New York Yankees: Good news and bad news following devastating loss to Tampa

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

The New York Yankees lost for the second consecutive time in the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday.

In what started off as a close contest tied 1-1 in the third inning quickly became a blowout. With Aaron Judge hitting a sacrifice fly to right field, driving in Brett Gardner, shortly after, the Rays responded with a three-run home rub off the bat of Kevin Kiermaier.

The pitching for the Yankees was once again a trip tonight, failing to contain the Ray’s and Randy Arozarena. This loss puts the Yankees in a problematic position, as they must win game four and hope that Gerrit Cole is able to pitch in game five.

FINAL SCORE: 8-4

Good news and bad news for the New York Yankees:

GOOD NEWS:

There wasn’t much good news in the loss to Tampa, aside from one impressive statistic. Slugger Giancarlo Stanton hit a home run for the fifth consecutive game.

Stanton now owns the record for the most consecutive games with a homer in postseason history. The last player to reach five was Juan Gonzalez in 1996 and Ken Griffey Jr. in 1995.

Offensively, the Yankees were unable to get anything going striking out nine times and recording seven hits. Stanton has been on a tear, but the remainder of the lineup was tumultuous.

BAD NEWS:

The Yankees pitching was disastrous in game three, with starter Masahiro Tanaka allowing five and runs over four innings. He currently has an 11.25 ERA this postseason.

Normally, Tanaka is a fantastic option during exhibition games, but the Yankees are going to have to rethink their strategy going to 2021, as their starting pitching has not gotten the job done.

Moving onto their bullpen, Chad Green allowed two earned runs over one inning. His tough season continues and his 9.00 ERA only attests to that. The remainder of the bullpen gave up one run and two hits over four innings, but the Yankees were unable to get anything going offensively to spark a comeback.

One of the biggest negatives from the contest was the lack of consistency from the umpire. Just before Kiermaier hit a three-run home run in the fourth inning, the home plate umpire missed two obvious balls that would have walked in a run and put Giancarlo Stanton at the plate. That was a changing point in the game and essentially could have determined the outcome.

Tanaka stated following the game:

“It comes down to not executing when I really needed to.” 

With Jordan Montgomery taking the mound in game four, the Yankees’ offense will need to be well and alive.

New York Giants: James Bradberry playing at an All-Pro level, according to Pro Football Focus

New York Giants, James Bradberry

The New York Giants are sitting at a disappointing 0-4 through the first quarter of the 2020 NFL season. The team’s offense has not scored a touchdown in the last two games. But on the other side of the ball, New York is enjoying some pretty impressive performances.

The Giants’ defense has been a pleasant surprise this season. Outside of the Giants’ disappointing Week Three loss to the San Fransisco 49ers, New York’s defense has kept them close in games. One player, in particular, has been dominating on the Giants’ defense: James Bradberry. According to Pro Football Focus, James Bradberry is currently playing at an All-Pro level through the first quarter of the 2020 NFL season.

James Bradberry Stats and Highlights

The New York Giants signed James Bradberry to a three-year $43.5 million contract this offseason. So far, he has been worth every penny of that lucrative contract.

James Bradberry earns First-Quarter All-Pro honors from Pro Football Focus for having an 83.0 overall grade through the first four weeks of the season. Bradberry has been a playmaker on the Giants’ defense, totaling a league-high 9 passes defended so far, along with 1 interception.

Opposing quarterbacks have had a tough time throwing against James Bradberry. The Giants’ cornerback has been targeted in coverage 24 times in four games, allowing only 13 completions (54.2%). These completions have amounted to 157 yards and 2 touchdowns. Both of those touchdowns, according to PFF, came in Week One. He has not allowed any touchdowns in the past three weeks.

