UFC Vegas 10 Recap: Michelle Waterson edges Angela Hill in an instant classic

Tonight, the UFC hosted it’s tenth fight night from their APEX facility. It was a night full of fantastic matchups. In the main event of the evening, there was a highly anticipated matchup between strawweights Michelle Waterson (17-8) and Angela Hill (12-8)

The two top 15 UFC strawweights were looking to take the next step towards title contention tonight. Both were coming off of losses in their last UFC contest, but a win for either, would be a big step in the right direction.

Waterson and Hill deliver in an instant classic

Both of these ladies came to fight tonight. The two top UFC strawweight contenders both had big moments in the fight. I was blown away early on by Angela Hill’s hands early on in the fight. In the first round, her hands looked extremely crisp.

Waterson then came back in the second round with some solid adjustments. Hill was still landing big shots, but Waterson shifted to using more of her hands which found her some success. Both ladies were putting on an incredible pace while throwing big shots at the other in the first two rounds.

In the third round, Hill really started letting her hands go. She bloodied Waterson’s nose, but the Karate Hottie landed a big takedown that changed the course of the round. Waterson dominated the third round with her superior grappling.

In the fourth round, Waterson really tried to get the fight back to the ground. However, Hill did a fantastic job of defending. Both ladies had some really good moments on the feet in the fourth round. I had the fight even going into the final round.

The final round featured these top UFC strawweights not giving an inch. Both ladies were throwing everything that they had trying to put a stamp on the victory. The final round was razor close, but I did lean towards Hill with her work in the final minute.

The judges ended up scoring the fight for Michelle Waterson (49-46, 48-47, 47-48). Hill has now lost two straight razor close split decisions that could have gone her way. A massive win for Michelle Waterson who snaps her two fight losing streak.

UFC Vegas 10 Results

UFC Vegas 10 delivered a very solid night of fights. One of the standouts was Bobby Green (27-10-1), who won his third fight in the last three months. Green defeated Alan Patrick by unanimous decision. Last year, Green seemed content with walking away from the sport, and now he’s on a massive career resurgence in 2020.

Andrea Lee (11-5) and Roxanne Modafferi (25-17) had an extremely entertaining fight. The two top ten UFC flyweight contenders went back and forth over three rounds. In the end, Modafferi was able to secure a unanimous decision. The third straight close loss for Lee.

In the co-main event of the evening, Ottman Azaitar (13-0) blew me away. The bulldozer came in undefeated, but he was an underdog to Khama Worthy (16-7) who had won seven straight fights. Azaitar ran through Worthy knocking him out in the first round.

 

History is Against the Giants This Monday Night

New York Giants, John Mara

The New York Giants host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football to open their 2020 regular season schedule this week. If you are a fan of the Giants and history, you will not like their odds.

Las Vegas oddsmakers have made the Giants a home underdog by six points in this game and rightfully so. They really haven’t shown a whole lot in Monday games in the 51-year history of the venture. Some context courtesy of the Giants PR dept…

  • The Giants are 25-41-1 on Monday Night Football, including 9-11 at home. They lost both of their Monday night games last season, vs. Dallas and at Philadelphia.
  • Pittsburgh has an enviable Monday night record: 48-24, a .667 winning percentage that is second in the NFL to Seattle’s .722. But the Seahawks (26-10) have played exactly half as many games as the Steelers. Under 14-year coach Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh is 15-2 on Monday nights and 41-22 in all night games.
  • This will be the second Monday night meeting between the Giants and Steelers and the first in 29 years. On Oct. 14, 1991, Matt Bahr’s 44-yard field goal with four seconds remaining gave the defending Super Bowl champion Giants a 23-20 victory in Three Rivers Stadium.
  • The Giants will host Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night, Nov. 2. This season marks the first time the Giants will host two Monday night games in the same season in the 51-year history of Monday Night Football.

The Giants really shouldn’t have any nationally televised games give the fact they are 12-36 over the last three seasons. But….the NFL is anticipating sagging ratings and needs the New York Metro Area market to maintain some stability.

