UFC booking Dominick Reyes – Jiri Prochazka

Dominick Reyes

The UFC just ended their second stint on Fight Island over the weekend. However, Dana White said that the promotion would waste no time in getting back to work once they landed in the US. He wasn’t kidding about that one.

Dana White told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto that the UFC is currently working to finalize a light heavyweight contest between Dominick Reyes (12-2) and Jiri Prochazka (27-3-1). The fight would headline a UFC fight night that will take place on February 27th.

This is a massive fight for a light heavyweight division that just crowned a new king. After reigning over the division for most of the past decade, Jon Jones decided to vacate the title and move to heavyweight. That opened the door for UFC 253.

At UFC 253, Reyes took on Jan Blachowicz for the vacant light heavyweight title. The underdog, Blachowicz, would go on to stop Reyes in the second round to become the first male Polish champion in the history of the UFC.

UFC Light Heavyweight Main Event

For Reyes, he will get a golden chance to bounce back. Prior to the loss at UFC 253, Reyes had lost a decision to Jon Jones. However, there were a lot of people who thought Reyes won that fight. Some considered him the uncrowned champion leading into UFC 253.

Reyes had been unbeaten and defeated fighters like Jared Cannonier, Chris Weidman, Vokan Oezdemir, and Ovince St. Preux. The Devastator will look to get right back into the title picture with a victory on February 27th.

There was a ton of hype surrounding the UFC debut of Jiri Prochazka. Prochazka made his debut on the UFC’s first stint on Fight Island. The charismatic fighter from the Czech Republic showed off his entertaining style in his fight with Volkan Oezdemir.

His unorthodox style caused Oezdemir to never get comfortable. In the second round, Prochazka turned the lights out with a sensational knockout. Prochazka hasn’t lost since 2015, and a victory over Reyes would likely earn him a shot at the light heavyweight title.

New York Giants: Pros and cons of a potential Kevin Zeitler trade

The 2020 NFL trade deadline is right around the corner. The New York Giants have already gotten active, trading away edge rusher Markus Golden to the Arizona Cardinals for a sixth-round draft pick. The Giants have had a few other players’ names come up in trade discussions, too. Veteran wide receiver Golden Tate is a trade candidate whose value is increasing. Offensive guard Kevin Zeitler is another name that teams have called about.

Kevin Zeitler was traded to the Giants in 2019. Since then, he has started in all but one game for the Giants. Zeitler has been one of the team’s best players since his arrival in New Jersey. But with the Giants sitting at the bottom of the NFC East with a lowly 1-6 record, there is a chance they start to sell off their best players to the highest bidders. How would the Giants benefit from a potential Kevin Zeitler trade?

Pros

The Giants are a young, rebuilding football team. They invested heavily into their offensive line this offseason, particularly through the 2020 NFL Draft. New York drafted two offensive tackles and one interior offensive lineman in this year’s draft. That interior offensive lineman is Shane Lemieux out of Oregon, and he would be the new starting right guard if Kevin Zeitler were to be traded.

If Zeitler were to be traded, the Giants would be able to give Lemieux a starting role for the final 8 weeks of the season. This would allow them to have plenty of NFL film on Lemieux going into the offseason before deciding whether or not to sign or draft another offensive lineman.

Best case scenario, Lemieux impresses and instills confidence in the Giants that he can be a long-term starter at offensive guard. Worst case scenario, Lemieux struggles and proves not to be the long-term answer, indicating to the Giants that they need to find a new offensive guard in the offseason.

Regardless, Kevin Zeitler is not a long-term answer at offensive guard. He is 31-years-old and has not been the same player this year that he was the seasons prior. Moving on from Zeitler would also free up $10 million in salary cap for the Giants (Spotrac).

Trading away Kevin Zeitler would likely acquire the Giants a day-two pick in the NFL Draft. He is their best offensive player and most valuable trade asset. The Giants would be able to gain draft capital and give Shane Lemieux valuable game experience. These are great benefits to trading away Kevin Zeitler, but there are drawbacks also.

Cons

If the Giants do trade Kevin Zeitler away, their offensive line will be going from bad to worse. The Giants’ offensive line is one of the worst in the NFL despite having Kevin Zeitler in the starting five. Taking him away would put Daniel Jones in harm’s way.

