Giants vs. Washington: 3 reasons why Giants fans should be excited!

New York Giants, Jabrill Peppers

The New York Giants will take on the Washington Football Team on Sunday afternoon. This will be the second and last time that both teams play each other this year. The G-Men came out of the first game with the close win over Washington, 20-19.

Giants fans, this is the game where the Big Blue gets back on track. After Washington, the Giants play the Philadelphia Eagles and the Cincinnati Bengals. If the Giants can flip those games into wins, they could find themselves in the playoffs.

First Reason: Giants’ Defense 

Over the last couple of weeks, this Giants’ defense is really coming into their own. Last week on Monday Night Football, they made Tom Brady and the entire Tampa Bay Buccaneers team play to the max. The Buccaneers ended winning a very close game, 25-23, with an arguably call at the end.

The reasoning why the game was so close wasn’t the offense and Daniel Jones, it was the defense. The defensive line was disrupting Tom Brady, the secondary with Jabrill Peppers, Logan Ryan, and James Bradberry are starting to look better and better each week, and Blake Martinez forced a big turnover early in the game that Giants offense was able to capitalize on.

Let’s not forget, Patrick Graham, Giants’ defensive coordinator, has been absolutely fantastic week in and week out. With the lack of cornerbacks, he was able to put Ryan Lewis at CB2 and made him look ‘playable’ to say the least. Safe to say, all Giants fans are very happy with Patrick Graham and this defense.

Second Reason: Offensive Line

If this offensive line has a big day today, Daniel Jones has a big day today! Last week on Monday Night Football, the New York Giants were forced to start rookie offensive guard Shane Lemieux for Will Hernandez, who was put on the COVID list last week. Lemieux did not play like a rookie guard, he played like a Pro Bowler against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Lemieux just play good, he made his other teammates look good too, Andrew Thomas and Nick Gates both played their best games of the season on Monday. Lemieux is exactly what the Giants need on the offensive line going forward.

On the other side of the offensive line, you saw Matt Peart come in for Cameron Fleming a bunch last week. When Peart has been in, he has been very good. The Giants hope to have found their new franchise offensive tackles in Thomas and Peart.

Third Reason: Joe Judge 

The New York Giants have missed on a few head coaches over the last few years, Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur. The Giants have found their new long-term head coach in Joe Judge, the team just plays differently when he is leading them.

During training camp, he took off jersey numbers and made his players run laps if they messed up. The Giants players had to ‘buy’ into Judge. The Giants did! You can see the difference when a team plays for their coach and when a team plays for themselves. That is what Judge brings to the table, and you will see the same thing this week against Washington.

 

 

NASCAR Championship 4 preview: Denny Hamlin

Hamlin’s NASCAR championship moment has yet to arrive. Set to enter a new world of team ownership, will it finally be delivered on Sunday?

Enough has been said and written about how the year 2020 has been tough. Sports have done their part to ease the blow while trying to play a role in the changes the year’s sense of reckoning has brought to us. The championships the respective seasons have offered to us have provided their share of inspiring moments, particularly in well-deserving veterans earning their first championships. Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos hoisted the Stanley Cup for the first time in the NHL’s Edmonton bubble. Los Angeles athletes old (Clayton Kershaw) and new (Anthony Davis) brought the World Series and NBA Finals’ prizes back to the west coast.

Denny Hamlin could well be the next belvoed veteran to hoist a long-sough championship trophy at the NASCAR Cup Series’ Season Finale 500 at Phoenix Raceway (3 p.m. ET, NBC).

Hamlin has been a Cup Series staple since 2005. Right from the get-go, it was clear that he was going to a force to be reckoned with on the premier circuit. A midseason replacement in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 11, Hamlin earned three top-ten finishes in his first six career races. In his first full-time season, he was the first rookie to qualify for the NASCAR Playoffs (then known as the Chase for the Nextel Cup) and came home third.