Again, football fans love matchups of ancient NFL rivals. A bit of history as I wrote in USA Today this week:

  • The Giants lead the series, 44-30-3.
  • The Giants and Steelers were common foes from 1933 through 1969,, playing time yearly for many seasons before the Steelers shifted over to the new American Football Conference along with the Baltimore Colts and Cleveland Browns in 1970 as part of the NFL-AFL merger.
  • Before the merger, the teams met 67 times, with the Giants leading in the series 40-24-3. Since the merger, they’ve only met 10 times in the last 50 seasons with the Steelers winning six.

Let’s not forget the common bond the Giants and Steelers have. Chris Mara, younger brother of CEO John Mara and Giants SVP of Player Personnel is married to the granddaughter of Art Rooney, the founding owner of the Steelers. They have four children, most notable actresses Kate and Rooney Mara, who have an interest on both teams.

History and tradition ar a good way to lure NFL fans back in these trying times and this matchup could be the perfect one to get the ball rolling.

New York Mets: Offense Held Silent in 3-2 Loss to Blue Jays

Amed Rosario, New York Mets

The New York Mets could not produce the same way the did in their 18-1 victory on Friday night. All the Blue Jays needed were three runs off Seth Lugo to secure themselves a 3-2 victory to even up the series at one game apiece

Lugo was dominant through the first three innings of his start. He held the Blue Jays to a single and struck out four. The following 2.1 innings had a different story for Lugo as he seemed to progressively lose steam and the feel for his curveball as his pitch count rose.

Lugo gave up a run in each of the last three innings he pitched along with six hits. His curveball hung in the fourth inning and struggled to a point where he barely used it for the rest of the start. His velocity also sat around 92-94 with the occasional 95. It was not a great start for Lugo, but it certainly put the Mets in a position to win.

Ray Too Much to Handle

One year ago, Robbie Ray did not get out of the first inning against the Mets. It was the only bad start Ray has made against them and he found his groove early. Ray held the Mets to one run over five innings and struck out five. His money pitch was his slider and used it often as he got deeper in his start. The start was much needed for Ray and lowered his season ERA to 6.85.

Jake Marisnick provided the only run off Ray with a double in the fourth inning. Unfortunately later in the game, Marisnick had to leave the game with right hamstring issues. It was the same injury that kept him sidelined early in the season.

The only other run came on a gift when Joe Panik fumbled a double play transfer allowing Wilson Ramos to score in the seventh inning.

Amed Rosario had a good game with three hits but he showed once again why he is not an everyday player. After getting first base with a gift wild pitch strikeout, he fails to advance on a ball in the dirt then proceeds to get picked off to end the game with the red hot Jeff McNeil at the plate.

A pair of lefties square off in a 3:07 p.m. ET start time as David Peterson faces Hyun-Jin Ryu in the final game of the series.

New York Liberty: Kiah Stokes sets career record in penultimate 2020 game

Kiah Stokes’ summer of shooting allowed her to set a new career-best in the New York Liberty’s penultimate game of the 2020 season.

Trips to Florida can provide full of life-changing experiences. Visiting the Sunshine State for business purposes, Kiah Stokes has had one in her return to the New York Liberty.

The Liberty fell to the Washington Mystics on Saturday by a 75-58 final in their penultimate game in the WNBA’s Bradenton bubble. But personal history awaited Stokes, who tallied all of her 15 points on five successful attempts from three-point range. Stokes tied for the lead in scoring with Kia Nurse.

“I was excited to get a new feel for everything. Basically, for as long as I had been in New York it was Tina Charles’ team,” Stokes said of her new role as both a shooter and veteran leader. “I was a little nervous going into this season, but I think Walt Hopkins has done a great job with the system. He’s really put a lot of confidence in me.”

“It was nervous for me in the beginning, but the coaching staff and all my teammates have a lot of confidence in me. I’m thankful for that, thankful for the coaching staff putting me in this position, trying to expand my game.”

In her fifth season, Stokes is by far one of the longest-tenured players on the current Liberty roster. She maintained a traditional interior prescience in her first few seasons, becoming the Liberty’s all-time leading in blocks in 2018. After spending all of last season overseas, Stokes joined the Liberty (2-19) for their Floridian adventure overseen by new head coach Walt Hopkins.

