New York Giants: MetLife Stadium turf raises eyebrows ahead of week 3

The New York Giants are set to take on the 49ers in week 3 to avoid an 0-3 start. However, something other than the coming game is raising eyebrows. That’s the stadium and the condition of the turf. The Niners played their most recent game at MetLife Stadium, and it seems like the team isn’t happy with the turf quality.

While it might sound like San Francisco is complaining about something for the sake of complaining, they have a big reason behind these complaints. During their game with the Jets, there were a total of five leg injuries in the first half.

Obviously, that’s not an average amount of injuries for one half. Especially when all of those injuries are leg injuries in specific. When the list of injuries includes high profile players such as Nick Bosa and Jimmy Garoppolo, people are going to take note.

Multiple players from the 49ers have come out and said something on social media about the quality of the turf, or lack thereof.

According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the league is looking into the complaints. However, a source has also told Pro Football Talk that the Steelers had no complaints when they opened the season on Monday Night Football against the Giants. If there is any problem and this isn’t simply a case of bad luck causing normal injuries, it’s a recent one at that.

Whether the Niners are happy about the field or not, they’ll have to play at MetLife Stadium for two straight games thanks to their away trip against the Jets and the Giants in consecutive weeks. The Giants will look to avoid going 0-3 by winning this game, while the Niners hold a 1-1 record after dealing the Jets a second straight loss and keeping Adam Gase firmly on the hot seat.

New York Yankees: Good and bad news following blowout loss to Toronto

New York Yankees, Michael King

The New York Yankees picked up their second consecutive loss on Monday evening, following a defeat to the Boston Red Sox on Sunday. In the first of a four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Yankees were blown out 11-5.

Utilizing Michael King as their primary starter for this matchup, he was knocked out of the game relatively early. Before even pitching three complete innings, King had allowed five hits and five earned runs. He now has a bloated 7.76 ERA.

Luckily for the Yankees, they’ve already clinched a playoff spot, which makes the remaining games based more around their seeding for the playoffs.

Good news and bad news for the New York Yankees:

GOOD NEWS:

There wasn’t much good news in Monday evening’s defeat, aside from two batters who performed well. Lead-off man DJ LeMahieu had two hits on the night, and Gleyber Torres went 2-for-2 with two walks. LeMahieu has a 13-game hit streak in the works. He was named the AL player of the week with an impressive statistical output:

.423/.516/1.038 with nine runs scored, 11 hits, four doubles, four homers, 10 RBIs, and five walks in six games.

In what was nearly a four-hour game, the Yankees didn’t seem to have much desire for victory. After plastering 43 total runs against Toronto last week over three games, their offense didn’t show up this time around. With their full batting order in place, you would expect better from the Yankees, and they must catch a hot streak heading into exhibition games.

While a majority of the game was spent watching Yankees go back and forth from the batter’s box, they sparked in the ninth-inning, thanks to a two-out bases-loaded double from Mike Tauchman that cleared the bases.

BAD NEWS:

There was plenty of bad news to go around for the Yankees against Toronto. Their offense was lackluster, going 10 straight batters without getting on base between the 3rd and 7th inning.

As for their pitching, King was not reliable, and Jonathan Loaisiga lasted only one inning, allowing five hits and three earned runs. The starters and relief arms did not provide much confidence for management.

One interesting statistic, the Yankees haven’t had back to back losses of eight runs or more since 2003 against the Athletics. Nonetheless, the Yankees are also closing in on mathematically being eliminated from winning the American League East division. They are currently four games back on the Tampa Bay Rays, who just beat the Mets 2-1 on Monday. They have two more games against the Mets and then a three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies to finalize their regular season.

New York Mets: deGrom’s 14 Strikeouts Wasted in 2-1 Loss Against Rays

The New York Mets and Tampa Bay Rays displayed why each team sits in their respective positions in their respective divisions. Tampa Bay used their opener method and heads up baseball to win while the Mets failed to make the most of Jacob deGrom‘s stellar start. The 2-1 loss was the third straight game a Mets starter struck out at least ten batters.

deGrom showed no ill-effects from his hamstring spasms that hampered his last start. His strikeouts stuff was on display with 14 strikeouts over seven innings and allowing two runs. deGrom threw a season-high 112 pitches and, most impressively, was still throwing over 100 mph when he reached the century mark.

Bullpen Dominance

The Rays revolutionized the opener for the rest of baseball and showed its worth again. Six pitchers combined to keep the Mets to one run. Josh Fleming had the longest outing with three innings, striking out two while allowing the only Mets run.

The game-changing play came from Willy Adames in the bottom of the fifth inning and the Rays up 2-0. Jeff McNeil lined a ground ball up the middle with the bases loaded and two outs. Adames dove to stop the ball from trickling to the outfield, preventing two runs from scoring. Fleming ended up getting J.D. Davis to fly out, keeping the 2-1 lead. It was the last scoring opportunity the Mets put together.