Since then, he and the No. 11 team have accomplished almost everything there is to accomplish on the Cup Series level. He owns three victories in the iconic Daytona 500, including the most recent pair, and has been a playoff driver in all but one of his full-time seasons (the exception being an injury-shortened campaign in 2013). He even dominated the virtual Cup circuit, winning two races in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series held during the COVID-19-induced pause.

All that’s missing is an elusive Cup Series championship. We on the east coast know all about superstars earning all but that final trophy hoist. Rangers fans recently had to bid farewell to Henrik Lundqvist with a Stanley Cup celebration. Patrick Ewing came up short in a 1994 NBA Finals visit (missing another five years later due to injury).

It’s cruelly ironic that it seems like the more that Hamlin has accomplished, the more questions he has had to field about the vacancy in his trophy case. 2020 has truly been one for the ages when it comes to Hamlin and his No. 11 Toyota team and missing out on this title would undoubredly sting. Seven races have ended with Hamlin in victory lane, second-best on the circuit to only Kevin Harvick’s nine. True to the “everything but a title” trope, Hamlin has come tantalizingly, deservedly close to a championship, only to be denied by misfortune or forces beyond his control. He won a season-best eight races and finished no worse than 12th over the first nine playoff races, but contact in the Homestead-Miami-based finale with Greg Biffle caused a spin that relegated him to a 14th-place finish. Jimmie Johnson went home in the runner-up spot, giving him enough points to overtake Hamlin for the title.

But Hamlin wants to make it clear: he believes that this 2020 season was a success no matter what happens on Sunday.

“It’s not whether you win this weekend or not,” Hamlin said earlier this week. “The championship is not necessarily an indicative measuring stick of your whole year. If you get to the final four, that is a measuring stick that you’ve had a successful year.”

“This is going to be a great weekend that we’re going to live with the result no matter what it is, and I just want to enjoy it and have fun with it.
It’s different, but we’ve adapted all year. It won’t hurt us to adapt for one more week.”

Hamlin further stressed that an appearance in the championship quartet is no cause for disappointment. This is the fourth time he has appeared in the group since elimination rounds were introduced to the postseason in 2014. That includes the two most recent editions, though Hamlin has been relegated to fourth each time.

“Certainly, I believe that there’s validity in saying that a Championship 4 appearance is a successful season. I know that it’s our goal for our 11 car when we put on the chalkboard of what we need to get done this year, it’s always make to it to the Final Four. It’s never win a championship. It used to be win a championship because you had to put all those other pieces of the puzzle together to win a championship because it was a 35, 36‑week body of work.”

“When you get to the Final Four, it means, okay, you’re in the top 16, you’ve made it through the rounds…It’s a very worthy four, but certainly, I think that our goal is always to make the Final Four. It’s never to actually win the championship.”

On the NASCAR circuit, Hamlin does have some strong company. Some have compared him to long-time racer Mark Martin, who came home in the Cup Series standings’ runner-up spot on five occasions. Hamlin moved passed Martin on the all-time Cup wins list with his 41st career Cup victory at Pocono Raceway back in June. In that same race, Hamlin joined Jeff Gordon as the only six-time winner in Long Pond.

True to this form of acceptance and determination, Hamlin sees any comparison to Martin, a NASCAR Hall of Famer, only as a compliment.

“I never would consider any comparison to Mark Martin an insult,” he said. “I’ll take those comparisons all day because the guy is a badass race car driver that nobody wanted to face week in and week ou. Nobody, not Dale Earnhardt, nobody wanted to face Mark Martin”

“I get it, (championships are) very, very important. It’s where I’m at the sport’s highest level, most people gauge your success level or how good you are off of championships, but I also know that my competitors will probably say that I’m one of the toughest competitors and toughest guys to beat and that’s all I really care about is having the respect of them and knowing that week in and week out I can go and compete for race wins, and knowing that over the last two years, ain’t nobody won any more. I like where I’m at.”