Under Hopkins, Stokes developed a new role as a shooter, particularly from three-point range. The Connecticut alumna took over three shots since her WNBA entry in 2015. She’s taken 83 this time around with one game to go.

“She’s been doing what she’s been doing from three. The shots went down for her tonight. She sees one go in, that helps her confidence,” Hopkins said. “We’ve been trying to tell everybody about how much we believe in her. I was really happy she was able to have that day from three.”

The shots fell on Saturday for Stokes, who helped the Liberty keep pace with the defending champion Mystics. Even in defeat, the New Yorkers were happy to revel in Stokes’ big day.

“We’ve been seeing her shoot the ball like that in practice since we got here, since day one,” Nurse said. “We’ve been really encouraging her to keep shooting it and knocking down three’s like we know she can. It was fun to see her go on that little run she had today.”

Washington (8-13) was able to secure a split in their pair with the Liberty. The Mystics are current holders of the eighth and final playoff spot in the bubble standings. They can clinch with a win in Sunday’s season finale proceedings or if the Liberty beat the Dallas Wings in the first of three games across the league (12 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Go/CBSSN).

Myisha Hines-Allen had a double-double for the Mystics, tallying 25 points and 11 rebounds. Washington pulled away with a 21-11 advantage in the third quarter, with nine of the New York points scored by Stokes. The Liberty had a bit of a scare in the second quarter when star rookie Jazmine Jones left the game with an ankle injury, but she returned after the halftime break. Jones, the final pick of the WNBA draft’s first round, made her first career WNBA start.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Yankees’ Aaron Boone delivers hilarious answer to checking in on Aroldis Chapman on the mound

New York Yankees, Aroldis Chapman

The Yankees have finally strung together some games in the win column, after embarking on a five-game losing streak last week. They have since won four straight including three straight over the Baltimore Orioles. A shift in mentality and confidence has been a catalyst behind their recent success, and slugger Luke Voit has been a primary piece to the puzzle.

Voit hit a sacrifice fly that drove in DJ LeMahieu on Saturday afternoon, securing a 2-1 win.

However, one funny moment occurred just before the Yankees got up to bat. Closer Aroldis Chapman was on the mound when manager Aaron Boone went out to pay him a visit. Boone was asked immediately after the game about the mound visit, in which he stated “mother nature calls sometimes.”

In other words, it seemed as if Chapman had to use the bathroom. Immediately after he got out of the inning, he turned to center field and made a funky face. We can all imagine where he headed once getting to the dugout.

Yankees’ Jordan Montgomery shows clear frustration being pulled from game, Boone shoves finger in his chest

New York Yankees, Jordan Montgomery

New York Yankees’ pitcher Jordan Montgomery had just finished a solid outing before manager Aaron Boone seemed to be distressed when pulling him from the game. In 5.2 innings pitched, Montogomery allowed just one run (unearned) on three hits. He fanned nine batters and issued just one walk.

Montgomery was only at 72 pitches when Boone came out to pull him from the game. It looked like Montgomery said something to Boone as he was walking up to the mound and then Boone put his pointer finger on Monty’s chest.

This could have either been a disagreement between Montgomery and Boone on why he’s being pulled from the game, or Boone could have been telling him to keep his head up despite the low pitch count.

Prior to this game, Montgomery was holding a 2-2 record and a 5.72 ERA through seven games started. In his last start, he only lasted 3.2 innings against the Blue Jays and the start prior, he lasted just .2 innings where he allowed four runs on five hits to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Fortunately, the Yankees pulled out the win in the end. Hot-hitting Luke Voit hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield which knocked in DJ LeMahieu for the winning run. The Yankees extended their winning streak to four games in a row and improved their record to 24-21. The Yanks are currently sitting in third place for the AL East, chasing the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays. The Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox are sitting at the bottom of the standings.

New York Yankees: Good news and bad news following third-straight win over Baltimore

New York Yankees, Jordan Montgomery

After sweeping the Baltimore Orioles in a doubleheader on Friday, the New York Yankees backed up impressive performances with a victory on Saturday afternoon. The 1 PM game featured Jordan Montgomery on the mound for the Bombers, who lasted 5.2 innings and gave up three hits and one run. He earned a career-high nine strikeouts over 72 pitches.

