New York Yankees Previews: Yankees try for the sweep of the Blue Jays tonight at the Stadium

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

Tonight the New York Yankees will go for their second sweep in a row, this time against the Toronto Blue Jays at the stadium in the Bronx, New York. The Yankees have gone on a seven-game tear with their first win of the Blue Jays earlier in the month and hope to cap it off with a sweep of the Jays in this meeting.  In between, they swept the Baltimore Orioles in a four-game series.

Tonight will start off with the recently improved Masahiro Tanaka on the mound for the New York Yankees.  He will face the Blue Jay’s, Chase Anderson.  Tanaka has been on the uptick, whereas Anderson has recently declined. The Yankees have been on an offensive tear hitting 69 hits and 21 homers over the last eight games while having better than average pitching results.

Masahiro Tanaka is 2-2 and has reduced his ERA to 3.16 with 34 strikeouts over eight games. Tanaka got off to a slow start after being hit in the head with a comebacker late in summer camp. He has pitched quite well in his last three starts. In his last outing with the Baltimore Orioles on September 11.  He went five innings with 91 pitches, he gave up one earned run while striking out 5 Orioles. The Yankees scored ten runs in the Tanaka win.

The Yankees will face Chase Anderson of the Blue Jays.  Anderson is a righty that is 0-1 with a 5.82 ERA.  Anderson has had seven starts this year, never going more than five innings. He has allowed more than a hit per inning and has struck out 25 hitters in the seven games.  Recently, he has had some rough outings.  The Jays have lost the last four of his starts.  The most recent one was on September 11 against the Mets. He gave up four earned runs in just 2.2 innings. Only three Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMahieu, and Luke Voit, have faced Anderson in his career, and none of them have hit particularly well off of him.

Before this recent winning streak, the Yankees were behind the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays in the East. They have now overtaking the Jays and are just three games behind the Rays while pushing the Jays a game and a half back.  The Yankees are 7-3 in their last 10 games, and the Rays are 4-6.  It is mathematically possible that the Yankees can retake the lead in the East, but is improbable.  If the season ended today, the Yankees would first face the Minnesota Twins in the first round of the postseason.  The New York Yankees have won 13 straight postseason games against the Twins, the longest win streak by any team against a single opponent in postseason history.

Pandemic, Anthem Protests Cut Into NFL TV Ratings in Week 1

The New York Giants’ 2020 opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night seemed like an attractive television matchup but did not get the ratings the league, or ESPN, had hoped.

The game drew 10.8 million viewers on ESPN, but was down 21% from the early-game opener in Week 1 of last season. Viewers all but ignored the second game of the double-header, featuring the Tennessee Titans at the Denver Broncos. That game drew 7.7 million viewers, down 38% from the late game last year.

There are several reasons for the drop in attendance. The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted American life to the degree where there is a new normal, and television and sports are no longer priorities. Survival is. A lot of Americans are out of work, or working less, money is tight and sports isn’t really on their minds right now.

For the viewers who are operating at some sense of normalcy, many are turned off by the politicization of the National Anthem before games where players kneel in protest of the systemic mistreatment of Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement.

Since the Anthem and the Flag mean different things to different people many have misconstrued the protest as anti-American, just like they did when they saw the raised, black-gloved fists of Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the medal stand at the 1968 Olympics.

There is a large group of Americans who believe there is a time and a place for these type of actions and during the playing of the National Anthem is not one of them. What has gotten lost in this mess is that people have forgotten WHY players are protesting and just focus on THAT they are protesting.

I personally stand for the Anthem, but I have my reasons. I respect every American’s First Amendment rights and they are free to do whatever they feel they need to do to express themselves. But it when that expression infringes on the rights of others, that’s when things get sticky.

Hard core football fans and gamblers such as myself will always tune into the games. For me, it’s business, but I understand all sides of the argument. The NFL is already preparing to take a financial hit due to having no fans in the stands this year and were counting on television rating to buoy their revenues. So far, it doesn’t appear that will happen.



New York Yankees’ Clint Frazier has earned his spot

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

Back at the trade deadline in 2016, New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman decided to sell. He traded Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs and received Gleyber Torres. Cashman also traded Andrew Miller for Justus Sheffield and Clint Frazier.

