New York Giants: Saquon Barkley Speaks On Big Ten Cancellation

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

The Big Ten Conference is set to not play football this year. For some of the players on the New York Giants, including Saquon Barkley, that’s sad news to hear. The Big Ten has obviously produced  a large number of NFL players, but a lot of current ones will miss their chance to improve their draft stock this year.

For Barkley, that also means there won’t be a chance to watch his alma mater this year – others such as Nick Gates and Jabrill Peppers are in the same boat. On Monday, Barkley spoke to the press about his thoughts. Mainly, he pointed out the negative effect the decision to cancel football will have on players that are entering the draft.

“It sucks to not be able to see those guys out there, especially those younger guys… People talk about the example of Joe Burrow was supposed to be a sixth or seventh round pick and then ended up being the number one pick in the draft. I definitely feel bad for those guys,” Barkley said.

The college football season is supposed to start in a couple weeks at this point. But like the NFL season, nothing is certain. Either season could still be called off at this point. It looks like the college game is closer to missing the 2020 season than the NFL is.

But Barkley seemed to believe the NFL season will still happen.

“At the end of the day, I’m just happy and fortunate that in the NFL we get to go out and do it. You have to be careful, you have to be smart. This is a tough thing that is going on in the world right now. Even though how badly you want to play and how bad I want to see those guys play, you also have to have a little understanding, I guess.”

If there’s no 2020 season for college football, we might see a spring season – delayed until next year, of course. As for how this would impact the NFL and the draft? Well, no one can exactly say that yet. This has never exactly happened before, after all. But for the Giants scouting department, it’s safe to say this college football season may be weird, if it happens at all.

UFC: Anderson Silva’s last fight could come against Uriah Hall

UFC, Anderson Silva

The career of one of the greatest fighters of all time is coming to a close. UFC President Dana White said in the post-fight press conference of the Contender Series that the promotion was working on the “last fight” for Anderson Silva (34-10, 1 NC).

The Spider was once considered universally to be the greatest MMA fighter to have ever lived. However, his 1-6, 1 NC stretch over the last seven years has changed a lot of minds. Without a doubt, the former UFC middleweight champion is still one of the best to ever do it.

White said that the promotion was looking at another striker for his final fight. One opponent that White likes is Uriah Hall (15-9).

UFC 198 Throwback

“We’re working on a fight for him (Silva) coming up soon here…He will fight again. I met with his managers the other day. This will be his last fight…We’re talking about putting him in a very competitive fight that should be fun… Uriah Hall,” White said to the media.

Believe it or not, this would not be the first time that these two men were paired up. These two were initially supposed to fight at UFC 198 a few years back. However, a last minute injury forced Silva off the card in Brazil.

When Uriah Hall was on the Ultimate Fighter, many people remarked that he reminded them of Silva. Silva was the UFC‘s gold standard at that point in time. The way Hall was knocking people out, you couldn’t help but dream about a fight between the two men.

Of course we know that since that time, it hasn’t been smooth sailing for either man. Hall has never really lived up to his hype, while Silva has been sliding as he’s gotten older.

One More Fight

Silva turned 45 this year and really has nothing left to prove. He’s simply fighting because it’s what he loves to do. While he’s not at the top of the sport anymore, he proved at UFC 234 that he can still hang with the best.

Silva put up a very competitive performance against the current UFC middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya. Hall was initially scheduled to fight Yoel Romero this week, but that fight fell through with Romero pulling out.

Hall has won two straight fights and a win over a big name like Anderson Silva would really get some momentum behind him. I still would love to see Hall and Romero fight, but for now, I think I could live with seeing one of the all time greats compete in a striking match with Primetime Uriah Hall.

New York Yankees: Very little good news and mostly bad news in first home loss to Tampa Bay

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

The New York Yankees faced off against the Tampa Bay Rays in the first game for three-game series on Tuesday evening. After sweeping the Red Sox in four games, the Yankees hosted the Rays without their three best players. Proceeding without Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and DJ LeMahieu, the offense simply wasn’t strong enough to battle against a dominant Tampa pitching corps.

This was the first loss of the season at home for the Bombers, with their overall record dropping to 16-7.

The Yanks will feature Gerrit Cole on the mound in game two on Wednesday, providing the men in pinstripes a bit more pitching support.

Final Score: 6-3

Here’s the good news and bad news for the New York Yankees following the loss:

GOOD NEWS:

There wasn’t much good news in the Yankees’ loss to Tampa. The offense was stale, and starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka faltered miserably in his fourth start of the 2020 season.