However, when manager Aaron Boone walked out to the mound to take the ball from Montgomery, he showed clear frustration and shook his head in disagreement.

Nonetheless, the relief pitchers for the Yankees performed well, limiting Baltimore to just one hit over four innings.

FINAL SCORE: 2-1

Good news and bad news for the New York Yankees:

GOOD NEWS:

While the offense failed to spark on Saturday, the starting pitching for the Yankees has been excellent the past four games. They are currently on a four-game winning streak, three of them coming against Baltimore. Montgomery, who struggled in his last start, looked fantastic. He only threw 72 pitches, which was clearly an indication of a pitch count or that Boone wants a quick turnover to his next appearance.

Offensively, the Yankees only totaled five hits, one more than the Orioles, but a sack fly by Luke Voit drove in DJ LeMahieu for the winning run.

With the Yankees set to gain back Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton next weekend, they can finally bench some of their more inadequate reserve players at the plate.

BAD NEWS:

The bad news, the offense didn’t perform well on Saturday. Aside from LeMahieu scoring both runs for the Yankees, they totaled eight strikeouts, two coming from Thairo Estrada. Gary Sanchez is looking far better in recent days, hitting the ball well despite only recording one hit over three at-bats on the day. Mike Tauchman has disappeared at times, failing to reach the base paths over four at-bats.

Ultimately, Judge will replace Tauchman in right field, and Stanton will fill the designated hitter spot. This might force Clint Frazier back into a reserve role, but it will give them some of their best offensive weapons back. The Yankees are currently in a wild-card spot, set to make the playoffs, but could use some more cushion heading into the latter portion of the 2020 regular season.

The New York Jets can take advantage of an unusual trap game

It could be a trying season for the New York Jets. But Sunday’s opener in Buffalo presents a most intriguing opportunity.

The return of NFL football will no doubt bring with it the resurrection of football cliches, decorating socially distanced Sunday watch parties like tinsel and swags at Christmas. Among the emerging tropes will be fans channeling their inner Admiral Akbar and warning of a trap.

It seems unusual to push a Week 1 contest into the trap game zone, but remember, it’s 2020…nothing’s unusual at this point.

But that’s the case for the Buffalo Bills and their Sunday opener against the New York Jets (1 p.m. ET, CBS). Buffalo is perhaps the proverbial “preseason champion”, the darlings of every preview magazine and prognosticator headed into 2020. The rare silver lining of a playoff drought that nearly became old enough to legally drink is that you’re free from the burden of expectations.

Over the past three seasons, the Bills took advantage. They’ve gone 25-23 (good for seventh-best in the AFC) and earned two playoff appearances to end a 17-year playoff absence. They’re still seeking their first postseason triumph since the 1995 wild card round, but it’s enough to hype fans and analysts alike about the new decade.

It starts with hyped talent on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Josh Allen has been shown to take over games with both his arms and feet. Cornerback Tre’Davious White is becoming the league’s new shutdown defender, his efforts rewarded with a $70 million contract extension this summer. They also welcome back developing stars Devin Singletary and Tremaine Edmunds, and the potential was enough to convince former NFC playoff hero Stefon Diggs to join the fold. The forward momentum has convinced many that the Bills are in the best position to usurp the AFC East throne from the New England Patriots. Topped with a fanbase that perhaps knows how to have fun better than anyone in the NFL, and the Bills are one of the most-talked-about teams in football.

It’s hype the Bills are trying to counter by focusing purely on themselves.

“I think the biggest thing is we just have to as a team focus on ourselves,” Edmunds said in a report from Mary Margaret Johnson of RochesterFirst.com. “That’s the biggest part. In this league, you put emphasis on the other team, but the majority of it just comes down to what you do as a team, how well you use your fundamentals. That’s the thing that we’ve been keying down on.”

“We literally live in the underdog mindset,” offensive lineman Dion Dawkins added in statements from Vic Carucci of Buffalo News. “That’s where we live, that’s where we breathe, that’s where we eat. We appreciate all of the love, but we worry about ourselves. People will talk good and people will talk bad, but as long as we just focus on the 2020 Buffalo Bills, the rest will be history.”