The lone Rays runs came from Manuel Margot‘s sac fly, and Nate Lowe‘s home run off deGrom. This was the type of game the Rays were built to win. They came into the game with winning records in both one-run and two-run games.

The Mets try to get back in the win column on Tuesday with Seth Lugo on the mound. He faces former Cy Young winner Blake Snell for the 7:10 p.m. ET start from Citi Field.

NBA Icon and NASCAR Star Pair To Buy New NASCAR Team For Bubba Wallace

NBA legend and arguably the greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan and current NASCAR star, Denny Hamlin, have partnered to purchase a charter for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season and beyond. The charter belonged to Germain Racing, the current owners of the #13 GEICO machine driven by Ty Dillon. Jordan and Hamlin have immediately signed Bubba Wallace Jr. to be their driver for the foreseeable future as well.

The manufacturer and car number are yet to be announced, but one could assume the #23 is the favorite. As for sponsors, the new team will inherit Door Dash, Columbia Sports Wear, and McDonald’s, among other big-time sponsors that Bubba has added throughout the season. The team could also be sponsored by the Jordan brand or Nike itself. Michael Jordan will serve as the principal owner so that Hamlin can continue piloting the #11 machine.

This is what new owner and NBA Icon Michael Jordan said about his new team:

“Growing up in North Carolina, my parents would take my brothers, sisters & me to races, and I’ve been a NASCAR fan my whole life. The opportunity to own my own racing team in partnership w/my friend, Denny Hamlin, & to have Bubba Wallace driving for us, is very exciting.”

Jordan went on to talk about he and Hamlin’s unique bond and how it’s grown over the years. They also both hit on the potential of both Bubba as a driver and as a future star of the sport. Not only that, but they talked about the opportunity this will provide for the sport to bring in a brand new fan base.

Congratulations to Hamlin, Jordan, and Bubba on the deal. I’m incredibly excited to see this team develop and to see the audience expand as the sport itself diversifies.

New York Rangers’ Artemi Panarin shut out of NHL awards

New York Rangers, Artemi Panarin

Back in July, the NHL announced that the New York Rangers’ Artemi Panarin had been named a finalist for the Hart Memorial and Ted Lindsay trophies.

On Monday night, the NHL announced that Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers won the Ted Lindsay and Hart Memorial trophies.

The Hart Memorial Trophy, originally known as the Hart Trophy, is awarded annually to the “player judged most valuable to his team”.

The Ted Lindsay Award, formerly known as the Lester B. Pearson Award, is awarded annually to the National Hockey League’s most outstanding player in the regular season as judged by the members of the NHL Players’ Association.

Panarin was more than deserving of both of these awards, especially the Hart Trophy. It is always difficult to judge who is the most outstanding in a group of excellent players. However, there was a strong case to be made that Panarin was easily the most valuable of the nominees to his team.

After signing a seven-year contract with the Blueshirts on July 1, 2019, and helped the Rangers go 37-28-5 (.564 points percentage) in the regular season, after finishing 32-36-14 in 2018-19. He tied David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins for third in the league with 95 points (32 goals, 63 assists) in 69 games. The 28-year-old forward ranked first in the league in even-strength points (71) and first among forwards in plus/minus (plus-36). He had at least one point in 54 games, including 28 multipoint games.

In 2019-20, Panarin became the fourth Ranger in franchise history to record 95 or more points and a plus-35 rating or better in the same season.

Panarin posted a plus-40 on-ice even-strength goal differential, leading the NHL. His plus-40 on-ice even-strength goal differential was also tied for the sixth-best an NHL player has recorded since the league began to track the statistic in 2009-10.

Along with Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks, Panarin is one of two NHL players who have tallied 70 or more points in each of the last five seasons. He is one of three undrafted players in NHL history who have tallied 70 or more points in each of his first five seasons (Wayne Gretzky and Peter Stastny).

NASCAR “Silly Season” Predictions

With what NASCAR refers to as its “silly season” rapidly approaching, it’s time to make predictions on where the top drivers in the sport will be running in 2021. These are just some of my initial big predictions/thoughts, but things will change rapidly once the 48 machine’s new driver is announced.

Bubba Wallace to Hendrick Motorsports (#88)

Let’s start this one out with a bang; everyone wants to know who will replace Jimmie Johnson? Erik Jones, Kyle Larson, Tyler Reddick, and Corey Lajoie were all viewed as contenders for this ride, but one guy stood out above the rest, Bubba Wallace. In no way is Bubba more talented than any of those four drivers. He is more marketable, though, and he is currently one of the biggest stars in the sport with his social justice stances. Bubba would bring an influx of sponsorship and notoriety with him to Hendrick, and it would make sense to add him. Though, I think Alex Bowman takes the prestigious 48 because of his success and fit within Hendrick Motorsports, and Bubba takes the ride known for one of the most marketable drivers in the history of the sport.