Luke Voit, who lead off for the first time in his career, hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning to pull the Yankees within three. Prior to Voit going deep, Gary Sanchez pulled an inside fastball to left field 419 feet. He put the Yankees on the board after two passed balls that allowed the Rays to tack on some runs.

Nick Nelson pitched 3.0 innings allowing just one hit, striking out two batters. He looks phenomenal in relief, earning himself more playing time in the near future.

BAD NEWS:

The bad news boils down to starting pitching for the Yankees. Tanaka pitched 4.0 innings, allowing eight hits, five earned runs, and two homers. He increased his ERA from sub -3.00 to 4.60. The Yankees have already been struggling with their starting pitching, only depending on Cole to produce quality outings. Tanaka has been decent so far this year, but being thrashed against by Tampa is a massive wake up call for the Yankees.

In fact, it might force them to test the trade market for starting pitching, as the probability of making a World Series appearance with the current starting unit is low.

Injury wise, LeMahieu is still a ways away from returning to the lineup, and Giancarlo Stanton is at least three weeks out. On the bright side, slugger Aaron Judge enjoyed batting practice prior to Tuesday’s match up, showing he is ready to return.

New York Mets: Offense Puts the Game Away Late in 8-3 Victory

Tuesday’s game for the New York Mets started with some worry as David Peterson landed on the 10-day Injured List with left shoulder fatigue. Corey Oswalt received the spot start and survived long enough that the Mets offense gave him the support he needed.

Oswalt lasted 4.1 innings, allowing five hits, two runs, no walks, and striking out four Marlins. He retired nine in a row at one point before running into trouble in the fourth inning. For a spot start on late notice, it was about the best the Mets could ask for. Justin Wilson, Jared Hughes, and Dellin Betances had shutout outings after Oswalt exited.

Edwin Diaz had a chance to finish off the victory but labored through his one inning of work. Francisco Cervelli led off with a double and a couple of infield singles, with a throwing error from Diaz got the Marlins a run. From that point, Diaz calmed himself down to strike out the final three batters he faced to end the game.

Plenty of Offense

For the second consecutive night, the Mets offense gave their pitching plenty of runs to work with. Brandon Nimmo led the way, finishing just a double short of the cycle. Amed Rosario had a much-needed breakout night with the bat. He recorded his second home run of the season and drove in three runs. Every Met in the starting lineup except Jeff McNeil and Tomas Nido recorded a hit.

The Mets went 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base. When the offense records multiple hits w/RISP then they can live with a night like this. The issues arise when they record zero or one hit in these critical situations.

Jacob deGrom returns to the mound on Wednesday as he tries to make it three straight Mets victories. Pablo Lopez opposes him at 7:10 p.m. ET from Marlins Park.

New York Yankees: Tanaka struggles at home against Tampa

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka was not his best on Tuesday night versus the Rays. Tanaka was tasked with the series opening start, but things didn’t go well at all.

He went just four innings, giving up eight hits and six runs. No free passes were allowed, and he struck out just two.

The first two innings of the ballgame were pretty pain free. He faced the minimum while throwing just 28 pitches. Once the third inning rolled around, things got ugly.

Tanaka got the first out of the inning, then gave up four consecutive hits. Two of the hits left the ballpark, giving the Rays a 4-0 lead. An unearned run was on Tanaka’s watch in the fourth inning due to a Gary Sanchez passed ball, but gave up a home run to leadoff the fifth, ending his night.

Tanaka lasted just 71 pitches. He was obviously struggling, but it was still his longest outing of the year. 66 pitches was his previous longest outing, just last start. A lot of it has to do with easing him back in after his head injury during Summer Camp.

Overall, Tanaka hasn’t been as productive as Yankee fans have hoped in 2020. He’s lacked innings and hasn’t had his best stuff. His strikeout numbers aren’t where they should be as his season-best is just five right now.

The Yankees need more length out of Tanaka. With the short season, there’s already more pressure on the bullpen and the last thing the team needs is to wear out the relievers too early with too many short starts.

New York Giants takeaways from 2nd practice: Corey Ballentine scary injury, Andrew Thomas beat up, McKinney making plays

New York Giants, Xavier McKinney

The New York Giants held their second padded practice of the 2020 training camp period on Tuesday afternoon. After an intense first day filled with F-bombs and consequential laps, the Giants increased the intensity in session two.

In one physical drill, defenders lined up at the goal line with offensive players lined up several yards out. The goal of this drill was to meet in the middle and try to get into the end zone. With wide receiver Austin Mack facing off against cornerback Corey Ballentine, the two viciously went head-to-head. Ballentine went to the ground holding his shoulder, with medical trainers nearly bringing out a cart to drag him off the field.