He hasn’t had easy assignments for the first few weeks of this season but has seven pass breakups while allowing just 52.2% of passes thrown into his coverage to be caught. Bradberry’s numbers would be even better were it not for a couple of touchdowns he gave up against the Steelers in the first game of his season. – Pro Football Focus on James Bradberry

As the Giants’ season rolls on, James Bradberry will need to maintain this high level of play. The Giants’ cornerbacks opposite of Bradberry have struggled mightily. James Bradberry has held the defense together and will need to continue to do so if the Giants are planning on winning any games this season.

Corey Anderson to make Bellator debut against Melvin Manhoef

Corey Anderson

Bellator has announced it’s headliner for their fight night on November 5th. President Scott Coker told CBS Sports Network today that newly signed Corey Anderson (13-5) will be taking on Melvin Manhoef (32-14-1, 2 NC) in his promotional debut.

This will be the first Bellator fight for Manhoef in 2020. The 44 year old returned to the Bellator cage in 2019 where he went 2-0 against Kent Kauppinen and Yannick Bahati. Manhoef is known for his dangerous striking which was on display against Bahati.

Having fought all around the world, Manhoef is not going to be afraid of this moment. He’s got the striking and the power to put anyone out who stands in front of him. This is a very tough stylistic matchup for him, but don’t expect him to shy away.

Throughout his career, Manhoef has fought for all the big promotions outside the UFC. He’s fought in Bellator, ONE, Strikeforce, Dream, and K1 throughout his long career. He’s been in there against some big names from Robbie Lawler to Gegard Mousasi.

Bellator Debut for Anderson

Bellator made waves a while back when they announced that they had signed Corey Anderson. Anderson was the fourth ranked light heavyweight in the UFC, but he decided to ask for his release. Upon getting his release Bellator scooped him up right away.

Coming into 2020, Anderson looked to be primed for a title shot in the UFC. However, he was knocked out in the first round by the current UFC champion, Jan Blachowicz back in February. That completely derailed his plans.

Following a health scare, Anderson decided to ask the UFC for more money. When the UFC wasn’t willing to give him more, he asked for his release. Shortly after, he landed a lucrative contract with Bellator and he’s expected to be a force in their light heavyweight division.

While Anderson will have to be aware of Manhoef’s striking, this is a very winnable fight for Anderson. If he utilizes his wrestling skills to the best of his ability, he should be able to get a win while getting his feet wet in the Bellator cage.

UFC: Michael Chiesa says fighting Khamzat Chimaev is not smart business

One of the top welterweights in the UFC is currently making his way back from injury. Michael Chiesa (17-4) hasn’t fought since January when he defeated Rafael Dos Anjos by unanimous decision. The third straight UFC victory for Chiesa.

Chiesa is currently ranked eighth in the UFC‘s welterweight division. He’s currently working his way back from injury with aspirations to fight in either December or January. Today at the UFC Fight Island 5 media scrum, Chiesa fielded questions from reporters.

Of course, one of the questions that came through was around the UFC‘s newest sensation, Khamzat Chimaev (9-0). Chimaev is currently scheduled to headline a fight night in either November or December, but the UFC still doesn’t have an opponent for him yet.

Chiesa was asked about the standstills that are going on in his division. He said that he couldn’t blame guys for not wanting to fight Chimaev. When asked if he would potentially take the fight if the UFC offered, Chiesa implied that the fight didn’t make a ton of sense.

The UFC’s Tough Situation

“You have to think about it like this. If he beats a guy, hypothetically, let’s say he beats Wonderboy. Now it’s lucrative. Hell yeah, now he’s proven he’s the real thing. However, if I lay it on the line and he beats me, he takes my spot. I beat him and they’d say he’s a flash in the pan,” Chiesa told reporters.

I have to say that the UFC veteran does have a point. Despite all the hype, Chimaev still doesn’t have a number next to his names. He’s still on the outside looking in when it comes to the UFC‘s rankings. That’s why no ranked fighter wants the fight.