Hamlin is instead pleased to focus on team accomplishments that have put him back in the ranks of NASCAR’s elite. It starts at the top of the pit box under the oversight of crew chief Chris Gabehart, who previously oversaw victorious JGR efforts at the Xfinity level. Since he and Hamlin joined forces last season, the two have combined for 13 wins.

One of those races was the Phoenix event last season, when the track in the desert held the penultimate date on the Cup Series schedule. In dire need of a win…he was 20 points behind the points-based cutoff at the start of the afternoon…Hamlin would go on to lead all but four of the final 136 laps to earn a victory, beating out fellow Gibbs competitor Kyle Busch.

Things are a little different for Hamlin and the field, considering that there will be no qualifying or practice in the leadup to the Phoenix race. But the confidence his team has instilled in him has provided plenty of faith in what could go down as one of the biggest race of his career.

“I know that our team was capable of (last year’s Phoenix race),” Hamling said. “It was like, wow, they needed to bring it and they brought it, and I have no doubt that this weekend will be no different, that every effort will be put on us as there was last year when we had to lock ourselves in.”

“It’s a little different this year in the Final Four being that all the resources within JGR we’ve got working on our race car and focusing on our race car. Yeah, it’s encouraging for me to especially go to a track that we had to win last year and got it done to again this year having to win to get it done.”

No matter what happens on Sunday, it feels like the end of an era for Hamlin in the sense that the Phoenix race will be his final event solely as a driver. Next year, Hamlin begins an ambitious endeavor through the world of team ownership, uniting with NBA legend Michael Jordan to form a new team, 23XI Racing. Bubba Wallace will drive the team’s debut vehicle, a Toyota branded with Jordan’s famous No. 23.

Don’t let Hamlin’s satisfaction with a final four appearance fool you, though. He knows what a championship can do for his legacy, how it can firmly entrench him in NASCAR’s ultimate elite. With Harvick gone, Hamlin and his dominant season have a chance to win what’s perhaps the ultimate Cup Series title, one where chances for on-track adjustments are few and far between. The possibility just may be enough for Hamlin to go full-Last Dance Jordan…and take things personally.

“I’ve had so many failures that it’s created a logbook of things that I need to be aware of this time around. Certainly I believe that there’s something to being older and the mental side of things and having that advantage,” he said. “I just want to work hard and make sure that I’m as informed as I possibly can be, be prepared for anything that gets thrown my way, and as you get older, you learn to identify mistakes that you made in the past that you now need to account for when you are working towards being a champion.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

State of the UFC’s strawweight division

Last night at UFC Vegas 13, a new contender emerged in the strawweight division. Eighth ranked Yan Xiaonan defeated fourth ranked Claudia Gadelha. Xiaonan became just the third women in UFC history begin her career at 6-0 with the victory.

She did a fantastic job last night of showing off her beautiful striking from distance. While Gadelha was able to take her down in the first round and control her, Xiaonan bounced back in the final two rounds to really dominate the striking and win the decision.

As stated, it was the sixth straight UFC victory for the Chinese born strawweight. The UFC‘s China market has taken off over the last couple of years and a major contributor to that is the current strawweight champion, Weili Zhang.

You have to imagine that the promotion is already daydreaming about a potential matchup between Zhang and Xiaonan. That would easily be the biggest fight in the history of Chinese MMA. With last night’s victory, Xiaonan is perhaps only one more win away from securing that shot.

With the win, Xiaonan is expected to jump into the top five of the UFC‘s rankings while Gadelha will drop a little. The division is very exciting right now and it seems extremely fluid when it comes to the top contenders.

What’s the state of the UFC’s strawweight division?

Starting at the top, you have Zhang. Zhang has become a superstar for the promotion and was the first Chinese born UFC champion in history. This year, she had what many are considering to be the fight of the year against Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

It was an absolute war and Zhang walked away with the decision. The next fight for the UFC champion seems pretty obvious. Currently, the promotion is targeting a fight between her and former UFC champion, Rose Namajunas. That fight is expected to take place next year.

