New York Giants: Evan Engram’s drop problem has huge consequences in loss

New York Giants, Evan Engram

Anyone that’s been following the New York Giants over recent years is familiar with the problems around tight end Evan Engram. He hasn’t performed to the standard that’s been expected, he hasn’t been healthy enough to stay on the field much of the time, and he has trouble catching the ball. The last of those problems has stuck around since Engram’s rookie season but has never directly had as big of a consequence as it did in the recent loss to the Eagles.

That’s because in that loss, the Giants held the lead in the fourth quarter. All they had to do was hold onto that lead and let the clock run out, and Daniel Jones did his part in getting a key first down by finding Engram and making a good pass. But of course, Engram dropped the ball, literally, and the Eagles were able to stage a comeback which cost the Giants the game.

Engram drops a perfect pass

You can take a look at the pass for yourself and judge whether or not it’s a reasonable drop for Engram.

The consensus, however, seems to be that the fanbase is finally getting tired of the mistakes from a formerly promising prospect. During the past couple of years, Engram has been off the field more often than not due to injuries. Now that he is back on the field, his problem with dropping the ball has cost the team a game that they definitely should have won.

There’s calls for the Giants to finally trade Engram. But will that happen? Well, the organization had told other teams in 2019 that Engram was untouchable as a trade option. The Giants have been pretty committed to the Engram experiment. The main question now is, will this result shake their faith in a player that’s had many mistakes by now?

NASCAR: Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin’s team has a name

Denny Hemlin

The new NASCAR team’s name pays tribute to both Jordan and Hamlin’s iconic numerals, as Bubba Wallace will drive their first vehicle.

Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin unveiled the name of their new NASCAR Cup Series race team on Thursday, as their new venture will bear the name 23XI Racing. The name pays tribute to the number Jordan wore for a majority of his NBA career, while Hamlin’s No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota is represented via Roman numerals. Jordan’s number will also grace the track, as Bubba Wallace will drive the No. 23 Toyota when the team makes its debut next season.

“Michael and I have a shared vision for this team,” Hamlin said in a statement on the team website. “It’s exciting to see it reflected in the team name and on the race car with the iconic number 23 that Michael made famous.”

Jordan first wore No. 23 during his days at Laney High School (NC), encouraged to do by splitting the number his older brother Larry wore (45) in half. He could go on to keep the number for his collegiate and professional career with the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards, with the exception of his return from a year-long retirement in 1995, when he took the aforementioned 45.

No. 23 has had a less cherished past in the history of the NASCAR Cup Series. No car bearing the number has finished in a Cup Series race’s top ten since Kenny Wallace did so with Bill Davis Racing at the Bristol event in August 2003. Al Keller was the last driver to win a race in such a car, his victory coming back in 1954. Notable drivers to previously represent the number include Michael Waltrip and current playoff driver Alex Bowman, who ran the numbers in his first season of full-time Cup Series racing with the low-budget BK Racing.

Hamlin’s No. 11 has a more cherished place in NASCAR history, as, in terms of wins, it’s the most successful number on the Cup Series circuit (224). Names like Hamlin, Ned Jarrett, Junior Johnson, Mario Andretti, Buddy Baker, A.J. Foyt, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Terry Labonte, and Bill Elliott have all contributed to that tally. Hamlin has earned seven wins this season and continues to compete for the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series title. The No. 43 is second in that tally with 199 wins, all earned by Richard Petty. Wallace will run his final races in the car over the next three before joining Hamlin and Jordan’s endeavor. Petty’s race team announced this week that Erik Jones, currently Hamlin’s teammate at JGR, will succeed him the No. 43 next season.

The NASCAR Cup Series continues its trek toward the title at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN). Hamlin will start seventh, while Wallace will start the race in 18th.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Juan Archuleta will defend Bellator title against Sergio Pettis in 2021

Juan Archuleta

Last month, Bellator crowned a new bantamweight champion. That champion’s name is Juan Archuleta. Archuleta took on Patchy Mix on September 12th and walked away with a unanimous decision and the Bellator bantamweight title.