Erik Jones to Chip Ganassi Racing (#42)

Jones has a chance to lock this ride down rather quickly. Jones has been an inconsistent driver at the top level, but when he is on, he is very competitive. As a former winner and consistent playoff fixture, he fits the bill of what the team looks for in its drivers. Jones could easily be the guy to lock down the 48, but more than likely, he goes to a spot where he can stay competitive and partner up with a legend, Kurt Busch.

Chase Briscoe to Stewart Haas Racing (#14)

Briscoe’s scenario is a tough one. I could see him sticking in Xfinity for another year, but, let’s be honest, he is ready for the cup. Briscoe has been a force to be reckoned with all season and is ready for top-level competition. His racing style is eerily similar to that of Tony Stewart, and that would be poetic for him to pilot his old number. If Briscoe doesn’t land here, watch out for Kyle Larson.

Corey Lajoie to Richard Petty Motorsports (#43)

This ride is similar to the Hendrick scenario. Marketability wins, and that’s evident with Lajoie. Lajoie is a rising star who deserves a shot with better machinery. RPM isn’t a top tier team, but Lajoie could open some eyes and get to learn from the King, so it would be a no brainer for him. As for RPM, Daniel Suarez could be the guy here if Lajoie doesn’t get it.

Clint Bowyer to Fox Sports

This one is something I see truly brewing. Bowyer got to do some more commentary work progressively over the past few seasons. He has been phenomenal. The knowledge he has, combined with the comedic timing he holds, makes him a tour de force in the booth. He and Gordon have great chemistry, and he could slot in with Mike Joy and him to form an entertaining booth for the long term future.

Kyle Larson to Go Fas Racing (#32)

This one is a little strange. Larson seems like a way too talented driver for this ride on the surface, but if you dive into it, it makes sense. With Aric Almirola needing another big year next year to keep the ten car, and potentially openings emerging next year, Larson could take his shot to get back in the sport at a lower-tier team for a year. Go Fas Racing is a partner of Stewart Haas, and maybe this is how Larson can quietly reacclimatize to the sport without controversy and be groomed for a ride at SHR.

New York Islanders: Is Patrick Laine a Real Possibility?

The New York Islanders might finally make the biggest splash of the summer. According to Roger Dicklund, a former NHL scout, the Jets and the Islanders have been making a ton of noise over a Patrick Laine deal. Now, this doesn’t mean the Islanders are 100% getting Laine, and that you should get his jersey right now. But, this does mean that there is a chance this deal could happen. The Islanders would have to give up on some big-time players if they want to obtain Laine. What would the deal look like?

3-Way Trade?

The Islanders might have to make a 3-way trade due to cap space restrictions. The problem with a 3-way trade is that the Islanders have to do all of the heavy lifting. And by heavy lifting, I mean getting rid of good young prospects.

So, in this scenario, I have a trade between the Jets, Islanders, and Lightning. The Islanders obviously receive Laine, but they have to trade Leo Komarov, Oliver Wahlstrom, and Nick Leddy to the Jets. While the Jets have to trade Laurent Brossoit and a first to the Lightning for Anthony Cirelli. This trade is a little bonkers, to say the least, but who says no?

Straight Up Trade?

The Islanders can make a straight-up trade with the Jets, but do the Jets want to take on a bad salary? Probably not, but at the same time, they can just lose Laine next year, so they don’t have a choice. So this trade is Patrick Laine for Leo Komarov, Nick Leddy, a 4th round pick, and Otto Koviula. I don’t think this is a bad trade, but it’s not a great trade. What are your thoughts on this?

New York Mets Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays (9/21-9/23)

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

The New York Mets try to hold on to their small hopes of making the postseason as they take on the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-game series. The Rays are the best team in the American League, and the Mets need a sweep to keep their chances alive.

Probable Pitching Matchups:

Monday, (9/21) @ 7:10 p.m. ET: Pete Fairbanks (5-3, 2.74 ERA) vs. Jacob deGrom (4-1, 2.08 ERA)

Tuesday, (9/22) @ 7:10 p.m. ET: Blake Snell (4-1, 3.05 ERA) vs. Seth Lugo (2-3, 4.34 ERA)

Wednesday, (9/23) @ 7:10 p.m. ET: Tyler Glasnow (4-1, 4.21 ERA) vs. TBA

Jacob deGrom makes his first start after hamstring spasms forced him out after two innings. The poor start dropped him back in the Cy Young race, but two more great starts from deGrom could do plenty to get him his third straight Cy Young. Also, the Mets need a great start out of him as he tries to contend with the tough Rays offense.