After those two, the division gets interesting. You have Jedrzejczyk ranked second, however, her next steps aren’t clear. She flirted with retirement, but recently said that she would be fighting again but wants to wait for fans to return before she comes back.

Another former UFC champion is ranked right behind her in Carla Esparza. Esparza is currently on a four fight winning streak that has her knocking on the door for another potential UFC title shot. After Esparza you’ll have Xiaonan, Nina Ansaroff and Michelle Waterson. Tatiana Suarez is also in there, but has been inactive due to injuries.

After last night, I believe that the UFC should look to book Xiaonan against either Jedrzejczyk or Esparza. Whoever they can book her with in early 2021, I try to make that happen. Perhaps on the same card as Zhang and Namajunas with the winners facing off in the summer.

Report: Yankees targeting two starting pitchers in free agency

New York Yankees, Charlie Morton

The New York Yankees are headed into an interesting off-season, but it seems as if their desire for big-name free agents has not suddenly disappeared despite a significant loss in revenue this past season due to COVID-19. Signing and trading the league’s best players is always at the top of the Yankees’ mind, and of course, star shortstop Francisco Lindor will be leading the hot stove rumor mill this year.

The Cleveland Indians are keen on trading Lindor away, but it won’t come at a low price, the Yankees will have to part with significant capital to add him to the ranks. In addition, Lindor is owed $19.5 million for the 2021 campaign, and then he is set to hit free agency, so the Yankees would have to sign and extend him if he’s willing to negotiate prior to next year.

At 28 years old, Lindor is still one of the best infielders in the MLB, and it would allow them to move Gleyber Torres back over to his preferred second base position.

However, the Yankees will also be engaged in the starting pitching market, as they are set to lose Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and JA Happ. They will save approximately $52 million by letting all three walk. Early reports have indicated that the Yankees are dabbling with former Rays’ pitcher Charlie Morton and Padres starter Garrett Richards.

Morton is a solid pitcher who I’ve spoken about frequently since the Yankees were knocked out of the postseason. He finished the most recent campaign with a 4.74 regular season ERA but gets away frequently with leaving base runners in scoring position. He tends to get himself into trouble a little bit more frequently than one might hope. He has a solid ground ball right at 43.6% and prefers his fastball, sinker, and curveball.

The Yankees could likely sign Morton for a friendly deal compared to Tanaka, who was making about $23 million last season. However, at nearly 37 years old, Charlie is certainly getting up there in age, and signing him to a short-term deal would be most beneficial.

Moving onto Richards, he is a bit younger than Morton at 32 years old. He finished last season with a 4.03 ERA and had a 76.5% left on-base percentage, per Fangraphs. Richards’s career ground ball rate is 51.6%, and has a 10.8% home run to flyball ratio. He tends to rely on his fastball, sinker, and slider primarily. Is fastball hovers in the 95 mph range, which is a solid number that has decreased steadily since 2016.

Richards earned $8.5 million in 2020, so he actually might be even cheaper than Morton. These are two pitchers to keep an eye on in the coming months, as the Yankees will likely be considering them to fill essential spots in the rotation.

Bellator: Who should get the next shot at Vadim Nemkov?

This past weekend at Bellator 251, Corey Anderson made his promotional debut against Melvin Manhoef. Anderson was a top ranked light heavyweight in the UFC before making the promotional jump. Many believe he can be champion inside of Bellator.

Anderson completely dominated the fight from the opening bell to the finish. Manhoef truly had no answer for Anderson’s superior wrestling. In the second round, Anderson got Manhoef to the ground and blitzed him with elbows leading to a TKO victory.

The performance was so impressive that many think he should be next for the Bellator light heavyweight champion, Vadim Nemkov. Nemkov just won the title back in August when he knocked out former champion, Ryan Bader, at Bellator 244.