Luckily, he was able to get up shortly after, and even return to practice despite the severity of the injury. Drills as physical as these run the risk of injury, but having experience in those situations is essential for success.

On a brighter note, safety Xavier McKinney recorded an interception off quarterback Colt McCoy. Moving up to the line of scrimmage, he secured a tipped pass, exciting the defense and showing off his playmaking ability. In 2019 with Alabama, McKinney recorded seven turnovers, including three interceptions and four forced fumbles. The Giants drafted him in the second round to replace Antoine Bethea at free safety, but his ability to move around the defense makes him extremely versatile and valuable.

The ultimate goal is to maximize his talent and apply him in multiple safety positions. With Jabrill peppers and Julian Love also on the roster, the Giants can get creative on defense moving forward.

A bright spot from the New York Giants’ 2nd padded practice:

Remember those consequential laps we mentioned? Cam Brown and running back Wayne Gallman ran laps for lack of hustle during practice. Brown specifically was yelled at by LB coach Brett Bielema; he cussed at him as he carried out his laps.

My favorite quote following the practice from New York Giants’ Joe Judge:

“If we think the Pittsburgh Steelers are coming here to hug us, we’re sadly mistaken. We have to train these guys to be physical.”

Andrew Thomas was also beaten up by Leonard Williams and Lorenzo Carter. At one point, Thomas was put on his behind by a Carter bull-rush. While he did have some success, he was mostly tossed around by the Giants’ experienced players. Nonetheless, it’s just his 2nd padded practice so there’s nothing to worry about, he will learn as time goes on.

Fight monitor:

Shane LeMieux nearly got into a fight with RJ McIntosh but things were de-escalated.

UFC: Derrick Lewis – Curtis Blaydes to headline Fight Night on November 28th

The UFC is finalizing a very important fight for the heavyweight division for November. Per Brett Okamoto, “The Black Beast” Derrick Lewis (24-7, 1 NC) will be taking on Curtis “Razor” Blaydes (14-2, 1 NC) on November 28th.

UFC Title Eliminator?

The fight between Blaydes and Lewis pairs together the UFC‘s second and fourth ranked contenders at heavyweight. UFC 252 saw Stipe Miocic retain his title, and now the dominoes in the division are starting to fall into place.

Derrick Lewis just became the heavyweight knockout king at UFC Vegas 6 with his stoppage over Alexey Oleynik. Lewis came out like a bat out of hell in the second round to stop Oleynik in 21 seconds.

The win was Lewis’ third straight win. Lewis also has wins over Ilir Latifi and Blagoy Ivanov in this winning streak. Lewis is one of the more popular fighters in the UFC, and you can bet fans are hoping he gets another crack at UFC gold one day.

A big road block stands in his way in Curtis Blaydes. Blaydes is coming off of a decision win over Alexander Volkov back in June at UFC on ESPN 11. It wasn’t the prettiest performance, but Blaydes got the job done.

The win was the fourth in a row for Blaydes. Since his UFC debut back in 2016, the only man to defeat Blaydes inside the octagon is current top contender, Francis Ngannou. Ngannou has stopped Blaydes twice.

The fight between Lewis and Blaydes will likely determine who will get a title shot in early 2021. It’s clear that Ngannou will get the next shot unless the UFC pivots to Jon Jones. Either way, the Lewis – Blaydes fight has massive title picture implications.

New York Giants: Dexter Lawrence Ready To Break Out In 2020

New York Giants, Dexter Lawrence

The New York Giants have built one of the best, young defensive lines in the NFL since 2018. General manager Dave Gettleman has put a heavy emphasis on building through the trenches, investing tons of assets into the defensive line. Since 2018, here is what the Giants have invested into their defensive line: a 2018 third-round pick, a 2018 fifth-round pick, a 2019 first-round pick, a 2019 seventh-round pick, a 2020 third-round pick and 2021 fifth-round pick in a trade to acquire Leonard Williams, and a $16.1 million franchise tag on Leonard Williams. Additionally, the Giants already had a 2017 second-round pick invested in Dalvin Tomlinson.

This long list of investments has paid off for the Giants. Their defensive line is loaded with talented players entering 2020. The Giants’ defensive line could be dominant in 2020. But the most exciting player in this position group is Dexter Lawrence. Lawrence was a first-round pick for the Giants just last year but he already looks like one of the team’s best players.

Why Dexter Lawrence Will Break Out This Year

Dexter Lawrence was great as a rookie in 2019. But he will be even better in 2020. Last season, Dexter Lawrence played and started in all 16 games, totaling 38 combined tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks. Dexter was an underrated pass-rusher coming out of college, and he definitely flashed some potential as a pass-rusher last season.