The Jets may be on the opposite end of the spectrum. A perpetual rebuild, one that hasn’t even produced a mere winning season since 2015, continues. There’s some legitimate hope in the form of two backfield saviors (Sam Darnold and Le’Veon Bell) and a revamped offensive line, but the potential for major growing pains looms on the horizon. But the 2020 season will require a few test runs to build chemistry, a process that was only lengthened by the elimination of preseason games. Finishing 8-8 would probably be the best-case scenario for this fledgling unit.

But this continuing procedure of rebuilding could be big if they’re able to top the Bills on Sunday.

Both the Jets and Bills are ensnared in interesting points on their respective franchise timelines. Tom Brady’s Florida project has offered a glimmer of hope to the team he and his New England buddies routinely bullied en route to a division monopoly.

Buffalo appears to be the team best in position to take advantage, but we’ve seen preseason darlings fall in ridiculous fashion far too many times in the past for Western New Yorkers to book Super Bowl tickets. This time last season, everyone was ogling the Cleveland Browns after the arrival of Odell Beckham Jr. Typical Cleveland antics ensued to the tune of a 6-10 record. We’ve heard enough about the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles, whose “dream team” aspirations became 8-8 anonymity.

The case for division supremacy is a little bit more personal from a Bills standpoint. It’s been a geographical fact that they’re the only team that plays its games in the state of New York, but when they opened last season with over both the Jets and New York Giants…each at MetLife Stadium…the Bills took full advantage of reminding the public of the “NY” attacked to their address.

Simply put, the Bills are riding high and mighty and the Jets need to stifle this before it truly gets out of hand. Planting even the tiniest seed of doubt would be a great way to do it.

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The annual pair between the Jets and Bills has rarely, if ever, been must-see television. It’s certainly not among the priority games on Sunday, even among the 1 p.m. ET batch. But the potential to create one of the most intense rivalries in recent NFL memory is there. The common battlegrounds of the heart of New York State and the attempt to claim New England’s crown are common goals that will be worth watching. Add the battle of 2018 draftees Allen and Darnold (who spent this offseason working out together in California), and you have the perfect recipe for a spicy rivalry that can extend into the later parts of the decade.

History dictates the Jets owe the Bills a bit of a favor. The Buffalo hype train began to board when they made up a two-touchdown deficit at MetLife Stadium against the Jets. One year prior, Matt Barkley’s career day (which included a touchdown toss to Dawkins) led to a 41-10 shellacking in East Rutherford. It was, in fact, the Bills that put the Jets on this tailspin when they took the final game of the 2015 season, one that wiped out a green playoff spot and rendered a 10-win season meaningless.

New York’s green team, underdogs they may be, has to take advantage of this unique situation.

The Jets know that a good number of prognosticators are counting them out of the season already. A good start would make a trying process go by a little sooner. While many players are in make-or-break situations on an individual level, the New York Jets brand has little to lose.

Week 1, frankly, could be their Super Bowl.

Hyperbolic as a Big Game comparison may be, the opener does hold special meaning for a Jets squad eager to prove people wrong. This season presents 16 opportunities to give the rest of the league a preview of what’s to come. It really doesn’t matter who that preview comes against. Opportunities against the most Super Bowl participants, the aforementioned Patriots, and Jamal Adams’ new crew in Seattle await. But if it came against the high-rolling Bills, the taste of NFL success might be a little sweeter.

“We’ve got a bunch of great, hard-working men in that locker room,” Jets rusher and former Bill Frank Gore told Brian Costello of the New York Post. “This camp, every day we went out and worked hard. Nobody complained. We all want to play for each other. We’re going to do whatever it takes to win.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Islanders: 3 Stars of the Game 3 Win

Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders have made the Eastern Conference Finals a real series. Game 3 was easily one of the most entertaining games of the 2020 playoffs. The Islanders played their hearts out, and it shows. A mix of desperation and frustration led them to clutch out the win. There were three stars that led the Islanders to victory last night. Their efforts did not go unrecognized, and honestly, I believe three stars are too little to show how good the Isles played last night. But, without further ado, here are the three stars of the night.

