New York Giants finding it hard to solve close game problem, says Garrett

Going into their Monday Night Football matchup with the Bucs, some might expect a close game from the New York Giants. That’s because they’ve been in a number of close games already this season. But more often than not, they’ve come out with a loss instead of the result they were desiring.

It’s a problem that’s plagued the team this season and mention of that problem made its way to offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, who was asked on Friday about the team’s close game problem and had an in depth reply when asked about solving that problem.

“Well, I don’t know if you ever solve it. Every week in the NFL, these games come down to one possession. It’s really all across the league. If you look at the stats, the teams that make the playoffs, the teams that don’t make the playoffs, the number of one-score games, they’re pretty similar,” Garrett told reporters.

“All the stuff that you emphasize from day one throughout your football team, that’s the stuff that wins the game at the end of the game. At times this year, we’ve done a good job of that. Other times, we simply haven’t. We have to do a better job. Us as coaches, we always look at ourselves first,” the offensive coordinator continued.

It’s hard to say that the Giants coaching staff has performed at peak efficiency this season. But that’s not surprising, given how many new staff members there are compared to previous seasons. It seemed the team was close to figuring it out against Philadelphia, and then the end of the game ruined any momentum.

Against a good opponent like Tampa Bay, the Giants will definitely have a sink or swim moment ahead of them. To either get back that momentum, or sink further.

New York Islanders: International prospects update

Ruslan Iskhakov, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders have a bunch of prospects playing right now, all over the world. Coverage in places like Finland and Russia isn’t as good as it is in America. I’ve taken it upon myself to report and grade some of the Islanders’ best prospects throughout the world. Without any further explanation or build-up, what are the Islanders’ international prospects playing like?

Ruslan Iskhakov

I can guarantee you, that you haven’t heard his name since he was drafted two years ago in the second round. There was a lot of hype for Iskhakov, people compared him to Mika Zibanejad. Ishkakov absolutely destroyed the Slovakia U18 league with 104 points in 2017. After two mediocre seasons at the University of Connecticut, Iskhakov made his way to the TPS. In 9 games, he has 5 points, but he most recently got healthy scratched. Iskhakov may never reach his full potential.

Otto Koivula

Otto Koivula is an NHL hopeful. In and out of the Islanders’ roster, Koivula needs to make his mark overseas. Koivula was put on loan to the Liiga in Finland and has been a solid player for the HIFK. Koivula recorded 3 points in 5 games and continues to impress in the offensive end. If he ever wants a permanent spot in the NHL, Koivula must improve the defensive side of his game.

Oliver Wahlstrom

It’s finally time, it’s Oliver Wahlstrom time. In Sweden, Wahlstrom has proved to be one of the top players for AIK. With 4 points in 6 games and a couple of spectacular goals, Wahlstrom is ready to come back over. Islander fans have been waiting for Wahlstrom for what seems like decades. He recently took a hard fall into the boards that have kept him sidelined for a couple of games, but he will be fine. Wahlstrom is ready.

Simon Holmstrom

Simon Holmstrom is so unbelievably streaky. Sometimes he’s on his games, and other games he literally just skates around. In 6 games with HC Vita Hasten, Holmstrom recorded 2 points. Holmstrom is not a goal scorer by any means; I look at him as a Zach-Aston Reese type player. Holmstrom is not ready for the NHL now, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be ready next year.

Jason Pierre-Paul has aggressive words for Giants in Monday night showdown

New York Giants, Jason Pierre-Paul

Former New York Giants edge rusher, Jason Pierre-Paul, had some mixed remarks when talking about his former team.

Pierre-Paul talked about his former employers with aggression. The Buccaneers defensive end wants to “destroy the Giants” on Monday Night Football, essentially asserting his dominance that New York fans know a lot about.

JPP has had an illustrious career thus far, with the majority of the games coming with the New York Giants. In blue and red, Jason Pierre-Paul had 312 solo tackles, 87 tackles for loss, 58.5 sacks, 13 forced fumbles, two interceptions, and three total touchdowns. He was nothing short of elite as he earned one First-team All-Pro (2011) nomination and was a two-time Pro Bowler (2011, 2012).

However, his dominance did not just pertain to the regular season for Big Blue. What JPP is most known for is the illustrious performance he had in the 2011 season and playoffs. His superb gameplay helped earn the Giants its fourth Lombardi Trophy.

In this season, Pierre-Paul had 86 total tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 28 QB hits,16.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. When it came time for the playoffs, JPP also did not disappoint as he had 18 total tackles, four tackles for loss, four passes defended, and two QB hits. In the Super Bowl specifically, he had one tackle for loss, two passes defended, and one QB hit. This helped cap off one of the most prolific seasons ever from a Giant.

However, now in 2020, JPP will be returning to East Rutherford, a place where he was once adored, as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This will be now his second time playing New York in another jersey but his first time coming back to MetLife.

In this matchup, JPP will be doing everything he can to win and dominate Big Blue. And even though Jason Pierre-Paul may be “coming for their necks” he still has “love” for his former organization and the feeling from Giants fans seems to be mutual.

New York Mets could be the ‘East Coast Dodgers’, per reports

Steve Cohen got the approval of Major League Baseball (MLB) owners on Friday, paving the way for him to become the owner of the New York Mets. In a transaction said to be around $2.4 billion, the hedge fund billionaire acquired the franchise from the Wilpon and Katz families and will now be the wealthiest owner in the league.

However, according to a report from SNY’s Andy Martino, Cohen and Sandy Alderson, appointed as the New York Mets’ president in the new era that is about to begin, probably won’t break the bank for top-tier free agents, at least not in the first season in charge.

That would take the Mets out of the running for three of the heaviest names in the 2020-2021 free agency: catcher J.T. Realmuto, outfielder George Springer, and starting pitcher Trevor Bauer. It wouldn’t be smart to completely dismiss the Mets adding any of those guys, but it is possible that a high profile signing doesn’t occur this year.

Instead, the Mets will probably conduct themselves in a more cautious way.

The Mets will reportedly spend wisely

Per Martino: “What Steve Cohen wants to create is the East Coast Dodgers. It’s about targeted spending: it took them years to finally find their Mookie Betts and give him that huge contract. That’s not something to expect from Cohen and Alderson, they are not necessarily going to do something like that next week, but it means that they are going to strike when they want to and in the meantime, they will build a whole infrastructure” for success.

The Dodgers, as Martino notes, like to spend. After all, they have the financial wellbeing to pay Clayton Kershaw, to sign AJ Pollock, and to trade for Betts knowing they could offer him a max extension. But it’s not just spending for the sake of it: otherwise, for example, they would have signed Manny Machado after giving up some assets to get him.

That’s why Sandy Alderson was Cohen’s choice to run the New York Mets: he will not spend just because. He will do it when it’s necessary, and when the situation requires a substantial commitment.

The Dodgers have created a functional organization with a fantastic player development staff and based on analytics.  They make shrewd free agent signings, they develop stars, and they make smart trades. That’s what Cohen and Alderson want to implement in the Mets.

UFC: Chris Weidman wants Khamzat Chimaev in January

Chris Weidman

For the longest time, the UFC was struggling to find a fight for their breakout star, Khamzat Chimaev (9-0). Chimaev has stormed onto the scene with three incredible fights and finishes here in the second half of 2020.

However, his impressive performance didn’t get him a spot in the UFC rankings. Most people believe Chimaev is one of the best in the world, but without a ranking, many fighters didn’t seem interested in taking the risk to fight him.

One of the fighters who was interested in the fight was the former UFC middleweight champion, Chris Weidman (15-5). Weidman just made his middleweight return back in August when he defeated Omari Akhmedov by unanimous decision.

When speaking to Submission Radio, Weidman says that he accepted the UFC‘s offer to face Chimaev next. “They offered me Chimaev. I said yes. Then I started to get really excited about it. Then I said, ‘I’ve got a little bit of a rib injury right now.’ I told them that I’d fight whoever in mid-January,” Weidman said.

Obviously, Weidman was one of the names the UFC was interested in for Chimaev. Since the talks with Weidman fell apart, the UFC moved on to book Chimaev against Leon Edwards on December 19th. 

Could the former UFC middleweight champion be next?

Weidman made the point that he still wants to fight Chimaev, but only if he’s able to win on December 19th. The former UFC champion said, “If he loses his next fight, the interest would just be completely gone. What’s the purpose of me fighting him?”

The All-American talked about the interest comes from the hype of Chimaev. Given the way the UFC has managed Chimaev’s career so far, I wouldn’t be shocked if he ends up fighting Weidman in January even if he wins on December 19th.

If Chimaev defeats Edwards who is the third ranked welterweight in the UFC, he’s likely going to get a title shot in his next fight. However, with Kamaru Usman – Gilbert Burns not fighting until early 2021, the timeline leaves open another fight for Chimaev.

Chimaev has talked about his desire to bounce back and forth between the welterweight and middleweight division. Don’t be shocked if the UFC still tries to make a fight with Chimaev and Weidman if Khamzat wins on December 19th.

New York Mets: Steve Cohen Now Owns The Franchise

New Yor k Mets, Dominic Smith

After months and months of New York Mets fans begging for our misery to end, it has finally happened. Steve Cohen is now the owner of the franchise and is officially the richest owner in the sport. Major League Baseball’s owner approved the deal around 1:45 p.m. on Friday, and shortly after, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city approves as well.

With Steve Cohen as the franchise owner, the Mets enter a future they have never been in before. They are no longer playing as a “small market” team. Cohen’s Mets are the big fish in a current market where no one is looking to spend. The Mets will be in on every free agent, and no price will be too step for them.

Political Game

Of course, de Blasio had to get some money out of Cohen so he can try to look good. Cohen plans to donate $17.5 million to small businesses in the city and “dramatically increase the giving of the Mets Foundation in the coming years.” He will also return Mets workers to their salaries before the pandemic.

Cohen is a longtime Mets fan who is partnering with Sandy Alderson to bring the franchise back to glory. The big questions that lie ahead come with the future of Brodie Van Wagenen, Luis Rojas, and who is the first big free agent the Mets will bring in.

Buckle up because it is going to be an exciting and wild offseason for the Mets.

UFC: Jan Blachowicz calls for fight with Israel Adesanya

Corey Anderson

The UFC‘s light heavyweight champion has his eyes set on his next opponent. Last month, Jan Blachowicz became the light heavyweight champion of the world when he knocked out Dominick Reyes to cap off an incredible run at UFC 253.

The UFC‘s Polish Power has stormed through his last four opponents on his way to capturing the title. Later that evening, Israel Adesanya put on arguably the best performance of his career when he retained his middleweight crown against Paulo Costa.

Since then, there hasn’t been a ton of specific talk about what’s next for Adesanya or Blachowicz. Dana White said last week that it made sense for Adesanya to fight Robert Whittaker again for the UFC middleweight championship.

However, Adesanya and his camp don’t seem very interested in the matchup. They are looking for a new challenge and that challenge could come in the form of the UFC light heavyweight champion.

Adesanya’s coach did say that the champion’s next fight could come at light heavyweight. This is something that Blachowicz seems interested in. The light heavyweight champ took to Twitter to callout Adesanya for a fight in March.

Will the UFC make it happen?

This would be such an interesting matchup for the UFC to make. On one hand, it would give them a chance to make Adesanya an even bigger star than he already is. Adesanya as a two-division world champion would blow up.

However, it wouldn’t be an easy fight for Adesanya. On paper, Adesanya should pick apart the light heavyweight champion, Blachowicz. Blachowicz would definitely be the slower fighter, however, his power is not to be ignored.

When he hits guys, they just seem to completely change. Many, including myself, thought he would be outgunned against Dominick Reyes. I thought the fluidity of Reyes would give him issues, but Blachowicz’s power just took over at UFC 253.

If Adesanya were to move up and win the UFC light heavyweight title, it could make the potential Jon Jones fight even bigger. Imagine Jones challenging Adesanya for the light heavyweight championship. Or maybe the two-division champion, Adesanya, would want to fight Jones at heavyweight.

However, I would strongly suggest that nobody overlook Blachowicz if this fight was to happen. Adesanya would be the clear favorite, but Blachowicz has power that can change any fight on a dime.

Could the New York Yankees consider signing Charlie Morton?

New York Yankees

On Friday, the Tampa Bay Rays announced that the team wouldn’t be picking up Charlie Morton’s $15 million option, making him a free agent. With the New York Yankees having interest in signing starting pitchers, could the team consider picking up Morton for a short-term deal?

Morton’s short tenure in Houston from 2017-2018 revived his dying career. His 3.36 ERA in two seasons with the Astros made him a big free-agent name heading into 2019. The Rays signed him to a two-year deal, pitching to the tune of a 3.05 ERA with a 16-6 record, finishing in third-place in AL Cy Young award voting.

2020 did see Morton take a step in the wrong direction, hence the reason why the Rays declined his option. He went 2-2 with a 4.74 ERA in nine starts this season.

Over his career, Morton has proven to be one of the best big game pitchers. In 2017, he started game seven of both the ALCS and World Series. One-run outings in each game led the Astros wins in both games and a title. Morton’s 7-3 with a a 3.38 ERA in 13 career postseason starts.

Now this leads to the question on if he could be a good fit on the Yankees. Although Morton is older, he’s gotten better with age and still has velocity. The team recently declined their option on JA Happ, potentially opening a spot for Morton. Additionally, James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka are free-agents, and their spots could be filled by either free-agents or in-house talent.

If the Yankees decided to pursue Morton, it would be a short-term deal, meaning only one or two years. He may still have a little left in the tank, and possibly enough to hold up the back end of the Yankees rotation in 2021.

Two star-caliber pitchers the New York Mets should be pursuing

Simeon Woods-Richardson

The New York Mets‘ struggles with their starting rotation are well-documented. Behind Jacob deGrom, the landscape is not particularly promising for the 2021 season as things stand right now. The good thing is that there will, almost surely, be a new owner in Steve Cohen, and with him, there will be renewed dreams of greatness and competitiveness.

As of right now, deGrom is the unquestioned ace, and David Peterson will be in the rotation, too. The rookie impressed in the condensed 2020 season and showed he has what it takes to get big league hitters out.

Noah Syndergaard will presumably take the second spot in the New York Mets’ rotation once he is ready to return from Tommy John surgery. Since he went under the knife in March, and the expected recovery time is between 14-16 months, he should be back out there by around June or July.

Steven Matz is also under contract, so he could take a spot if he shows in spring training that he is over the shoulder issues that plagued him in 2020. But Marcus Stroman, Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha, which were rotation members to start the season, are now gone. The Mets need to replace them.

What will the Mets do with their rotation?

While Trevor Bauer is in the market, signing him sure won’t be easy for the New York Mets (for everyone, to be fair.) The team could direct its efforts to secure two veteran arms that could make a difference if healthy: Charlie Morton and Corey Kluber.

The Tampa Bay Rays declined to pick up Morton’s 2021 option, making him a free agent. The Texas Rangers are expected to the same with Kluber, per T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. And while both clubs have the desire of bringing each of their pitchers back at lower salaries, once they enter the open market, there are no guarantees.

Morton, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, “is believed to want to continue his career, so he’s now among the better free agent starters out there. Preferred last time to be on the East Coast.” That’s music to the Mets’ ears. The guy is fresh off pitching 20.0 innings of a 2.70 ERA in the postseason with the Rays. Although his regular season ERA was a tad high (4.74) he did have a 3.45 FIP and had a 3.05 regular season ERA in 2019. The guy, when healthy, is flat-out dominant, even at 36 years old.

Kluber has a 3.16 ERA in 1342.2 career frames. He is coming off a tore Teres muscle, but should be fully healthy by spring training. The Mets could really benefit from having him around.

Will Cohen, team president Sandy Alderson and the Mets consider them to their 2021 starting rotation? They should.

Should the New York Yankees pursue Corey Kluber?

This week, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reported that the Texas Rangers weren’t planning on picking up Corey Kluber’s $18 million club option. The team hasn’t made the move official yet, but that would mean the Klubot would be entering the free agent market if true. Could the New York Yankees be interested in the veteran right-hander?

Sullivan stated that “the plan is to not exercise his option and possibly re-sign him to a lesser deal.” While that is precisely what the Yankees may be planning to do with Brett Gardner, there is no guarantee that Kluber is going to want to return to Texas (as there is no guarantee that Gardy won’t look for a potentially larger role with another team.)

Texas is not expected to be a true contender next season, so Kluber may opt to sign with a better team. The New York Yankees are, by all intends and purposes, a stronger squad, and they have several holes in the rotation.

The Yankees need to replace some arms

The Yankees just lost James Paxton, J.A. Happ and Masahiro Tanaka to free agency. Right now, starting pitchers under contract are Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino (injured, expected to return in June or July but that’s far from a given) Domingo German (who served a long suspension) Jordan Montgomery and Deivi Garcia. Other prospects, such as Nick Nelson, Mike King and Clarke Schmidt, could push for starts in 2021, but that is, also, not a guarantee.

If the Yankees don’t re-sign some of their own free agents, they are going to need someone who can pitch at a high level and is a reliable option. While Kluber hasn’t been the model of health in the last two seasons (he missed most of 2019 with a right ulna fracture after being hit by a liner in the elbow; and a tear of right teres muscle took away his 2020) he is a career 3.16 ERA pitcher that, with a good spring training, could have something left in the tank.

With the Yankees, Kluber would be reunited with Matt Blake, as the two worked together in the Cleveland Indians for several years.

Should the Yankees make a run at Corey Kluber? Will the righty consider the Bombers? The offseason is very, very young, but it could be a flyer worth taking if the price (and, especially, the length of the commitment) is right.