As Chiesa said, if Chimaev defeats any top ten guy, he takes their spot. However, if the top contender wins, nothing changes for them besides getting a paycheck. That is where the UFC‘s problem is when it comes to Chimaev.

They want to rush Chimaev up the mountain, but top ranked fighters realize the danger in fighting him. They also realize they have way more to lose, they gain nothing from it. I think the UFC is going to have their hands full getting Chimaev a fight.

NASCAR: Alex Bowman ready to follow in Jimmie Johnson’s footsteps

A familiar face will take over the iconic No. 48 Chevrolet when Jimmie Johnson moves on after the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season.

Taylor Swift would probably be proud of the recent decision from NASCAR’s Hendrick Motorsports, as what they were looking for was there the whole time.

This week, HMS announced that the No. 48 Chevrolet set to be vacated by Jimmie Johnson will be occupied by his teammate Alex Bowman in 2021. Johnson, a record seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, is set to retire at the end of the 2020 season. He has driven team owner Rick Hendrick’s No. 48 on a full-time basis since 2002.

Ally Financial will be retained as the No. 48’s primary sponsor while Bowman’s crew chief, Greg Ives, will follow him over.

“I’m excited. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Bowman said in a teleconference after the announcement. “My initial reaction was just being excited and honored to drive the No. 48 car. Jimmie’s meant a lot to me throughout my career. Everything he’s done for me, whether it’s being a friend off of the racetrack and just being someone to get advice from or being a great teammate, it’s been awesome to get to work with him and get to know him.”

“To get to drive that car is an honor and I just want to go get it in victory lane and have a lot of fun doing it.”

Bowman, 27, currently drives the No. 88 Chevorlet for HMS. The shift to one of NASCAR’s most iconic rides is part of an incredible racing journey that began on the local short tracks of California and his native Arizona. His success was enough to warrant consideration at NASCAR’s lower levels, including a full-time Cup Series chance with the underfunded BK Racing and Tommy Baldwin Racing.

His first opportunity with HMS came in the latter stages of 2016. He and another Cup Series/Hendrick legend, four-time champion Jeff Gordon shared pilot duties of the No. 88 after Dale Earnhardt Jr. dealt with concussion issues. Bowman would take over the car full-time in 2018 after a retiring Earnhardt endorsed his takeover.

“I think the biggest thing when it comes down to ‘doing it right’ is to get the 48 back in victory lane, to go win races and contend for a championship” Bowman said. “I feel like we’re very capable of doing that. We’ve done that throughout the year this year, and hopefully we’ll continue to. In the 48 car we’re going to be up front, for sure.”

Johnson took to Twitter to express his approval.

Since then, Bowman has reached the Cup Series playoffs in each of his three seasons behind the wheel. He took home his first career Cup Series win in 2019 at Chicagoland and earned another this season at Fontana back in March, when he led 110 of 200 laps to win the Auto Club 400. Ironically, Johnson’s first win also came at the two-mile track during his rookie season. Bowman currently sits in seven place in the playoff standings, 22 points ahead of the cutoff to the Round of 8. The Round of 12 drivers ends on Sunday afternoon at the Bank of America Roval 400 in Charlotte (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC).

The move more or less amounts to Bowman’s No. 88 team rebranding as the 48. HMS still plans to run four cars next season, but it’s not clear who will drive the vacated 88 next season. Speculation has persisted that the car will revert to one of Hendrick’s former brandings like the Nos. 5 or 25. Terry Labonte drove the No. 5 to the Cup Series championship in 1996 and the number was last used by Kasey Kahne in 2017. Hendrick’s No. 25 has not raced on a full-time basis since 2007 with Casey Mears behind the wheel. It has since made brief appearances as a part-time car, hosting the Cup Series debuts of current stars Brad Keselowski and Chase Elliott (who remains in the HMS stable in the No. 9 Chevrolet).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

Lias Andersson’s time as a New York Ranger has come to an end

New York Rangers, Lias Andersson

During the second round of the NHL Entry Draft, the New York Rangers traded troubled forward Lias Andersson to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for the No. 60 pick. General manager Jeff Gorton then announced that the Rangers would be drafting William Cuylle. This ends what has been a very difficult period of time between the young Swede and the Blueshirts.