Semyon Varlamov

Amazing is almost an insult to how Semyon Varlamov played last night. Varly single handily kept the Islanders’ hopes alive. There were 3 or 4 sequences from the Lightning last night that should’ve been goals, but Varlamov stood on his head. I don’t know what changed for Varlamov from the regular season to the playoffs, but he’s just been fantastic. Even though he did let in 3 goals, there was a possibility it could’ve been 6. The Isles fans are 110% behind their outstanding goalie.

The 4th line

I have to include the entire 4th line here because, oh my god, what a game they played. J.G. Pageau was acting like a goon out there, and he’s a foot shorter than every other player. Not only did Pageau play like an enforcer, but he got an assist on the beautiful Adam Pelech goal and scored the empty-net goal. Don’t forget about the line clearing brawl at the end of the game. Victor Hedman had to save Kucherov from Pageau. Matt Martin continued his hot streak and played amazing defense. Great forechecking as well, as always, and he clocked Barclay Goodrow in the back of the head six times. Sydney Martin has got to be proud of her husband. Also, can’t forget about Cal Clutterbuck sniping Vasilevskiy to open up the scoring. 4th line looked amazing even without Casey Cizikas playing.

The “B” line

When the “B” line gets hot, it’s normally “goodnight Jim Kite.” Josh Bailey had two assists last night as he continues his quest for the Conn Smythe. Anthony Beauvillier scored last night on a beautiful play from Brock Nelson. Not only that, but Beauvillier assisted Nelson’s game-winning goal with a beautiful turn around pass. Brocktober came early Isles fans. Brock Nelson was in prime form last night and would win the game for the Isles. The second line continues to be dangerous.

Honorable Mention

Also, as an honorable mention, what a game for Adam Pelech. Pelech scored his first career playoff goal, so congratulations to him. It was a total snipe, and it got all the Islanders fans excited. Especially the #pelechposse created by Jake Basile (a.k.a. @BathtubJake on Instagram). Pelech was thumping too, a bunch of big hits for the big man. Great game from a shutdown defenseman.

New York Knicks: Randle-Conley swap unlikely as Jazz don’t want to compromise spacing

New York Knicks, Julius Randle

It appears the reported interest of the Utah Jazz on New York Knicks‘ forward Julius Randle will remain just a rumor.

Dennis Lindsey, the Utah Jazz VP of Basketball Operations, indirectly shut down the rumor involving Randle. He told reporters on Wednesday that their priority in the offseason is to bring in athletic defenders and floor spacers around their franchise cornerstones Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.

“Anybody who could obviously have defensive integrity at their position, can be an active, athletic defender will be someone that would interest to us, especially if they don’t compromise the spacing,” Lindsey told reporters via Zoom.

Earlier this week, a Randle for Mike Conley swap and draft considerations was floated around.

But the profile of the Jazz targets this coming offseason doesn’t fit Randle who became a subject of scrutiny in his first year in New York.

Randle, who signed a three-year deal worth $63 million, regressed this season as his ball-dominant and post-up style of play irked the fanbase and even some of his teammates according to an April report.

His three-point shooting dipped from 34.4% to 27.7% this season although that can also be attributed to his ill-fitted role as a leader in a team that lacked talent and floor spacers. His defensive rating of 111.6, 230th among forwards, isn’t something that can move the needle for the Jazz who went from having the second-best defensive rating in 2018-19 to 13th this season.

In the same interview, Lindsey also indirectly said that they will do everything to keep Mitchell and Gobert in Salt Lake City.

Mitchell, who was also linked to the Knicks because of his New York roots and CAA ties with the new team President Leon Rose, is expected to sign with the Jazz long-term as per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports earlier.

“I’m limited on what I can say in regards to extensions and renegotiations per NBA rules. With that said, we’re extremely pleased at who both of those players are as people,” Lindsey said.

Gobert’s $106-million, four-year contract extension he signed in 2016 is set to expire after next season while Mitchell is eligible to get a $170-million max contract extension over five years.

“It’s really, really hard to get core franchise-level talent in any market, big or small, but it’s exponentially hard to get that level of talent that has a high level of character and competitiveness. As I’ve mentioned before, we’re working to add players of Rudy and Donovan’s physical talent and competitive makeup and so by definition, we’re going to want to keep those types of players moving forward,” Lindsey added.