It was a massive moment of redemption for Archuleta who had long been after the Bellator title. When there was a state of limbo at bantamweight, Archuleta went up to featherweight to fight Patricio Pitbull to try go capture a title.

However, Pitbull turned away Archuleta. After fighting to an impressive 24-2 record, Archuleta finally got his chance at Bellator 246. Mix looked really good early on, but Archuleta remained patient. The vet had a game plan and he executed it perfectly.

Archuleta knew that Mix would tire in the championship rounds. That is exactly what happened, and Archuleta took over the fight capturing the Bellator title. Today, we learned who Archuleta’s first title defense would come against.

Archuleta made an appearance today on “Live with Kelly and Ryan,” where he announced his next plans. “Our next fight, we’re shooting for the first of the year. The the first card back (after the new year) against Sergio Pettis. That’s the fight I originally wanted for the belt,” Archuleta said.

Bellator’s next bantamweight title fight

Sergio Pettis has looked really good since making the jump from the UFC to Bellator. Since joining the Viacom promotion, Pettis has gone 3-0. His last fight he looked very good using his technical striking to defeat Ricky Bandejas at Bellator 242.

Many people believed that Pettis would get the next shot at whoever won at Bellator 246. Now, we know for sure that Pettis will be the first challenger to Archuleta’s title. This should be a fantastic matchup for Bellator to kickoff their 2021 schedule.

Pettis is going to present some interesting challenges for Archuleta. His technical striking and range control could help him win the title. However, Archuleta is a handful for anyone and it’s going to be extremely tough getting that belt away from him now.

BREAKING: New York Yankees’ Clint Frazier and Gio Urshela named Gold Glove Award finalists

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

Rawlings has named New York Yankees third-baseman Gio Urshela and right-fielder Clint Frazier Gold Glove award finalists at their respective positions.

Urshela, always carrying the reputation of being a great defender, is looking for his first Gold Glove award. 2020 saw him with a 0.7 dWAR and six defensive runs saved in 43 games. Additionally, he held a .992 fielding with just one error.

Since picking him up from the Blue Jays, Urshela has always been one of the most fun defenders to watch. With his extraordinary quickness and reaction-time, not much gets by the 29-year-old.

Urshela will be going against Isiah Kiner-Falefa of the Texas Rangers and Yoan Moncada of the Chicago White Sox for possession of the award. With a 1.3 dWAR, Kiner-Falefa is the favorite to win the award.

Once regarded as one of the worst defenders in baseball, Frazier has improved his defense and showed it off all season. With diving catches, a strong arm, and speed, Frazier played well enough to be named a Gold Glove award finalist.

Frazier unfortunately had a 0.0 dWAR, but managed four defensive runs saved in right-field. In 27 games covering right-field, the 26-year-old had just one error.

To take home the award, Frazier will need to beat out Joey Gallo of the Texas Rangers and Anthony Santander of the Baltimore Orioles. Gallo is the clear favorite with a 1.0 dWAR and a whopping 12 defensive runs saved.

Seeing Frazier as a finalist is a big enough deal as it is. In 2019, Frazier had a -1.0 dWAR and -8 defensive runs saved. Frazier was sent to AAA in 2019 to improve his defense, something he’s battled his entire career. The nomination is enough to prove that his defense has improved and that he deserves to start for a team.

Although both are long-shots to win the awards, congrats to both Urshela and Frazier on the nominations.

Report: MLB to only use DH in American League in 2021

Multiple reports indicate that the DH will be used in the American League only in the MLB in 2021. With the pandemic-shortened season, the MLB decided to use a DH in both leagues with fans approving of the decision. Now in 2021, the league will revert back to having pitchers hit in the NL.

However, the MLB CBA expires at the end of next season. The future of the universal DH will lie through the collective bargaining next offseason.

A universal DH allows for NL teams to bat a regular player in place of the pitcher. Additionally, it reduces the risk of injuries for pitchers as they’d no longer have to hit and run the bases.