The former seventh overall pick played in just 66 games for the Rangers, falling short of  expectations with just three goals and six assists. He struggled to secure a spot in the lineup and fluctuated between the NHL and the AHL for most of his time in New York.

Earlier, Andersson had confided in SVT Sports, a Swedish media outlet, that it was an “untenable situation” for him in New York.

Demanding a trade after being demoted to Hartford, Andersson left the organization and returned home to Sweden, where the Rangers loaned him to HV71 of the SHL.

Unless sign that Andersson did not intend to return to the organization occured when the Rangers extended an invitation to Andersson to re-join the team for summer training camp ahead of the 2020 NHL Playoffs. Declining the offer demonstrated his willingness to no longer be a part of the organization.

 

New York Yankees: Poor pitching decisions allowed Rays back into series

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

The New York Yankees dropped Game Two of the ALDS yesterday to the Tampa Bay Rays in a 7-5 loss. After announcing that 21-year-old young star Deivi Garcia would be starting the game, the Yankees pulled him after just one inning. Granted, Garcia is young and he allowed a home run in that one inning of work, but it was completely unnecessary to pull him after just one inning.

The Yankees utilized the “opener” strategy yesterday, which is used for teams that don’t have many quality starting pitchers. That’s where the Yankees went wrong. Although he is young, Garcia is one of the top prospects in baseball and any of the 29 other teams would trade their top prospect for him. So even though he’s not an established pitcher in the big leagues yet, letting him go only one inning was not a good move.

The opener move by the Yankees almost looked like a “panic” move, as YES Network broadcaster Michael Kay described it. The Yankees have now put themselves in a position where for Game Four (which there definitely will be) Jordan Montgomery is lined up for that start. The Yankees took a gable with the opener move and it blew up in the faces. That was one of the main reasons why they dropped Game Two.

The only good that came from Game Two was that the bullpen was able to rest. Except for Ottovino, all high-leverage guys were not used. Chapman, Green, and Britton did not pitch so they are all on a day’s rest.

Tonight’s game is huge for the Yankees and Tanaka needs to pitch well. The first pitch is at 7:10 PM at Petco Park.

UFC books Jeremy Stephens – Arnold Allen

Jeremy Stephens

The UFC is finalizing a tremendous featherweight contest for their card on November 7th. First reported by MMA Junkie, the promotion is planning on booking Jeremy Stephens (28-18, 1 NC) against Arnold Allen (16-1).

For Jeremy Stephens, this is a make or break type of fight for the long time contender. Stephens will be entering the octagon on November 7th after going 0-4, 1 NC in his last five contests. Stephens was finished in two of those contests.

While they have all come against top competition, it’s still not a great look to the UFC when you’re riding a losing streak like this. This is the first time since 2018, that Stephens is not going to be facing a top contender in his next fight.

However, Lil Heathen is going to have his hands full. Arnold Allen is quite the exciting prospect in the UFC‘s featherweight division. Allen will walk into the cage on November 7th as the eighth ranked featherweight in the UFC. One spot ahead of the veteran, Stephens.

Big UFC test for Allen

For Allen, this is going to be the biggest test of his UFC career. The 26 year old fighter from England made his UFC debut back in 2015. Since then, Allen has gone 7-0 with the promotion with most of his fights going the distance.

Allen has been in there with some recognizable names. Most notably, Allen has had wins over former Strikeforce champion, Gilbert Melendez, and Nik Lentz. We haven’t seen Allen since January when he was able to defeat Lentz by unanimous decision.

The November 7th card is being headlined by the light heavyweight title eliminator between Thiago Santos and Glover Teixiera. This fight is another great addition to the growing card which is turning out to be a must watch for UFC fans.