While Sheffield was traded later for James Paxton, the Yankees have held onto Frazier. The former fifth overall pick in the MLB draft showed so much promise, and has always been known for his legendary bat speed. However, Frazier struggled to get a chance.

Anytime the Yankees were at full strength, Frazier would be behind the eight ball in the outfield. Despite many fans wanting the Yankees to give him the left field job over veteran Brett Gardner, Boone would keep Frazier on the bench or they’d keep him in AAA.

In 2019, Frazier really impressed many with his performance on the field. For the Yankees in 69 games, Frazier hit .267 with 12 home runs and 38 RBIs. However, his defense left a lot to be desired. Well, Frazier is finally blooming into the player many thought he could be in 2020.

The Yankees New Left Fielder

I can’t imagine the feelings that Clint Frazier was having when the Yankees told him this week that he’d continue to start. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton were both coming back this week which in the past meant Frazier would be heading to the bench.

However, not this time. Instead, veteran Brett Gardner is the one that’s heading to the bench. The Yankees‘ Red Thunder is finally getting to start when the team is at full strength. This is something that couldn’t stop Frazier from smiling during his post-game interview yesterday.

“There was definitely a moment tonight when I was smiling under my mask in left field. To go out there with the team at full strength meant a lot to me,” Frazier said to the media. There is no doubt about it that Frazier has earned this spot.

Again, the Yankees have been talking about his offensive potential for the last couple of years, but his defense is what has really impressed me thus far. Although, his offensive numbers are tremendous this year. Clint Frazier is the starting left fielder for the New York Yankees, and that shouldn’t be changing anytime soon.

Why Giants’ Evan Engram will bounce back in week 2 Vs the Bears

New York Giants, Evan Engram

The New York Giants had a tough game in week one against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but Evan Engram highlighted the evening with a terrible performance. Going into the 2020 season with heightened expectations coming off a foot injury that ended his 2019 campaign prematurely, he surely put up a dud in his comeback.

Having not played a game since the middle of last year, Engram was always going to have some rust. He dropped two passes, committing an offensive pass interference penalty, and failed to block even adequately in the run game. He was a liability in all facets, which could force the Giants to utilize Kaden Smith more frequently, moving forward.

Engram’s stat-line on the evening was seven targets, two receptions, and nine total yards. He logged a 28.6% catch-rate on 94% of offensive snaps. Overall, his production does not reflect the action he enjoyed against the Steelers. However, I believe he will bounce back strong against the Chicago Bears.

Before going down in 2019, he had hauled in 467 yards worth of offense and three touchdowns. He was trending in the right direction and probably would’ve had a career-year if not for his foot injury.

The New York Giants need their former first-round TE to find his sea legs:

Engram has never played a game against Chicago before, but shaking off the rust in week one should give him a better opportunity to re-establish himself on offense. A new scheme led by Jason Garrett will take time to grow in, but it is a tight end friendly system that should expand on his talents. Nonetheless, his run blocking was tumultuous and has been since his inception into the NFL. I don’t expect that factor to improve much, and the Giants might want to consider splitting him out wide as a wide receiver more frequently.

It is a known fact that his value comes in the receiving game, and he showed the same Evan Engram burst we are used to. On an impressive hook route, he left the cornerback carrying his momentum forward while Evan was in perfect position to secure a first down. Subsequently, he dropped the football, and the Giants went on to third and long. Making those plays is a necessity in the NFL, and we know Engram can complete them.

New York Yankees Recap: 7 Yankee homers power Gerrit Cole’s 100th win

New York Yankees, Kyle Higashioka

The New York Yankees, after scoring 20 runs off the Toronto Blue Jays, just a day ago, last night scored another 13 runs off the Blue Jays. It was Gerrit Cole’s 100th win in Cole’s career and the seventh straight win for the Yankees. The Blue Jays just haven’t been able to hold down the Yankees soaring power behind the plate. The Yankees scored their 13th run of Jays pitching in just two games. The Yankees will try for the sweep of the Jays tonight.