Additionally, taking Kevin Zeitler out of the starting lineup and thrusting Shane Lemieux in there could be bad for the rookie out of Oregon. Lemieux was a mid-round draft pick that is being developed behind Kevin Zeitler at the moment.

If he is ready to take on a starting role, then the Giants would probably be excited to get him out there in some capacity. But Lemieux has not lined up at offensive guard once this season, just a few snaps at fullback. If he is not ready to play, the Giants might risk stunting his growth by forcing him into the starting lineup to face tough competition.

The Giants have about a week to get a deal done if they plan on trading away Kevin Zeitler. Zeitler is a valuable and talented player, but if Gettleman and the Giants want to play the long game, they might benefit from moving on from the veteran offensive guard.

New York Islanders: Joshua Ho-Sang Arbitration Gets Settled

New York Islanders‘ general manager, Lou Lamoriello has done it again. Lamoriello has settled Ho-Sang’s arbitration and boy did he get a good deal done.

Most times the team is at a disadvantage  during arbitration hearings. Lamoriello decided to take matters into his own hands and sign him before the hearing.

The Islanders re-signed Josh Ho-Sang to a one year deal worth $700k. Lamoriello signed a diamond in the rough for the league minimum.

This is why Lamoriello is the best general manager in Hockey. He re-signed a possible solid young piece for an insanely cheap amount. As Ho-Sang gets back on board for at least another year, what does this mean for him going forward?

Minors

Joshua Ho-Sang is going straight to the minors. His new contract has a stipulation, it’s a two-way deal. What is a two-way deal?

It’s a stipulation that means the players’ contract is dependant on which league he plays in. If Joshua Ho-Sang plays in the AHL this year, he is only owed $250k.

The Islanders have major cap space issues, and Ho-Sang almost caused a riot if he got to his court hearing date. Arbitration hearings are what got Devon Toews traded, one can only imagine what Lamoriello would’ve done if he couldn’t reach a deal before this date. Joshua Ho-Sang will play all of this year in the AHL, and then the Islanders will have to reevaluate him.

Who Are They Resigning?

This version of Ho-Sang must be the best version of Ho-Sang. Lou Lamoriello has already stated what he thinks of him, and it’s not too positive. Ho-Sang is a bust, and there’s no way around that. He had that one exciting year in 2016, but never improved on it. Ho-Sang always had silky mitts and a great offensive mind, but he doesn’t fit this system. He almost never backchecked let alone forechecked.

This is why he’ll never make the Islanders, he doesn’t play defense. Although there may be a lot of negatives in his play, it is worth a shot to sign him to a minimum deal and see him maybe breakout. The Islanders did a great job developing some of their younger players as of late, it’s worth a shot to see how Ho-Sang turns out.

Could the New York Yankees reunite with Austin Romine in 2021?

After the 2019 season, the New York Yankees let backup catcher Austin Romine walk in free agency, and he signed a 1 year, $4.1 million deal with the Detroit Tigers. Since the deal was just one year long, it means he’s a free agent once again. Could the Yankees reunite with him in 2021?

It’s no question that the Yankees have struggled to get output from the catcher position over the past few seasons. Ever since Aaron Boone became manager, things went downhill for Gary Sanchez. 2019 was mediocre for him with a .238 average and a .841 OPS, but bat under .200 with a sub-.700 OPS in both 2018 and 2020.

Could a Romine reunion in The Bronx could help with that problem? With Gary Sanchez struggling and question marks surrounding current back-up Kyle Higashioka, Romine might not be a bad signing.

Romine’s 2019 season with the Yankees was solid. With Gary Sanchez making multiple trips to the IL, Romine’s role expanded. He hit .281 in 228 at-bats, hitting eight home runs and driving in 35 runs. He had a .748 OPS with a 96 OPS+. For a backup catcher, those numbers are very respectable.

With the Tigers in 2020, Romine didn’t see as much success as the year prior, but played well enough for his role. He was technically the starter, however he didn’t play as much as many starting catchers do. In the 60 game season, Romine bat .238 in 130 at-bats, hitting two home runs and driving in 17. He played just 37 games.

The Yankees have seemingly developed a catching problem over the past three years. Could bringing Austin Romine back in pinstripes help with that problem?

New York Yankees outright reserve catcher off the Major League roster and send him to Triple-A

New York Yankees

The New York Yankees are beginning to plan for the 2021 season, and even made a minor roster move on Tuesday. Earlier today, the Bombers outrighted catcher Wynston Sawyer off the Major League roster and onto the roster of Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

This means that Sawyer cleared waivers after being designated for assignment, so he was “outrighted” from the 40-man roster and transferred to the roster of a minor-league affiliate of the Yankees, in this case, Triple-A. Sawyer is no longer part of the 40-man roster.

The information was provided by the New York Yankees’ PR Twitter account, @YankeesPR.

Sawyer joined the organization in August and was assigned to their alternate training site. The idea was for Sawyer to provide some additional catching depth in the Yankees’ 60-man player pool. His previous organization was the Minnesota Twins. With them, he hit .260/.333/.409 with two home runs over 43 games in their Triple-A affiliate in 2019.

Sawyer will turn 29 next month, so he’s no prospect. However, he hasn’t made his big league debut yet. He could reach the bigs with the Yankees in 2021 as a backup catcher if needed.

The Yankees’ catching situation

The Yankees currently have Gary Sanchez and Kyle Higashioka as the top two backstops in the organization. They are not expected to upgrade the position in the offseason, but there could be an open competition between the two for starting duties given that the struggling Sanchez (.147/.253/.365) had a terrible 2020 and lost his starting gig in the postseason to Higashioka (.223/.354/.392) who is the superior defender.

Having Sawyer around as depth could be useful if he’s ever needed, in case Sanchez or Higgy go down with a long-term injury.

Sawyer has some pop, as evidenced by his career-high 12 homers in the 2016 minor league season. He also has decent on-base skills and can take a walk if he’s not given anything to hit.

Steve Nash embraces pressure in Brooklyn: ‘We’re playing for a championship’

The only thing missing in Steve Nash‘s resume as an NBA player was a championship.

Now, he’ll be chasing that ring once again as he embarks on a coaching career with the Brooklyn Nets.

“I’m here to help this group fulfill its potential,” Nash said during his virtual Town Hall on YES network on Tuesday. “That’s really my biggest goal by a long shot. I’m definitely not here to raise my profile, I’m not here to get credit for anything. I really want to work with these guys and put them in a position to be their best individually and collectively.”

It’s that kind of personality and temperament that made the Nets management believed that he’s the right guy to lead their team oozing with talent but has also become combustible with too many big personalities in the locker room.

With a healthy Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Nets will be entering next season with championship expectations.

Nash acknowledged that. It’s the challenge that gravitated him towards the bench.

“We’re playing for a championship,” Nash said. “I don’t want to say that anything less than a championship is not a success because you never know what happens in life, you never know the way the ball bounces. Fortune is a big part of winning an NBA championship.”

“But we are playing for a championship and we’re going to build accordingly. We’re going to frame everything we do in the lens of, ‘Is this a championship characteristic?’ or ‘Is this worth championship quality?'”

Nash’s teams, when he was still a player, were always fun to watch, but when pitted against the better defensive teams in the playoffs, they were always outmatched.

Now that he’s switched from directing plays from the court to the sidelines, Nash wants to inject his offensive brilliance to this loaded Nets team. But he also wants to push the envelope and focus on what really matters.

“I will say that defense is our No. 1 priority,” Nash said. “Protecting the paint and guarding the basket is going to be the bedrock of our defense.

“We realize to win a championship we’ve got to be a very strong defensive team, great cohesion, clear understanding of our principles and be able to execute them with variation every night because every team we play is going to be different.”

The Nets have undergone radical transformations since Nash’s former Phoenix Suns’ teammate Sean Marks became the team’s general manager.

Marks has done a remarkable job pulling the Nets out of the rabbit hole along with the help of player development guru Kenny Atkinson. Together, they slowly built a culture that captivated Durant and Irving.

From a fringe playoff contender, the Nets became a championship contender overnight.

But the arrival of the two superstars who “have been there, done that” created a friction with Atkinson, who’s never won.

With the weight of championship expecation hanging over their heads, the Nets’ margin for error have become too small. But the locker room has become too big for Atkinson to manage.

The well-respected Nash comes into the picture with the expectation that he can diffuse the situation and make calibration that they hope would fulfill their championship aspiration.

Nash have played with different characters and personalities when he was still a player. And in the last few years as a consultant, he’s seen up close how Steve Kerr managed the egos of multiple superstars including Durant at the height of the Golden State Warriors dynasty.

Irving and Durant recently discussed publicly how they look forward to their first season together on court in Brooklyn.

“I don’t really see us having a head coach,” Irving said on Durant’s Podcast. “KD could be a head coach, I could be a head coach some days.

Nash has no ego when he was a superstar in the league. He still carries the same temperament as he tries to navigate the delicate nature of his new job.

Nash, technically a newbie, says his coaching philosophy is still under construction. It will come with experience. But while the complexities and nuances are yet to be defined, the foundation is simple: it is based on player relationship and collaborative approach that Durant and Irving have sought.

“It’s all sort of to be determined, and I definitely don’t wanna come in with too many hard-and-fast concepts and designs,” Nash said. “I’d much rather come in with principles with ideas that allow our players to collaborate with us and allow their personalities and the dynamic between them and the chemistry to have a role in how it evolves.”

What Nash lacks in coaching experience, he compensates it with the sensibilities of being a former superstar in the league.

He said he owe it to his former coach Mike D’Antoni, who could join him in his staff next season.

“People talk about the Phoenix teams I played on, and this sort of revolutionary tone of how it impacted the game, but the truth be told, Mike D’Antoni’s brilliance in much of that was he allowed it to evolve instead of getting in the way,” Nash explained.

“I feel like a lot of coaches feel the need to design every aspect of something, and I feel you leave too much on the table that can be found through the personalities, the connectivity, the dynamic on the floor and in the room.”

With the NBA evolving into a superstar-driven league, Nash knows what it takes to cater to them.

Nash’s freedom in D’Antoni’s system made him a back-to-back league MVP but never a champion. Now he has the opportunity to change some things from his vantage point as a coach and imprint his signature that he hopes would finally lead to the elusive ring.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Giants sign WR Corey Coleman to the practice squad, what now?

New York Giants, Corey Coleman

The New York Giants made several moves on Tuesday afternoon, signing defensive back Montre Hartage, tight end Rysen John, and wide receiver Corey Coleman to the practice squad.

Coleman is the more notable name of the three, having spent the last two seasons with the Giants, despite not leaving his mark as a former first-round pick.

In 2018, he played in eight games, hauling in five catches for 71 total yards. His lack of impact did not help his cause, and the Giants were expecting big things from him in 2019 before he tore his ACL during training camp.

Coleman stuck around this season during camp but was eventually let go in favor of former Brown’s receiver, Damian Ratley.

Ratley has since been released, and the Giants are taking another gander at Coleman, who will likely be activated as a kick returner and reserve receiver.

Currently, the Giants have been utilizing back-up CB Corey Ballentine as a primary kick returner, but Coleman offers more versatility and experience at the position. In addition, with a lack of healthy receiver, it’s a positive move to re-sign him considering he knows a portion of the playbook and can likely acclimate for efficiently to the offense than an outside option.

Will the UFC book Frankie Edgar – Cory Sandhagen?

Frankie Edgar

One of the more exciting divisions in the UFC right now is the bantamweight division. Just in the past few months, there has been a slew of incredible fights and a new champion was crowned. The division is stacked and loaded with talent.

One of those guys is the former UFC lightweight champion, Frankie Edgar (24-8-1). The Answer made his bantamweight debut back in August when he defeated Pedro Munhoz in an excellent fight. This is the third UFC weight class for Edgar.

With the win and his name recognition, Edgar established himself near the top of the division. Edgar is also teammates with Marlon Moraes. Moraes is another top ten bantamweight who fought for the UFC title just last year.

Moraes is coming off of a loss a few weeks ago at the hands of Cory Sandhagen (13-2). Sandhagen bounced back from his first loss in the UFC to destroy Marlon Moraes. It was the best performance of Sandhagen’s career.

After the fight was over, Sandhagen had a couple of names on his wish list. One of the names being former UFC bantamweight champion, TJ Dillashaw. While the other was Frankie Edgar. This got Edgar’s attention, and he wants the fight.

Will the UFC make it happen?

Either one of the options that Sandhagen mentioned would be good options for the UFC. Dillashaw was the champion before he was suspended by USADA. You can expect him to be right back in the mix upon his return.

However, two years off is a long time off. We don’t know what kind of TJ Dillashaw we are going to see when he comes back. We know exactly what we are going to get from Frankie Edgar. Edgar looked rejuvenated in his last UFC victory at bantamweight.

If the UFC books Sandhagen – Edgar, the winner would be first in line to fight for the title. At UFC 256, Petr Yan is defending his title against Aljamain Sterling. It makes sense that their be a title eliminator around the same time. I think Edgar – Sandhagen is going to be the UFC‘s first option.

These Yankees’ players will get some much-needed action in the Dominican league

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

A trio of struggling, high-profile New York Yankees‘ players will use the winter leagues to restore some confidence and stay in competition shape with the 2021 campaign in mind. Enrique Rojas of ESPN.com reported that Toros del Este manager Lino Rivera confirmed catcher Gary Sanchez, infielder/outfielder Miguel Andujar, and pitcher Domingo German as members of the team that will compete in the Dominican League (LIDOM.)

Andujar is expected in the Toros’ training camp on Wednesday, per Rojas. The talented hitter had a rough season with the New York Yankees in 2020, slashing .242/.277/.355 with a .274 wOBA, a 71 wRC+ and only one home run. If everybody is healthy on the Yankees’ roster come 2021, there could be no place for the 2018 Rookie of the Year runner-up.

As of now, it’s not clear when German and Sanchez will play, but according to Rivera, they will take part in the league. For Sanchez, it could mean the start of a road to redemption with the Yankees, as he had a .147/.253/.365 line with a .271 wOBA and a 69 wRC+. He did hit 10 homers, but the alarming issues to make contact and the presence of the defensively superior Kyle Higashioka resulted in the Kraken losing his starting gig come playoffs time.

German is a candidate to make the Yankees’ rotation

German had a breakout season in 2019, at least in the first half. In September, he was involved in a domestic violence case with his partner and it resulted in a long suspension. The right-hander lost the 2019 postseason and the whole 2020 campaign, but is eligible to come back in 2021.

For German, the Yankees would be happy if he gets some innings after such a long layoff. If he impresses in winter league and in spring training, he could find himself with a rotation spot in March, as the team will lose three arms in free agency: Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and J.A. Happ.

The LIDOM is perhaps the best and strongest winter league, so having the three struggling stars getting some reps in a competitive environment is excellent news for the Yankees.

New York Mets: Jeff Wilpon is already saying goodbye; Steve Cohen era is around the corner

New York Mets, Jeff Wilpon

Hedge fund billionaire and longtime New York Mets‘ fan Steve Cohen earned the right to exclusively negotiate to acquire the team, and the transaction is all but done already. The only thing separating Cohen from his beloved Mets is the approval of at least 23 of 29 MLB owners, and that is expected to come soon.

As a result, current New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon, whose family has been in charge of the team since 2002, is already sending his goodbye messages around the organization. That is another signal that the sale of the club is right around the corner and a matter of days, not weeks.

NJ.com writes that Cohen could take over the Mets within a week, and that has prompted Wilpon to begin his farewell messages.

A Mets’ goodbye call

According to the New York Post, a Mets source told that the team held “an organization-wide Zoom call to award employees who had reached milestones for service. At the conclusion of the call, COO Jeff Wilpon thanked all of the employees and bid them farewell, a strong sign that a change in ownership is imminent.”

Sportico reported some of the call details. “One person on call said: `It was definitely a goodbye.’ Wilpon talked highs: 2015 World Series; Building CitiField and lows: not winning as much. Call lasted 15-20 mins. Wilpon named people with many years w/ club.”

Since the Wilpons took over the Mets, the team advanced to the 2015 World Series, which they lost to the Kansas City Royals.

Just a few days ago, the league’s ownership committee signed off on Cohen’s deal. The so-called formal vote by the 29 remaining owners could come as soon as this week, right after the 2020 World Series.

The Mets were valued at more than $2.4 billion, which is what Steve Cohen bid for the team.