New York Giants’ Daniel Jones offers insight into his poor play

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The pressure is on for New York Giants‘ quarterback Daniel Jones through four weeks of the regular season. Having only thrown two touchdowns this year, the turnovers are beginning to bubble and pose a significant problem. Over the past four weeks, Jones has made three significant mistakes that have played a part in the team’s 0-4 record.

Against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jones waited too long to get rid of the ball and was hit by Bud Dupree, throwing an unfortunate interception which ended the game prematurely. In week 2, he marched downfield and threw a poor pass to Golden Tate before the enzone with the game on the line. Against the Rams in week 4, Jones tossed a pass on the move to Damien Ratley that was intercepted when he had daylight ahead of him to take off running.

These mistakes cannot continue to linger, as Jones has the tangible talent to become an effective quarterback in the NFL. Of course, blame can be put on the pieces around him, as the offensive line ranks near dead last in pass protection and Jones is currently the team’s leading rusher.

However, he does understand the improvement is necessary and nothing is given in the NFL.

Daniel Jones quotes, via Dan Salomone:

“I realize that this is my second year and I do have a lot to learn … but I don’t think you ever use that as an excuse. I’m expected to play well.”

“I’m expected to play well, to understand what we’re trying to do, and execute it.”

“I think the offense has the capability of being explosive.”

The New York Giants need to see more from Daniel Jones:

Jones is right, this is his second year and he has plenty to learn, but his progression must start to shine through soon. With GM Dave Gettleman undoubtedly on the hot seat, Jones could also be a casualty of war if Gettleman is replaced. Similar to what we saw with the Arizona Cardinals and Kyler Murray, new management can shake things up and go in different directions.

The Dallas Cowboys in week 5 offer a weaker defense, as they currently have the worst unit in franchise history through the first four games of a regular season. They’re allowing an averaged 36.5 points per game, providing Jones with a stellar opportunity to erase the bad juju from the fan-base.

New York Knicks: Isaac Okoro’s winning style of play is needed

There’ve been plenty of draft, trade, and free agency rumors circulating the New York Knicks’ franchise these past couple of days. A ton of things could happen on draft night as well as in free agency. The one thing that’s certain is Isaac Okoro’s winning style of play is needed on a young developing New York Knicks roster.

Isaac Okoro emulates his playing style after players like Jaylen Brown, Andre Iguodala, and Kawhi Leonard. Okoro, praises Kawhi Leonard’s approach to the game during a virtual interview with an NBA analyst.

 

Isaac Okoro was interviewed by NBA Draft analyst Mike Schmitz of ESPN. Mike Schmitz is also a contributor to a private scouting and analytics service by the name of DraftExpress. The two completed a virtual ESPN film session comparing Isaac Okoro’s style to other current and former NBA players.

What would Okoro bring to the New York Knicks? 

The intangibles that Okoro brings to the game on a nightly basis was evident during the entire virtual film session. Okoro’s motor, defense, defensive IQ, finishing ability, and Okoro’s underrated playmaking ability showed that there could be a case made for him to potentially end up being the steal of the 2020 NBA Draft. The prospect out of Auburn has tremendous upside and he’s shown time and time again on the basketball court that he’s a bonafide winner during his freshman year at Auburn.

Tom Thibodeau along with the rest of the current Knicks coaching and developmental staff would be an ideal opportunity for Isaac Okoro. The Knicks staff consist of experienced teachers from the Kenny Paynes’ to the Mike Woodsons’ and Johnny Bryants’. Combine the knowledge of the Knicks’ developmental staff along with Isaac Okoro’s desire to play defense and learn the game, and the potential to become a two-way star for years to come is suddenly a strong possibility.

Overall, The New York Knicks are in a position to select a strong defensive-minded young player filled with potential. The question is whether or not a team selecting before the Knicks will reach for the young talented prospect out of Auburn University.