Nemkov is unbeaten in his Bellator career at 5-0. He’s already taken out the likes of Liam McGeary, Phil Davis, and Rafael Carvalho. He is the cream of the crop when it comes to Bellator’s light heavyweight division.

A matchup between Nemkov and Anderson would be something fresh for the promotion’s light heavyweight division. However, there’s a familiar opponent for Nemkov that might be in front of Corey Anderson for a title shot.

What should Bellator do?

The fighter that I’m referring to is former Bellator light heavyweight champion, Phil Davis. Since making the jump to Bellator in 2015, Davis has only lost two fights. He lost to Ryan Bader and he lost a split decision to the current champion.

Other than that, it’s been smooth sailing for Davis. Davis is coming off of a split decision victory over Lyoto Machida back in September. While the performance wasn’t sensational, it was still the third straight victory for Davis since his loss to Nemkov.

Bellator is in a very interesting position. Anderson’s dominant performance put the division on notice. A fight between Nemkov and Anderson would be something new for the division. However, can they ignore the longevity of Davis’ run in Bellator?

If I had to guess, I think that the promotion will lean towards giving the fight to Davis with Anderson fighting the winner. I could be wrong, but Anderson’s post-fight interview may have told us the future. He called out both Nemkov and Davis in his interview.

New York Giants: 3 players to watch against Washington in week 9

New York Giants, Shane Lemeiux

While the New York Giants lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week eight, they displayed a level of quality and grit that we hadn’t seen through the first seven weeks of the season.

However, there were some tumultuous performances and others that were stellar, but overall, competing against a team as good as Tampa should directly translate over to a far lesser opponent in the Washington Football Team. Theoretically, the Giants should walk over Washington this week, but it will take solid performances from their best players, which wasn’t the case last week, especially for quarterback Daniel Jones.

Three New York Giants players to watch against Washington in week 9:

1.) Shane LeMieux

The rise of Shane LeMieux has been fun to watch, despite his sample size being just one game. PFF graded him extremely poorly, giving him a 34.1 overall grade and 12.1 in pass blocking. After looking at his tape, his performance wasn’t nearly as bad as indicated, but he will be trying to build off a progressive rookie debut.

LeMieux brings a mean streak to his game, and he loves to get into the mix and hit people in the trenches. He’s a force in the running game but needs to work a bit on his pass protection technique and mirroring. He was hit with five pressures and four hurries but didn’t allow a sack against Tampa.

Washington represents a far worse defense, but their defensive line is one of the best in the NFL, so they represent another significant challenge for Lemieux.

New York Yankees News: Goodbye Trenton Thunder, hello Somerset Patriots (video)

The New York Yankees have made Trenton Thunder owner very unhappy while at the same time making the owner of the Somerset Patriots to say, “it’s is like a dream come true. The Yankees announced yesterday that after 18 years, they are moving their double-A affiliate to Bridgewater, New Jersey. In the video below, Yankee’s great Sparky Lyle introduces Yankees fans to the Somerset Patriots.

There are winners and losers in this move. Trenton Thunder’s owner says the Yankees have betrayed him. Joseph Plumeri, owner of the Thunder, is fuming.

“Despite repeated assurances that the Thunder would remain its Double A affiliate over the last 16 months, the Yankees betrayed their partnership at the 11th hour,” Plumeri said in a statement. “By doing so the Yankees have misled and abandoned the Thunder and the taxpayers of Mercer County, who have invested millions of dollars over the years to ensure that Arm & Hammer Park remains one of the premier ballparks in America.”

Several miles away in Bridgewater, New Jersey Patriots owner Steve Kalafer called the news of the move “a dream come true.”