Nothing has been finalized yet. Stay tuned for updates.

Khabib Nurmagomedov leaves no secrets about his UFC 254 game plan

One of the most special things about Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0) is his honesty. The UFC lightweight champion never leaves it a secret as to what he’s going to do when he steps into the octagon. This Saturday night is no different.

Nurmagomedov will step into the cage at UFC 254 across from interim champion, Justin Gaethje (22-2). Stylistically, Gaethje might be the toughest test Khabib has ever faced inside of the octagon. Bringing incredible striking power with a wrestling background.

The Highlight was an All-American wrestler in college. However, his striking has become so lethal that he leans on that when he fights. Still, he has that wrestling pedigree in his back pocket whenever he needs it. That’s what makes this fight so intriguing.

However, Nurmagomedov is not changing things up when it comes to this fight. Khabib plans on doing the same thing that he’s done to all 28 of his opponents. He plans on dragging Gaethje to the ground and controlling him just like he’s controlled everyone else.

UFC’s most unstoppable force?

“I know he(Gaethje) knows how to wrestle. But what about wrestling for 25 minutes? If I try to take him down once and he defends, I’m going to go all night. This is a big difference in US wrestling and Dagestan wrestling,” Nurmagomedov told reporters yesterday at the pre-fight press conference.

The UFC lightweight champion is brutally honest. He tells his opponents he’s going to try to take them down all night, yet nobody has been able to stop it. Conor McGregor couldn’t stop it, Dustin Poirier couldn’t stop it, and I could keep going on.

The UFC‘s interim lightweight champion, Gaethje, is the one guy in the division who might be able to stop it. The early rounds are going to be crucial for Justin Gaethje at UFC 254. He needs to inflict as much damage as he can early on in the fight.

He’s going to defend some takedowns on Saturday. However, I would bet my life savings that at some point, Nurmagomedov is going to land a takedown. That is where the real battle begins. Will Gaethje be able to get up, or will he succumb like the 28 men who have tried before him.

New York Yankees News/Rumors: With the Yankees quest for a catcher, will they look to another Molina brother?

It’s no secret that the New York Yankees are in a bit of a quandary as to who will be the 2021 starting catcher for the team. Although past years have been question marks with Gary Sanchez’s strikeouts, poor defense, and the ability to stay healthy this season, the biggest question will be if Sanchez will be the primary catcher for the Yankees going forward. Sanchez stayed healthy throughout the season in which he had his worst performance in his Yankee career. He hit only .147, and his defense was again deficient.

From the time Gary Sanchez burst onto the scene in 2016, the Yankee heralded him as their catcher for the next decade and beyond. 2016 and 2017 made that statement believable. In 2017 he hit 33 homers. But his 2018 season was horrible catching and hitting. In 2019 he had a bit of a bounce-back with some improved catching and 34 home runs. But even with those stats could only garner a .232 batting average. Sanchez is not the player who gets on base; he had never had over 90 RBI’s in his career. This year he reverted to the poor catcher syndrome and merely took up space in the lineup without production.

The New York Yankees have a big decision to make with their backstop. They have to decide if his performance this year was affected by the shortened season or if it’s a sign of his future performance.  Meanwhile, backup catcher Kyle Higashioka has made a name for himself as Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher. Cole lost only one game with Higashioka catching him, and in that game, the Yankees only scored one run. As the season progressed, the Yankee brass began to lose faith in Sanchez, sitting him and letting Higashioka catch more games, even in the postseason.

There is an easy answer to solve the catching problem: for the Yankees to go out and sign arguably the best catcher in the game, J.T. Realmuto, a free agent. However, the likelihood of that happening is near zero. Realmuto will require that the catcher receive a record-breaking contract for a catcher. With the Yankees lack of revenue this year, and upcoming arbitration costs coming up, it is very doubtful the Yankees will spend that kind of money on a catcher.