In just the past week, the New York Yankees fortunes have made a dramatic shift from losing multiple games in a row to winning multiple games. Just two weeks ago, the Yankees looked as if they might miss the postseason entirely.  Now the Yankees progressing to the postseason seems almost inevitable. It started with Luke Voit, firing up home runs, and it became infectious as more and more Yankees started hitting the long ball with men on base. Last night catcher Kyle Higashioka hit three homers in the game. Higashioka became only the fourth Yankee catcher to accomplish that feat; the others are Tony Lazzeri, Mike Stanley, and Gary Sanchez.

Gerrit Cole started the night in the first inning by striking out two jays and shutting them down with just ten pitches. Cole would go on to pitch seven innings for his second game in a row. He allowed three hits, with one earned run, two walks while striking out 8 Jays. Jonathan Loaisiga, in his return from the IL, pitched a clean eighth, and Nick Nelson pitched the ninth allow the Jays one more run. The winning pitcher was Gerrit Cole, and the loser was Tanner Roark, who the Yankees hammered for six runs.

The Yankee offense, as in recent games, got started early in the game. In the Yankees first inning, DJ LeMahieu stepped to the plate and hit the first ball he saw from Roark into the right-field stands. Next up was the returning Aaron Judge; Judge remained hitless in the game as did Giancarlo Stanton the night before, while they find their timing. Next up was Kyle Higashioka, who hit his first homer of the night, a two-bagger, and it was 3-0 Yankees. At the bottom of the fourth, Clint Frazier’s quick bat registered his home run far into the left-field bleachers. 4-0 New York Yankees.

DJ followed up in the Yankee’s fourth with his second long ball of the game, a two-run shot. Yankees 6-0. At the bottom of the fifth, Clint Frazier got his second RBI, driving in Aaron HIcks with a single. At the bottom of the sixth, “Higgy” hit his second homer of the night, a solo shot to left. Luke Voit followed in the sixth with a three-run long ball, making it 11-1 Yankees. Higashioka, in his fourth at-bat of the night, hit a two-run shot, his third homer of the night, making it 13-1 Yankees.  Higashioka when rounding the bases couldn’t help but have a broad smile on his face. The Jays got their second run of the night in the last at-bat of the game.  Joe Panik homered for the Jays.

After seven straight wins, the Yankees will again face the Jays in the series, finally at Yankee Stadium. Tonight Masahiro Tanaka will face Jay’s right-hander Chase Anderson.  The Yankees will then travel to Fenway Park for a weekend series with the Boston Red Sox.



New York Rangers D Libor Hajek confirms what the hockey world has anticipated

New York Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist

New York Rangers defenseman Libor Hajek detailed in an interview earlier this week what most have anticipated. Henrik Lundqvist believes he has played his last game wearing a Rangers sweater.

There has been little information made available with regard to the future of Henrik Lindqvist. He played in the first two qualifying round games against the Carolina Hurricanes, both losses, then backed up Igor Shesterkin when the Rangers were swept to end their pandemic extended season.

When the team traveled back home, Jeff Gorton reported that he advised Henrik Lundqvist the team would not go with a three goalie rotation next season. Henrik then departed for his home in Sweden with no further comment on the status of the 15-year veteran.

Hajek’s interview with Isport.CZ began with a discussion of his issues with insurance. Then the surprising comments were made about what the King said following the team’s last game played in the Toronto bubble.

Henrik Lundqvist
Photo via Isports.CZ

“He said he didn’t know what would happen to him if the Rangers bought him out or went somewhere else.”

Hajek went on to say,

“It was very sad. After the match with Carolina, he said goodbye, saying it was his last match.”

The young defenseman who struggled with a knee injury this past season was with the team when they played their qualifying round games.  He seemed to admire Henrik even admitting that he bought the same jeans that Hank wore in a personal comment in the interview.

Lundqvist has one year remaining on his seven-year, $59.5 million contract signed in 2013.  He started this season as the number one, but with the emergence of rookie Igor Shesterkin in January, the writing has been on the wall that this could be his last season on Broadway.

He hs a full no-trade clause and would have to approve any trade the team would like to make him part of. A buyout is more likely but regardless of how it happens, the face of the franchise and fan-favorite will not be in the future plans for the Blueshirts.

Frank Curto is on Twitter at @RangerProud