“The first baseball game my father took me to was at Yankee Stadium and I continued the tradition, taking our sons Jonathan and Josh to their first games there as well. Our love for baseball and the New York Yankees came from those special days and has remained with us throughout our lives,” Kalafer, who retains the title of chairman emeritus, said in a written statement Saturday. “I’ve always looked at the Yankees as the gold standard in baseball and sports as a whole. It is how we’ve modeled the way we’ve conducted our business at the Somerset Patriots since day one.”

The moves were caused by MLB when they set out a plan to realign the minor league system to improve it and contract it from 160 teams to 120 teams.  In addition to Trenton’s move to Somerset, the Yankees will also leave Staten Island and Charleston. The Staten Island Yankees and the Charleston River Dogs will become the Hudson Valley Renegades in Wappinger Falls, New York.
The New York Yankees defended the move from Trenton to Bridgewater, claiming the move was decided upon by the better facilities at TD Park.
“We thank the great city of Trenton and the Thunder owners for 18 years of collaboration and we wish them well,” the Yankees said in a statement. “But this decision was made strictly on the basis of what we believe to be the best facility to develop our young players.”

 

 

 

 

New York Yankees News/Rumors: Aaron Judge on 2021, Gardner’s chances, and a Blockbuster trade

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

New York Yankees Aaron Judge on the 2021 season and his future

New York Yankees’ slugger Aaron Judge has recently talked about the 2021 season and his future, and it was all positive. Judge has had a rough time in the last few years with injuries. He hasn’t played close to a full season of ball since his breakout year in 2017. That year he played in 155 games, earned an amazing 52 home runs and was named Rookie of the Year, was an All-Star, earned a Silver Slugger Award, and finished second in the MVP voting.

Actually, he might have been the MVP if Jose Altuve, who won the award and his Houston Astros, hadn’t cheated during the season.

Unfortunately for the budding star, his baseball life has been pretty dull since then. In 2018 he played in only 112 games, 102 games in 2019, and played in fewer than half of the games this past shortened season.  All of his time off the field has been due to injuries of all types, some unavoidable like the chip off the wrist that caused him to miss three weeks of playing time. At the end of the 2019 season, he fractured a rib. During the 2020 season, he would miss some significant time after suffering an oblique strain running to first base on a base hit.

But even considering his history, Judge is positive about the upcoming season.

“I’m finally going to have a good offseason; no injuries going into the end of the year,” Judge said. “That’s one thing that always makes it tough; when the playoffs come around, if you’ve got injuries, you put those aside and just play through it. So this year, having nothing going into the end of the year has been great. I’ll have a good offseason, stay healthy and play a full year — not only next year, but for many years to come. I’m looking forward to that.”

Judge expressed optimism that the Yankees would pick up a couple of players this offseason and strengthen the pitching situation. He also said that he sees a lot of promise in the Yankees’ up-and-coming crop of talent. He referenced all the players that were brought up to the Stadium in this shortened season.

“That was a crazy thing about 2020, is we got a chance to call on some rookies that normally might not have been called up, might not have made it to the big leagues,” Judge said. “With the guys we’ve got in our farm system … the next couple of years, we’re going to be doing something special in New York.”

Gardner’s chance of return is better than you might think

With all the decisions the New York Yankees have to make to fix the pitching rotation and infield problem, it’s hard to believe the Yankee brass concentrates their efforts on holding on to fan-favorite Brett Gardner. But in this cash strapped season, when the dust settles, and the Yankees work their magic and are happy with the pitching rotation, they will address the Brett Gardner situation. After the World Series, they made the quick decision not to take up his option at $10M for the 2021 season.

As it stands now, the Yankees will buy him out by exercising the buy-out clause in his contract, which will pay him $2.5 million to go back to his farm in the Carolinas. But don’t think for one minute, that is the end of the story. The New York Yankees know that Gardner has value to them. Yes, he is 37 years old but is still one of the elite defensive players in baseball. The Yankees are also aware that Giancarlo Stanton is pretty well shot in the outfield. They also know of the Aarons, Hicks, and Judge’s injury history. If either of them gets injured, Gardner is the answer. He can play left and centerfield more than adequately.

