptions for 740 yards and 8 touchdowns (tied for the most receiving touchdowns by a rookie in the NFL). Heading into his second season, Slayton looks prepared and ready to take that next step as the Giants’ WR1. Check out this fire touchdown catch Slayton made in training camp:

New York has lacked a big-body outside receiver in recent years. Darius Slayton started to fill that role last season and looks ready to thrive in that role this season. The Giants will be implementing a new offensive scheme under Jason Garrett. Outside receivers were featured heavily in his offense in Dallas, such as Dez Bryant and Michael Gallup. Darius Slayton should fill that Bryant/Gallup role for the Giants in 2020.

New York Jets: Let bygones be bygones with Jamal Adams

New York Jets, Jamal Adams

Since he was shipped to the other side of the country, the New York Jets can’t let the memory of Jamal Adams linger.

If the start of training camp is any indication, the modern New York Jets may resemble the forgotten 2012 blockbuster The Bourne Legacy. Despite trying to move on with a fresh face of the franchise…Sam Darnold may well be the Jets’ Jeremy Renner in this scenario…the project may doomed to spend its runtime living in the shadow of its star attraction’s departure.

In this edition, the role of Matt Damon/Jason Bourne will be portrayed by Jamal Adams…except there’s more than likely no reunion tour coming four years later.

Jets representatives are emerging from isolation as training camp and Adams is the one name on their minds. The most prolific name of the Jets’ late 2010s offerings demanded his way out of New York and now begins his own training camp proceedings with the Seattle Seahawks. Yet, his prescience hasn’t truly left One Jets Drive.

Part of the lingering Adams sentiment obviously stems from modern times, as the Jets join the NFL in trying to navigate its way through the ongoing health crisis. Chances to speak to the Jets have been scarce compared to a normal offseason and the local media pounced on any opportunity to ask the defenders Adams left behind about his turbulent departure.

“That’s a situation between him and his party and the guys upstairs,” Adams’ former secondary companion Marcus Maye said, per Brian Costello of the New York Post. “Obviously, he was my running mate for three years, a hell of a player. He was looking for other things. I guess they had to part their ways.”

Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was the most vocal about the former safety, to the point of starting a war of words with Adams’ new employers in the Pacific Northwest.

“Jamal may get bored there because they don’t use their safety-type things with all the complexities, maybe not showing what they’re doing as much as we do,” Williams said per ESPN’s Rich Cimini, taking a slight shot at Seattle’s Cover 3 setup. “We’ll still do a lot of the same exact things, but we’ll highlight the people we have here. As you saw what we did [last season], he had maybe his most productive year here because of how we highlighted the skill set he has.”

Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Both Adams himself and Seattle head coach Pete Carroll has since responded to Williams’ comments with a more direct jab at the long time defensive coordinator. Time will only tell if the bad blood makes it to the teams’ scheduled get-together in December.

But any flare-ups, references to Adams, or unnecessary rekindlings of the New York-Seattle rivalry that has been dormant since the 2001 ALCS is the last thing that the Jets need. Thus, it’s time to let Adams go.

As more Jets take to the practice fields, questions will continue to rise about Adams’ impact on the team or lack thereof. His ex-compatriots on the secondary will be asked how much they’ll miss him. Answering those questions is fine, but they can’t do what Williams did and start a verbal scuffle on the other side of the country. Once the first few practices of the post-Adams experience commence, the Jets need to focus only on New York…the green side of it, anyway.

“I’m not going to give a gauge on that, but hopefully we’re pretty (expletive) close,” linebacker Jordan Jenkins said in another report from Costello when asked about how close the Jets are to a breakout. “It’s ultimately up to us to decide whether to go out and do it. All the talking is done. It’s time for us to go out and do it.”

Jenkins is exactly right: only the Jets can control their future fortunes. Adams has nothing to with it. Let’s act that way.

New York Jets, Jordan Jenkins
 (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Williams has been a rare, silver lining in this infantile era, one that has had Jets fans and players alike ready to run into a brick wall. But going after Adams reeks of sour grapes, which is the last thing they need this season.

This 2020 campaign is going to present new, and hopefully temporary, challenges for each of the NFL’s 32 teams. The Jets are a team starting to open a new decade on the right note. Their infamous moniker of “same old Jets” has been earned through not just losing, but losing through ways that are entirely avoidable and over-the-top. Pining after Adams and trying to get in the last word is the type of move that can define a season and set things off on the completely wrong foot.

Even without the challenges of working through a global health crisis, this was going to going to be a season that’d be awkward for the New York Jets. Making the playoffs was going to be a challenge, even with an extra invitation being sent out to each conference. This was going to be a year for the Jets to find themselves, a chance to build for the future, a chance for players, many of whom are on affordable single-year contracts, to prove why they should be allowed to stay for the (potential) glory days ahead. There may be heavier consequences for some…a make-or-break year for Adam Gase isn’t one for Sam Darnold…but there’s still a chance to earn mini-celebrations through development and growth.

This year, if and when we’re allowed to complete it, is a chance to prepare for a new decade, for a future. The last thing the Jets can afford to do is spend its first chapter fixated on the past.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags