New York Jets: Mark Sanchez appears on “The Masked Singer”

The former New York Jets quarterback was the fourth celebrity revealed in the hit Fox program’s fourth season.

Move over, Baby Yoda, because another infantile green extraterrestrial is taking over the pop culture scene.

Former New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez was the latest celebrity exposed on the Fox musical competition series The Masked Singer, the fourth star unveiled in the show’s fourth season. Sanchez made his appearance through one of the show’s most elaborate costumes yet, a wearable puppet depicting a small alien in a rocket ship, labeled “Baby Alien”.

In a performance that would make Jim Henson proud, Sanchez operated the puppet from the inside while fulfilling his singing duties in front of judges Ken Jeong, Jenny McCarthy, Nicole Scherzinger, Robin Thicke, and special guest Joel McHale.

Speaking with Michael Schneider of Variety, it sounded like the burden of the Baby Alien might’ve been able to rival his workouts with the Jets.

“I think that needed somebody that was big enough and strong enough to handle the weight of the costume,” Sanchez said. “Because after wearing it for a while, it wears on you a little bit. It’s like 40 pounds. And it positions itself on your upper chest area and lower back and shoulders, so they needed somebody with some broad shoulders to handle it. I was their guy and it worked out well.”

With the 16 contestants split into groups, Sanchez previously survived his group’s showing two weeks ago with a performance of “Faith” by George Michael. However, his rendition of Imagine Dragons’ “It’s Time” wasn’t enough to keep him going for another week. Despite his elimination, his identity remained a secret until he shed the costume. McHale came closest by guessing a quarterback, ironically suggesting Sanchez’s former AFC East rival Tom Brady before moving onto Eric Bana, his co-star in the 2014 horror film Deliver Us From Evil. Sanchez even put on a faux European accent to further throw the judges off his trail.

Sanchez’s “clue package”, an animated segment featuring the character that offers hints to the judge and audience about the contestant’s identity, featured numerous references to his football career. Part of the segment parodies the Baywatch franchise, a shoutout to the infamous GQ cover story prior to his NFL debut that featured Sanchez posing in a manner similar to the lifeguard protagonists. An oversized hot dog also appears in the animations, referencing Sanchez’s in-game snack during a 2009 win over the Oakland Raiders.

In a bit of corporate synergy, Sanchez currently serves as a studio analyst for Fox Sports’ college football coverage.

Previous reveals on this fourth season of the series include Busta Rhymes, Mickey Rourke, and Brian Austin Green. The Masked Singer airs new episodes on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Yankees: Luke Voit Injury Update

New York Yankees, Luke Voit

In Brian Cashman’s year-end press conference, he gave an injury update on New York Yankees first-baseman Luke Voit. He said that Voit had a PRP shot for the plantar fasciitis he’s been dealing with all season.

Although he was hobbling all season, Voit refused to be put on the IL. The team saw extensive injuries once again this season, and they couldn’t afford to put him on the IL.

Voit had an all-star caliber season, although it might never get recognized due to the short season and the absence of an all-star game. In 213 at-bats, Voit bat .277, hit 22 home runs and drove in 52 runs. His OPS was just shy of .950 while he sustained a 1.5 WAR on the season.

He was one of the few players to stay off the IL for the entirety of the season and was one of the best players on the team. They got Voit in 2018 in a trade that saw Giovanny Gallegos go to St. Louis with cash considerations for him. He immediately made an impact, batting .333 and hitting 14 home runs. 2019 saw Voit hit .263 with 21 home runs, a season where he battled injuries and landed on the IL.

Voit’s proven to the Yankees that he’s the franchise first-baseman. They’ve experimented with several first-basemen since the Mark Teixeria era, such as Greg Bird, Chris Carter, and Matt Holliday. But, Voit’s performance over the last few years have shown that he deserves the role.

One of the only good things about the Yankees being eliminated from the postseason is that it allows the team to get healthy. Voit was battling an injury all year, and his perseverance went unnoticed. Now, he can 100% recover to have an even bigger 2021 season.

Conor McGregor reverses course on 2021 UFC fight with Dustin Poirier

Conor McGregor, UFC

The current situation between Conor McGregor (22-4) and the UFC seems to be changing every second nowadays. Last week it appeared that the promotion was going to book the rematch between McGregor and Dustin Poirier (26-6, 1 NC).

Both fighters had agreed to the fight. However, McGregor wanted the fight to be in 2020. McGregor said in a tweet that he would only accept the UFC‘s offer if the fight was to take place in 2020. 2021 was not acceptable for the Notorious one.

Today, UFC President Dana White came out and said that the offer was firm for January 23rd, 2021. It was a take it or leave it offer, and if McGregor wouldn’t accept it, the promotion would move on from trying to book the McGregor – Poirier rematch.

White taking this position seemingly indicated that the fight wouldn’t be made. It seemed to be a struggle over power between McGregor and the UFC. After initially saying he would only accept the fight in 2020, McGregor has reversed his position.

UFC in Dallas?

As you can see, McGregor has publicly said that he was in for the UFC‘s offer of January 23rd. However, he doesn’t want to fight in the APEX, instead he wants the fight to take place in Dallas, Texas at AT&T Stadium.

If the UFC decides to try to make this happen, it could be the first UFC event that would have live fans in attendance. However, the idea still seems a bit far fetched. There is likely no way an event would be approved to have full attendance.

White has said on a number of occasions that the promotion wouldn’t hold an event with partial crowds. They would wait until they could pack the arenas again with UFC fans. If the promotion holds an event in the Jerry Dome, it would likely be a limited crowd.

One thing is for sure, we are in a better position than we were in a few hours ago. Fans who are wanting to see the rematch between McGregor and Dustin Poirier might get their wish after all.

Fred VanVleet to New York Knicks rumors are heating up

New York Knicks, Fred Van Fleet

There’s no question that the New York Knicks need an improved team composed of established veterans and rising youth, but drawing interest from quality players has been a struggle the past few years. While they did manage to land Marcus Morris and Julius Randle in free agency last year, they both failed to elevate the state of the franchise, as Morris was traded away, and Randle became more of a problem than a solution.

Incomes Leon Rose, the new general manager and head negotiator for the Knicks. His connections around the league with big-name players should prove to be helpful, but we’ve heard this story before with Phil Jackson. The hope is that Tom Thibodeau is the right coach for the job, and whatever players they do draw to the “The Mecca” fit into his system like a glove.

One free agent, the Knicks, are reportedly looking at this offseason is Fred VanVleet, who has been a menace for the Raptors.

According to Stefan Bondy of the NY Daily News:

The Raptors are the betting favorites to re-sign VanVleet, but his free agency is unrestricted and the Knicks, according to sources, are among the other teams with interest. If they don’t pull the trigger on a Chris Paul trade, it certainly makes sense for the cap-loaded Knicks.

The Knicks have also been in talks with Oklahoma regarding a potential trade for Chris Paul, but his bloated contract and age don’t make him very appealing. The Knicks aren’t in a position to win now, so trading for a player making over $40 million per season isn’t a developmental move.
VanVleet is a better option, as the Knicks have the cash to splash, and he’s only 26 years old. Ultimately, the Raptor is a solid player to build around. He won’t be cheap, though.
ESPN’s Bobby Marks stated that VanVleet could be valued between $25-30 million per season:

“One team told me last week that they think he’s going to get between $25 million and $30 million per season,” said Marks on The Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective Podcast.

Last year with Toronto, VanVleet averaged 17.6 points and hauled in 3.4 defensive rebounds per game. This was his best statistical season, and while his numbers don’t necessarily scream offensive efficiency, he’s a well-rounded player who does plenty of things at an above-average level. His action on the offensive side of the ball has only increased, and his efficiency from the floor has remained consistent, which only attests to his quality.

Fred is also a solid defender and passer, which should excite the Knicks. Far too often, the Knicks have signed one-way players that simply can’t hold up their value on both ends of the court. A player like VanVleet will do that, which is why the rumors are continuing to bubble.

New York Giants: Joe Judge says Daniel Jones “Absolutely” the guy despite 2020 struggles

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants have started the 2020 NFL season with an atrocious 0-5 record. Some fans and analysts believe the Giants are destined to finish the season with the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. In that scenario, the likely draft selection would be Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. That is unless the Giants think Daniel Jones is better.

Right now, the quarterback of the New York Giants is second-year gunslinger Daniel Jones. Jones was a controversial draft pick out of Duke in the 2019 NFL Draft. “Danny Dimes” flashed potential greatness in his rookie season and has shown similar skills in 2020, but so far this season he has struggled to outweigh the bad with the good.

Daniel Jones has not scored a touchdown since Week One. Additionally, he has turned the ball over in every game this season. Daniel has thrown 2 touchdowns compared to 5 interceptions and 3 lost fumbles. His touchdown to turnover ratios is a horrific 1:4.

Despite this poor start to Daniel Jones’s second season, head coach Joe Judge is still confident in his quarterback. Judge has “absolutely!” told Daniel Jones that he is the guy.

Joe Judge on Daniel Jones

Daniel Jones, according to Joe Judge, is mentally tough and has been responding to the coaching staff well:

“My personality & the personality of this coaching staff is we’re very blunt, open, and honest. I’m not really sitting here trying to sell you a car, we’re not recruiting you to college. I’m going to tell you the truth every day. You have to be mentally tough to handle that, you have to understand the criticism that we’re giving to you, you have to be able to take the coaching & move forward with it. I’ll tell you what, man, No. 8 does that very well for us.” – Joe Judge on Daniel Jones via Tom Rock of Newsday

Judge was quoted today, saying the Giants have “a lot of confidence” in Daniel Jones. This is quite different from the consensus feeling of Giants fans and football analysts. Many are starting to lose confidence and question Daniel Jones’s makeup as a franchise quarterback.

But one thing Judge can see that the fans cannot see is Jones’s work ethic behind the scenes. Judge pointed out today that whatever Daniel’s emotion is after a game, Judge sees him “funnel it into a solid week of work.”

Joe Judge told the media that he has “seen a lot of progress from Daniel.” But, so far, this hard work and progress in practice has not shown up in the win-loss column. If Daniel Jones truly is “the guy,” he has eleven more weeks to prove it to Giants fans.

Aljamain Sterling finally gets his title shot at UFC 256

After months of campaigning, Aljamain Sterling (19-3) is finally getting the shot that he deserved. UFC president Dana White announced today that in December, Petr Yan (15-1) will be defending his bantamweight crown against Sterling at UFC 256.

Sterling has been asking for his chance at UFC gold for months. However, the promotion hasn’t guaranteed him the spot until now. It’s hard to imagine anyone who is more deserving in the bantamweight division than Aljamain Sterling.

Sterling last competed back at UFC 250 against Cory Sandhagen. The fight was labeled as a title eliminator and Sterling ran through Sandhagen in just 88 seconds. You couldn’t have been more convincing in a title eliminator.

Yet, the UFC wouldn’t come out and say that Sterling was for sure next. The UFC normally is very blunt about who’s next, just look at the way Dana White talks about Francis Ngannou. However, Sterling was never given that treatment.

There was a bunch of quotes saying things like Sterling might get the next shot. Or that Sterling was probably next for the UFC bantamweight champion. However, everything was put to bed today when the promotion announced the Yan – Sterling title fight.

UFC 256 Co-Main Event

It appears that this title fight is going to slide into the co-main event slot. While Amanda Nunes and Megan Anderson are going to get the headlining treatment at UFC 256. Nevertheless, fans should be pumped up for this bantamweight matchup.

Sterling will be coming into the octagon in December on a five fight winning streak. In those five fights Sterling has beaten the likes of Cody Stamann, Jimmie Rivera, Pedro Munhoz, and Cory Sandhagen. He’s looked absolutely sensational.

Yan on the other hand is coming off of his destruction of Jose Aldo back at UFC 251. Yan became the bantamweight champion that night after he stopped Aldo in the fifth round of their title fight. Prior to that, Yan knocked out Urijah Faber.

He has never lost in the UFC and he will bring his 7-0 record into the cage in December. Both of these men present such interesting styles. Yan’s striking is elite while Sterling has unique striking but sensational ground skills. It should translate to a fantastic fight.

UFC: Khamzat Chimaev could be fighting Neil Magny next

UFC President Dana White came out today and said the Khamzat Chimaev (9-0) is the toughest guy to book in the promotion right now. The Russian superstar is not ranked in any division and multiple top contenders have turned down fights against him.

Michael Chiesa laid out good reasoning on why no top UFC fighter would want that fight. The risk far outweighs the reward for many top contender. Because of this, the UFC has struggled to find Chimaev an opponent for his next fight.

The UFC is wanting Chimaev to headline in his next fight against a highly ranked opponent. They appear to be fast-tracking their undefeated star. However, getting a top contender to agree to the matchup is a much bigger problem than Dana White expected.

However, there is one top fifteen fighter who is asking for the fight. That guy would be Neil Magny (24-7). Magny has been very public about his interest in fighting the undefeated prospect. While nobody seems to want that fight, Magny is all about it.

In his interview with ESPN today, White said that Magny was virtually the only guy willing to take the fight. He also said that the UFC would be announcing something soon in terms of who Khamzat Chimaev would be fighting next.

UFC Cinderella Run for Magny?

What a 2020 it has been for Neil Magny. After getting suspended due to USADA, Magny has stormed back into the UFC this year with three straight wins. All three wins have come since March, and his last win was his most impressive.

Back in August, Magny took on former UFC welterweight champion, Robbie Lawler, Magny controlled the fight from the beginning to the end. It was the biggest win of Magny’s UFC career. However, Chimaev would present the greatest challenge.

The top prospect has already shown how good he is on the ground. Then, in his last fight, he starched Gerald Meerschaert in 14 seconds on the feet. He appears to be the total package and the majority of the UFC seems to be a little on edge about facing the Russian.

Magny is ready to take on the challenge. Given Magny’s willingness to take the fight and Dana White’s comments, I think Magny is the clubhouse favorite to headline opposite Khamzat Chimaev. I don’t know what odds I’d give him, but Magny is gaining a ton of respect from the UFC. 

UFC ultimatum signals bad news for McGregor – Poirier 2

UFC, Dana White

The UFC world has been excited about the prospect of Conor McGregor (22-4) and Dustin Poirier (26-6, 1 NC) squaring off for the second time before the end of 2020. The two fighters have agreed to a fight via social media.

McGregor came out on Twitter and said that he accepted the UFC’s offer to rematch Poirier. However, McGregor stated that the fight had to take place in 2020. After the inactivity this year, McGregor is itching to get back into a UFC cage.

Poirier was on board with the plan. However, the UFC was not. Many people believed that the UFC would figure out a way to work McGregor – Poirier 2 into the schedule. However, Dana White said today that the promotion is giving the two fighters a take it or leave it deal.

The UFC making a mistake?

White said that the UFC offered McGregor the Poirier fight on January 23rd. However, the promotion would not move around their schedule to make it work to have McGregor fight before the end of the year like he wanted.

For context, McGregor is the highest PPV generating fighter the UFC has on the roster. The promotion has agreements to pay their champions PPV money when they are on a PPV event. With McGregor on the card, the champions would make much more money.

The UFC‘s two remaining PPV events of 2020 have a total of four title fights. Two championships on the line at UFC 255 and UFC 256. That means that the promotion would likely have to shell out PPV money to four fighters on the card at least which they won’t do.

That is why the promotion is taking the hard stance and not giving in. Because of the promotion’s stance, we are likely not going to see McGregor rematch with Dustin Poirier. I get both sides, but to me, a lot of the blame should fall on the UFC for failing to book McGregor a fight in the summer to begin with.

White publicly said that the promotion wanted to wait to get fans back before McGregor fought again. The live gate for Conor McGregor fights is off the charts. Because they held out too long, McGregor walked away. Now, they are letting a McGregor fight slip through their hands once again.