If this article were written on September 1, I would have said that is no way that the Yankees would bring Gardner back, even though he had a career year in 2019. After all, he was hitting .165 with a .293 on-base percentage, a .299 slugging percentage, and a .590 OPS on Sept. 9. It surely looked like Gardner was finally done. But, Gardner proved them wrong by batting .394 (13-for-33) with a .540 on-base percentage, a .667 slugging percentage, and a 1.190 OPS in the last 13 games of the season. He continued his excellent play throughout the postseason.

We also don’t know what effect the short season had on Gardner or any other player for that matter. If he played lousy for the first 47 games of the season and played really well for the last 115 games of the season, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation, and the Yankees would have exercised his option. Don’t count out another “Gardy party.” Like they did last year, the Yankees will most likely wait until late, but there is a very good chance Brett Gardner will be back in pinstripes again next season.

Outside the box, a blockbuster trade suggestion

Joel Sherman of the New York Post is a well respected New York Yankees reporter and baseball thinker. He is not afraid to go outside the box when looking at trade possibilities. The following is directly from his Twitter account:

Stanton and prospects to the Cubs for Yu Darvish, Jason Heyward, and Craig Kimbrel.

This one definitely blows up the Yankees’ 2021 luxury tax — but again, it is a short-term pain for long-term gain. How much do the Cubs want to lower payroll in 2021 and 2022? There is a sense in the game: a lot. That would be the Cubs’ motivation here. This trade would save Chicago $40 million in 2021, $23 million in 2022, plus $18 million in 2023. Plus, their underwhelming farm system could pick up a piece or two additionally as a reward for taking on Stanton from 2024-27.

What Sherman seems to ignore is that there is a major stumbling block to this trade besides the money hurt. Giancarlo Stanton has a no-trade clause in his Yankee contract. Stanton would have to approve the trade, and that is not likely as he just exercised his option to stay at Yankee Stadium through 2027. Stanton has not signalled any interest in going anywhere.

The deal is attractive though Darvish would jump in as the Yankees’ No. 2 starter behind Gerrit Cole. Heyward is Brett Gardner-esque: a strong corner defender and lefty bat who actually had a .936 OPS vs. righties last season. Kimbrel has been bad the last two years, but in September, he threw 7 1/3 scoreless innings with no walks and 13 strikeouts. None of these contracts goes beyond 2023. The only reason the Yankees would even consider such a trade would be to acquire Yu Darvish and unload the money owed to Giancarlo Stanton. Chances of this trade happening..zero.

Yankees torched by Trenton Thunder owner after minor league shakeup

New York Yankees, Yankees, Brian Cashman

“Mislead” was the word Trenton Thunder owner Joseph Plumeri used when deciphering the Yankees‘ decision to transition their affiliate minor league teams to Somerset and Hudson Valley.

This move was a big surprise, as the Yankees are heading toward the hot stove months and have free agency plans in place. Since the Bombers will shift their affiliate programs, Trenton is now left dead in the water, as they could theoretically join another major-league team. They could also join the independent Atlantic League, but this surprise undoubtedly was not received well by Trenton‘s owner.

“Despite repeated assurances that the Thunder would remain its Double A affiliate over the last 16 months, the Yankees betrayed their partnership at the 11th hour,” Plumeri said in a statement. “By doing so the Yankees have misled and abandoned the Thunder and the taxpayers of Mercer County, who have invested millions of dollars over the years to ensure that Arm & Hammer Park remains one of the premier ballparks in America.”

These are strong words by Plumeri, but one that makes sense and are justified if his statements are true. The Yankees lost a significant amount of revenue due to COVID-19, so this could’ve been a financially driven move, but it still isn’t right to back out of a deal in the final moments.