There are other catchers out there that are free agents, but few that are an upgrade to Sanchez. One interesting look is Yadier Molina.  The Yankees have turned to one of the Molina brothers before. In 2007 they traded for Yadier’s brother Jose when Jorge Posada was injured. They later signed him to a two-year contract through 2009. Jose won a world series ring in 2009. The three Molina brothers are the only threesome in baseball to all win World Series rings.

The 38-year-old Molina has spent all 17 years of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals but now is a free agent. The Cards will make every effort to keep him there. Molina is without question one of his generation’s best catchers, and if younger, would require a contract similar to Realmuto. Jadier stays healthy and is a contact hitter. He has a career batting average of .281 with over 2,000 hits. The younger Molina brother would answer the pitching problem and would only cost a fraction of Realmuto’s projected salary.  Jadier has said he would love to pitch into his ’40s and would require at least a two-year contract.

Molina might be happy to catch where his brother caught with the Yankees. Molina has earned a ton of money in his career and may be more interested in career-defining moments to help him in his quest for the Baseball Hall of Fame. He knows with the present Cardinal team that is not likely to happen in the next few years. A Yankees World Series ring might entice him to become a New York Yankee.

With the Yankee’s shortage of money and other unavoidable costs, I feel the Yankees will do nothing to solve the catching problem, and instead, will focus on improving the pitching situation that many feel caused the Yankees to both lose the division and in the postseason.  The New York Yankees may very well let Gary Sanchez and Kyle Higashioka fight it out in spring training for that starting catcher spot. The Yankees should also resign backup catcher Erik Kratz, who works very well with the Yankees’ young pitching prospects.

One of the more memorable quotes of the 2020 season is when Erik Kratz, upon catching Deivi Garcia’s Major League debut, ran from the dugout shouting, “I’m going to catch my son.”

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow him on Twitter @parleewilliam.

 

Yankees’ Domingo German fires back at Marcus Stroman’s twitter tirade over starting pitching rotation

New York Yankees, New York Mets, Marcus Stroman

New York Yankees’ starting pitcher Domingo German had a few words for Marcus Stroman following his words on Twitter about the Yankee pitching rotation. Currently a free agent, Stroman replied to Barstool Sports’ Journalist Jared Carrabis saying that the Yankees are currently in a drought and they should be winning World Series’ “left and right” with their current payroll.

An Instagram account (@yankeesavenue) made a post following this tweet with a photo of Luis Severino who is supposed to return for next season after undergoing Tommy John surgery and missing all of the 2020 season, hinting that the Yankees still have Sevy.

German commented on this photo, “talking sh*t coño.” If you’re unaware of what that word means, it’s time to check out a translater for a good laugh.

Despite this short social media tirade, Stroman did pay respect to Luis Severino saying via a tweet, “Forgot about Sevy! When he’s healthy, he’s unreal. One of my favorites to watch. Cole and Severino. There’s still 3 spots in that staff that need help! Am I wrong? Lol.”

Stroman also mentioned that even though he wasn’t trying to knock the Yankees and he was just simply sharing his thoughts, he said that he’s open to competing anywhere. In a replied tweet Stroman said, “I don’t hold grudges ever. I’m open to compete wherever next year. Excited to see how free agency plays out!” and “I’m open to competing wherever my man! That’s including the Mets and Yankees!”

After electing to not play during the 2020 season after suffering a calf injury, Stroman’s contract with the New York Mets has expired and he’s now an unrestricted free agent. The Yankees currently are looking to possibly add one more solid starter to the rotation and it’ll be interesting to see if this small knock on the Yanks will affect that.

New York Giants pre-game updates: Andrew Thomas starting, Sterling Shepard giving it a go, more!

New York Giants, Sterling Shepard

One of the big questions leading up to the New York Giants’ Week 7 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles was who their starting left tackle would be.

After 4th overall pick, Andrew Thomas was punished for being late to a meeting last week, missing the first series, and losing out on reps to Matt Peart, it seems as if he will be back in the starting lineup against Philly.