Injuries were not the cause of reason for Seth Lugo’s last start. Balls flew all around Citizens Bank Park, and it was evident his swing and miss stuff was non-existent. Despite the Mets winning the game, it put the rotation for game one against the Braves in shambles.

Rays Pitching Depth

The Rays pitching is one of the biggest reasons they are a World Series contender this season. They have a 3.66 ERA and rank second in the AL in strikeouts. Twelve different pitchers have started games for them, and the same amount have recorded saves. Manager Kevin Cash has weapons to use at any time and is not afraid to use them in big moments.

Young upstart Brandon Lowe is emerging into a start this season. He leads the Rays in all three triple crown stats, hitting .272 with 13 home runs and 33 runs batted in. Lowe also leads the Rays in hits, walks, runs, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.

Key Stats

Blake Snell vs. Todd Frazier: 1-for-8 (.182), Walk, Strikeout

Michael Conforto during Wins in 2020: .419/.537/.756, 8 Doubles, 7 Home Runs, 15 Walks, 17 Strikeouts

Brandon Nimmo w/2-Out during 2020: .341/.400/.610, 3 Doubles, Triple, 2 Home Runs, 3 Walks, 5 Strikeouts

Jacob deGrom Career vs. Rays: 2 Starts, 1.88 ERA, 14.1 IP, 15 Strikeouts

 

Yankees: GM Brian Cashman has strong words for Luke Voit

New York Yankees, Brian Cashman

The New York Yankees fell to the Boston Red Sox on Sunday evening 10-2, but it came on the back of a ten-game win streak after falling to .500 on the season.

The Yankees have had their fair share of ups and downs, specifically in the injury department with Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres, James Paxton, and more spending time on the injured list. The 2020 campaign seems eerily similar to 2019 when the Yankees broke records for the number of injuries that he sustained.

However, manager Aaron Boone was able to rally the troops and still managed to secure 103 wins.

If not for several consistent performers this year, the Yankees might not be in such a luxurious situation. They clinched a postseason spot despite losing to the Red Sox on Sunday night.

If there’s any one player the Yankees should be thanking, it is slugger Luke Voit. General manager Brian Cashman stated on MLB Network that Voit belongs in the AL MVP conversation.

Through 49 games this year, Voit has battled foot issues and still managed to propel the Yankees. He currently leads the MLB with 21 home runs and has 49 RBIs to go with it. His .286 batting average is quite impressive given the sample size he has enjoyed, while other Yankee players have been limited due to injury. Playing through body issues and fighting to keep his team in the hunt is what separates good from great.

Voit has been an absolute godsend for the Yankees and undoubtedly deserves to be in the conversation for the MVP this year. Hopefully, he can continue playing at an elevated level and help the Yankees to a potential World Series appearance.

 

A realistic matchup for Donald Cerrone after UFC Vegas 11

Donald Cerrone

Saturday night at UFC Vegas 11, Donald Cerrone (36-15-1, 1 NC) fought to the first draw of his career against Niko Price (14-4-1, 1 NC). However, Cowboy was looking at it as the fifth straight loss for him inside the octagon.

If it had not been for a point deduction in the first round, Cerrone would have lost a split decision. The fight was close, but it should have been a fifth straight UFC loss for Donald Cerrone. Many thought it was do or die for Cowboy leading up to UFC Vegas 11.

Cowboy, who is notorious for staring slow, almost appeared to be out before the fight even started. Price blitzed him to start and nearly got a finish, but Cerrone hung in there. He battled back and even won the third round on all scorecards.

Cerrone was clearly dejected after the fight was over. Dana White suggested that the UFC needed to have a talk with Cerrone which could signal the end. However, Cerrone isn’t ready to give up. He’s looking for one more chance to prove himself.

Intriguing matchup for the UFC to consider

I kept trying to wrap my brain around who I would pair Cerrone with in his next fight. Who could the UFC give him that would make for a compelling fight, but it would be a winnable fight for Cerrone?

It’s crazy to think, but we are just a little over a year removed from Cerrone being a win away from a UFC title shot. Cerrone’s fight with Tony Ferguson at UFC 238 was considered a title eliminator. If Cerrone had won that night, he would have fought for the title.

Instead, that night started this steep downhill tumble for Cowboy. I think I’ve come up with the perfect opponent for Cowboy and it’s an opponent who’s going to be fighting this weekend at UFC 253. That opponent is Diego Sanchez (30-12).

Sanchez will be taking on Jake Mathews this weekend, but regardless of the result, a fight with Cowboy makes sense. Both guys are obviously past their primes, and there’s a little history there. Sanchez really wanted to fight Cowboy back in 2018.

The options for the UFC and Cerrone are relatively limited. I don’t think the promotion should book him with a top contender or an up and comer. Give him someone with a name, but someone that he can fight competitively with. The original ultimate fighter makes a lot of sense to me.