“Restructuring our minor affiliations — especially with the additions of Somerset and Hudson Valley — gives us greater continuity to streamline and improve the development of our minor league system,” general manager Brian Cashman said in a statement. “The relationships we have formed with all of our teams will allow for a more consistent application of training with similarly aligned facilities in terms of structure, quality and ease of travel. We are confident that these changes will greatly benefit our players and Yankees fans for many years to come.”

The proximity between Yankee Stadium and the new affiliates will be far closer, making the strain of travel simpler in the future. In addition, it seems as though the Yankees wanted more control of their development and the structural progressions regarding the quality of equipment and services.

The major factor behind this comes down to money, as the Yankees likely see Somerset as a more profitable location, where more money can flow, and the business can do even better. Of course, this significantly damages Trenton in the process.

New York Giants: 3 keys to beating the Washington Football Team in week 9

New York Giants

The New York Giants are headed into another NFC East battle against Washington in week 9, a game they must win if they want to keep their divisional hopes alive.

At 1-7, the Giants are journeying toward irrelevancy quickly, but the team still hasn’t given up even after losing two heartbreaking games back to back against the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Head Coach Joe Judge has his team committed and disciplined, proving that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to maintain a positive culture in the locker room this week, forcing consequences on veteran wide receiver Golden Tate.

Against Tampa, Tate yelled, “throw me the damn ball” on national television, and Judge found it necessary to discipline him for his actions.

However, the Giants proved they could compete against some of the best teams in the NFL, and Washington does not represent anywhere close to that. On paper, the Giants should overcome Washington easily, but they have a stellar defensive front, and the Giants’ offensive line has performed poorly this season.

New York Giants’ three keys to beating the Washington Football Team in week 9:

1.) Win the turnover differential

The Giants have failed to win the turnover differential in most of their contest this season, as Daniel Jones threw two interceptions against Tampa Bay. This category is essential, and turning the corner toward victory means cutting back on the turnovers and keeping the ball safe.

After reviewing plenty of film on Daniel Jones, it is apparent that he tends to make tumultuous decisions when rolling out to his right. He tends to break the pocket too early, which is subconsciously built into him after years of poor OL play. However, if he can stick in the pocket and throw accurately, he is as deadly as any quarterback downfield.

Against Tampa, the offensive line played their best game of the season, with predominantly rookies featuring. This was a positive sign, and the Giants will look to build off that performance, especially at left tackle with Andrew Thomas. Giving Jones time in the pocket and making solid throws results in low turnover probabilities — that will help the Giants extract a win in this contest.

2.) Daniel Jones must hit on the deep-ball

Last week, Daniel Jones showed an inept ability to throw the deep ball. He had several throws to Darius Slayton, and one to Sterling Shepard sail too deep or out of bounds.

Jones has a far better completion percentage when throwing toward the middle of the field; it has been noted that his ability to throw toward the sideline is questionable. He threw two balls out of bounds when Slayton was completely open, missing him on multiple reads later on in the contest.

Washington has a good secondary, allowing the least amount of passing yards in the NFL at 185.9. The Giants will likely come out running the football and hope their OL can hold up, but I fully expect Jones to take some shots downfield to Slayton and Shep. If he can hit on those downfield balls, the Giants should win this game easily.

3.) The defense must get off the field on 3rd down

Currently, the Giants’ defense allows a 58.57% success rate on third downs to opposing offenses. Washington’s offense has had struggles this year, averaging 23.6 points per game, which is enough to beat a Giants unit that hovers in the same realm. The major deficiency for Big Blue’s defense has been getting off the field on third down, but they have gotten better in recent weeks.

Against Tampa, the New York Giants allowed four third-down conversions on 12 attempts. That is a decent step forward compared to their average this year.

They must find a way to scheme pressure against Kyle Allen, Washington’s quarterback. Without Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines, the Giants have had issues finding ways to collapse the pocket, heavily relying on their interior defensive pass rush. I expect to see a lot of Leonard Williams in this contest, pushing the interior and recording another sack to his tally.