This was to be expected, as you simply don’t give up on a talent of Thomas’ quality after just six games. While he has been problematic in pass blocking and below average in run blocking, he’s taking gradual steps forward to justify retaining him in the starting group.

However, Peart made it extremely difficult to exclude him, so I imagine management might give him reps at right tackle throughout the contest if they don’t end up starting him there, to begin with. Recent free-agent signing Cam Fleming has been tumultuous as well on the opposite side of Thomas, finishing week 6 with a 44.6 overall grade, per PFF.

This was Fleming’s worst run-blocking game by a large margin, and his pass blocking has consistently decreased in efficiency since Week 4 against the Rams. Overall, he needs more consistency if he wants to retain his starting position, as Peart is certainly knocking on the door and looking for more action to continue his development.

Peart had a fantastic game in the run blocking department last week against Washington, holding his own and looking sharper than Thomas through six weeks. Nonetheless, it was a lesser sample size, and the Giants need to see more from him if they want to feel confident he can hold it down for the remainder of the season. It seems as if the Giants are on the same white wave-length as the fans, in the sense that they want Thomas and Peart to end up being their starting tackles for the future.

I believe they envision Peart on the right side, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they rotate Fleming and the young Connecticut product against the Eagles.

The New York Giants should be gaining back any other playmaker on offense:

In addition to the tackle conundrum, the Giants are also expecting wide receiver Sterling Shepard to give it a go on Thursday night. Considering this is one of the more important games of the year, as a win would inject the Giants right into the playoff race for the NFC East, having all of their weapons available would be huge.

Shepard has missed the past four games with a turf toe injury, and even if he has a setback against Philadelphia, he will have an additional three weeks to recover. The Giants play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (very tough game) in week 8 and then have their BYE, giving him a cushion of recovery time in the worst-case scenario.

Tony Ferguson is becoming fed up with the UFC

Tony Ferguson, UFC

One of the best lightweights in the world is not very happy with the UFC. That lightweight would be former interim champion Tony Ferguson. El Cucuy hasn’t fought since May when he lost an interim title fight to Justin Gaethje.

Ferguson was originally supposed to face UFC lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, that night, but due to travel restrictions, the fight was cancelled. Ferguson took the fight against Gaethje and was stopped in the fifth round.

Since then, we have not seen Ferguson in action. However, the UFC has tried to make fights for Ferguson. The promotion was trying to book Ferguson opposite Dustin Poirier as the co-main event for this weekend’s UFC 254 card.

However, due to financial negotiations, the fight never came to fruition. Following that, the UFC offered Ferguson a fight against Michael Chandler, however, Ferguson was not interested in fighting Chandler because he viewed it as a step back.

Now, Ferguson appears to be the odd man out at lightweight. The UFC seems to be closing in on booking the rematch between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. Ferguson’s logical opponent is Michael Chandler, but again, Ferguson doesn’t want that fight. He’s becoming increasingly frustrated with the promotion.

El Cucuy vs the UFC

“Chandler? Think about this: How many times are you going to put another f–king person in the f–king shuffle of cards? Dana keeps shuffling me down the list. What? Because I’m f–king Mexican? What’d I do to you? Why do you treat me like s–t,” Ferguson told MMA Junkie.

Ferguson went onto talk about how he feels that the UFC should pay him more given his history with the promotion. Ferguson has been with the UFC since 2011 when he won the Ultimate Fighter. He’s been one of the best lightweights in the world since that time.

Despite losing in his last fight at UFC 249, Ferguson wants his money to be raised for his next fight. If he doesn’t see the numbers climb, it appears that he’s willing to sit out. We’ve seen this several times this year with Jon Jones and Jorge Masvidal. 

However, it’s very rare that these kind of situations ever favor the fighter. The UFC is booming right now and if Ferguson doesn’t want to fight, White and the UFC won’t cave. They could find another fight for Michael Chandler like Dan Hooker. 

At the end of the day, I think it’s best for all parties for this situation to be resolved. There has to be a middle ground somewhere that will make both sides happy. I think all fans would be happy to see Ferguson fighting again sooner rather than later.