New York Yankees News: Brian Cashman speaks out on Gary Sanchez and others (videos)

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

The New York Yankees are coming off a disappointing season and postseason. They lost the division and the postseason to the same team, the Tampa Bay Rays.  Since there exit from the postseason, there has been much bantering and reporting on what went wrong and how to fix it before the  2021 coming season.

Today via Zoom, New York General Manager Brian Cashman addressed several subjects. Among one of the most intriguing subjects was if Gary Sanchez would be the team’s everyday catcher. Cashman would not commit to an answer but offered that it was a very fair question.

Cashman indicated while he tiptoed around the question, saying that Gary Sanchez is a very talented player. He couldn’t decide whether his poor play resulted from the coronavirus or for some other reason.  He pointed out that Kyle Higashioka stepped in at the end of the season and was able to do what he did. Higashioka caught New York Yankee ace Gerrit Cole and others very well. He had fewer passed balls and fewer errors than Sanchez, based on a regular season. He was also a more timely hitter, striking out fewer times and had a batting average of nearly .100 higher than Sanchez.

Gary Sanchez started with a bang in 2016. He hit 20 home runs slashing .299/.376/.557 in 229 plate appearances, but his offense and defense have been inconsistent since then. In 2019 he had a career-high 34 home runs but only garnered a .232 batting average. In 2018 his batting average was just .186, and this year a worse .147. Also, this year his defense at backstop reverted back to passed balls and errors.

The Yankees have long supported Sanchez as the Yankee catcher of the future. With his horrible performance this season, that support seems to be waning. Late in the season, Manager Aaron Boone benched him not only in Gerrit Cole’s starts but in a few others as well. When the postseason came about, the Yankees went with Kyle Higashioka four of the seven games. With the cracks in support, it’s a fair question to ask if Sanchez with be the catcher as we advance, or if they will go with Kyle Higashioka, or maybe look to acquiring a catcher like J.T. Realmuto.

In the Zoom interview, Cashman touched on many other subjects as well, including the questionable play of Gleyber Torres at short.

Cashman also commented on Luke Voit’s foot issues saying that Luke Voit has plantar fasciitis. He will be in a walking boot for one week. They believe that will resolve the issue. Along with Luke Voit, he spoke about Gio Urshela’s right elbow bone spur and Luis Severino’s recovery from Tommy John surgery.

 

New York Yankees: Brian Cashman offers update on Luis Severino’s recovery

New York Yankees, Luis Severino

The New York Yankees were recently eliminated from the playoffs by the Tampa Bay Rays. It was in the American League Division Series, and a lack of depth in both the starting rotation and the bullpen were among the primary culprits.

Behind ace Gerrit Cole, the Yankees just didn’t have enough reliable starters to overcome the Rays and their boatload of options both in the rotation and in the bullpen. Masahiro Tanaka wasn’t sharp in the ALDS, Deivi Garcia was barely deployed and J.A. Happ failed in his “bulk” reliever appearance in Game 2.

Injuries robbed the New York Yankees the chance of having two top-tier starters in the playoffs this year: James Paxton and Luis Severino. The latter didn’t even pitch during the regular season, as he underwent Tommy John surgery in February and was lost for 2020 even before the pandemic entered the scenario.

What will the Yankees’ rotation next year?

Regarding his availability for 2021, Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman offered some news. Whether they are good or bad would depend on when you were expecting the team to have Severino back.

Severino has been throwing from 90 feet in his rehabilitation from the dreaded surgery, according to what Brian Cashman said Wednesday.

The right-hander, per Cashman, will return around June or July 2021. There is a possibility that the Yankees’ talented hurler is held back until after the All-Star break, which gives the team some sense of urgency at the time of addressing the rotation during this offseason.

Paxton, Happ and Tanaka will all hit free agency after the 2020 World Series. Cole, Garcia, Clarke Schmidt, Jordan Montgomery and Domingo German are currently in the Yankees’ plans to be members of next year’s rotation, barring an acquisition or three. If healthy, Severino will represent a huge boost for the Yankees’ chances of making a deep October run in 2021.