But Dexter Lawrence’s biggest strength is his performance in run defense. Dexter received the honor of making Pro Football Focus’s 2019 All-Rookie Team. PFF states that Lawrence’s 76.3 run-defense grade ranked 21st among 117 qualifying interior defenders last season.

Lawrence uses his ginormous stature to dominate in run defense. Last year, Dexter was logged in at 6 feet 4 inches and 340 pounds. But according to the man himself, that will not be his playing weight in 2020. Losing weight was something Lawrence focused on this offseason:

“I got a personal trainer, we focused on eating, portion control, I got a chef. I didn’t really like my build last year (when his listed weight was 342 pounds). This year I tried to focus on losing a little bit of weight just so I can be better on the field. I’m out there running a lot better than I did last year. That’s just the goal for me each year. Feel better and be better.” – Dexter Lawrence via Giants.com 8/18/20

This is potentially big news for Dexter Lawrence. Being lighter on his feet will allow Dexter to improve as a pass-rusher. It could also improve his stamina and make him more efficient in the fourth quarter, something he mentioned to the media. Dexter Lawrence will break out in 2020 with a leaner build and improved skills with a season of experience under his belt.

New York Yankees: Chapman shakes off the rust in first game back

New York Yankees, Aroldis Chapman

Prior to Monday’s game against the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman looked somewhat rusty after a prolonged absence due to a positive COVID-19 test. The Bombers ended up winning 6-3 against their archrivals, but the Cuban Missile allowed some damage.

Fortunately, Chapman didn’t put the victory in jeopardy and was able to finish off the game, allowing one run on two hits while striking out two in a non-save situation. The lefty has been a force from the bullpen his whole career and had a 2.21 ERA and 37 saves in 2019.

Upon returning to the team, New York Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone clarified that despite Zack Britton’s success while filling in for Chapman as the ninth-inning man, the Cuban will be the closer from this point forward.

“We’ll build him up slowly this first week as far as by not having him do any back-to-backs or anything like that,” said Boone to MLB.com. “We’ll kind of monitor him this week, but in a save situation, he’ll be in there.”

The Yankees’ Cuban Missile showed his trademark fastball velocity

Despite the imperfect outing, Chapman’s trademark fastball velocity was in vintage form: his heater touched 101.3 miles per hour against Rafael Devers in the final at-bat of the game.

“I never worry about [velocity],” Chapman said through an interpreter after the game. “I was able to work the whole time. It was key for me to keep on working, keep on training. So in my mind, I was never worried about it.”

Chapman explained that he only experienced mild symptoms of coronavirus upon his diagnosis, early in Summer Camp. He lost smell and taste, but was nevertheless able to keep working out.

“Luckily, I felt good throughout the whole time in quarantine,” Chapman said through an interpreter. “I had to get creative. I had to purchase some equipment and move some stuff around the apartment to try to get as close as I could to my regular workout routine.”

Luke Voit says the Yankees have the “deepest team” in baseball

New York Yankees, Luke Voit

Fresh after hitting two home runs to help the New York Yankees complete a sweep of their archrivals, the Boston Red Sox, on Monday, Luke Voit praised the club for its enormous depth and overall talent.

Voit, traded to the Yankees near the end of the 2018 season, keeps justifying the investment that the club made in him. He may not be a Gold Glover at first base, but boy, he can hit with the best of them.

“We have the deepest team in baseball,” Voit said. “Guys are coming up and providing us with innings, at-bats, everything. It’s really impressive. I’ve never been on a team that’s had this much depth. Guys have stepped in for big-time All-Star players and have done really well.”

Thairo Estrada and Aaron Hicks also homered in the Yankees’ 6-3 victory, which helped them improve to 10-0 in the Bronx this season.

“That’s unique in the history of this rivalry,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I just think it’s a stretch where we’ve had a few really good series against them. They’ve had some things not go their way, so I don’t put a whole lot into it.”

The Yankees are enjoying a healthy Voit

Now healthy after a core muscle injury halted his season in 2019, Voit lost weight but not his trademark power.

“Luke is a guy that can do a lot of damage,” Hicks said to MLB.com. “He’s starting to prove that now. He’s very important to this team, especially now. We’ve got a couple of guys on the IL and he’s going to be very important to us.”

The Yankees’ first baseman has a total of four multihomer games in his career, two of which have come against the Sox.

“It’s a big-time series every time you play these guys. We always bring it,” Voit said. “They’ve been fighting the injury bug, too, but we’ve had guys come up and step up. They’ve had a lot of pitching guys going up and down. We’re locked in and it doesn’t matter who it is. We’ll be ready to go.”