Yankees’ Gio Urshela projected to miss 3 months after surprise surgery

New York Yankees, Gio Urshela

New York Yankees third baseman Gio Urshela underwent a surprise surgery on Friday. After being bothered by his throwing arm during the 2020 season, he was placed on the 10-day injured list with a bone spur in his right elbow. He spent from Sept. 4 to Sept. 15 on the list, missing 11 games.

Urshela was expected to escape surgery following the 2020 season, but after enduring a setback with his elbow, the team and player elected that removing the chipped bone would be more efficient.

Per the New York Yankees:

INF Gio Urshela underwent surgery today to remove a bone chip from his right elbow. The procedure was performed by Yankees Head Team Physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and went as expected. Urshela’s anticipated recovery time from surgery is three months.

Urshela has been a godsend for the Bombers:

After Miguel Andujar tore his labrum at the beginning of the 2019 season, the Yankees immediately turned to Urshela to fill the void. He finished the season with a .314 batting average, 21 homers, and 74 RBIs. Interestingly, he is best known for his defense and not his offense, which he has routinely shown the past two seasons. However, his defense has been stellar, recording a .954 fielding percentage and 13 errors in 978.1 innings.

This past year, Urshela played in 43 of 60 games, hitting .298 with a career-high 10.3% walk rate, six homers, and 30 RBIs. This was the second time in five years he recorded a positive WAR.

With the surgery, the expectation is that Urshela will miss the next three months, meaning he would return toward the end of spring training. He will likely be available for Opening Day but might need a few extra reps before taking his usual spot on the hot corner.

New York Giants: Joe Judge underrated compared to other rookie coaches?

New York Giants, Joe Judge

The New York Giants brought on Joe Judge as their head coach this season, and have seen immediate improvements. For the first time in a number of years, the Giants are actually a competitive team in December and still have a chance to make the playoffs. It’s easy to take that for granted, but it hasn’t been the case recently – and under Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur, much of the discussion around this time of year has been about whether or not the Giants should clean house.

Those talks have receded this time, and it’s not just because Judge is a rookie head coach that’s still in his grace period. While there have been some problems this year, and while the Giants were forced to switch up their strategies after Saquon Barkley was taken out for the season, the team has ultimately played well enough that they could very well win the NFC East this year.

But is Judge getting enough credit for that?

Comparing Joe Judge to other coaches

Well, the Giants and Judge have gotten a decent amount of coverage from the media during this first season in Judge’s tenure, and Judge was one of the coaches listed in a recent Bleacher Report list on the top rookie coaches in the league.

It’s easy to argue, though, that Judge isn’t getting enough credit.

He was given a B grade, with both Kevin Stefanski and Ron Rivera being given higher grades. With the Browns having an 8-3 season so far, the A rating for Stefanski is understandable. But you have to question Judge being given a B while Rivera was given a B+, considering how the Giants have beaten Washington twice this year and hold the first place spot in the NFC East.

Furthermore, it looks like New York is a more stable team with Daniel Jones firmly in place as the starting quarterback and and a good setup emerging this season in the secondary. Judge’s pick for coordinator this season, Patrick Graham, has also immediately raised the level of the Giants defense and it looks like Graham may even be in contention for head coaching jobs next year.

Washington’s defense may be better, but considering the bad circumstances that Judge took over the Giants under, and the quick turnaround compared to two less successful predecessors, there’s a strong case to make that Judge has done the more impressive job so far.

But there’s still time left in the season, and to fully clear up the question, we might need to wait and see just which team makes it into the playoffs out of the NFC East.

BREAKING: The UFC and Yoel Romero have parted ways

One of the more prominent fighters in the UFC‘s middleweight division is no longer with the promotion. In a stunning report by ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, Yoel Romero is no longer a member of the UFC. His manager confirmed the news with Helwani.

This is a very stunning development that really came out of no where. Romero was scheduled for a UFC fight back in August against Uriah Hall. Romero had to pull out of the fight and the UFC pivoted to book Hall against Anderson Silva.

Since then, things have been very quiet on the Yoel Romero front. There had been no talk about the UFC getting him his next opponent. Many just assumed that Romero was taking his time. However, we now know that there might be more to the story.

There is still no word on why Romero and the UFC have parted ways. Helwani also reported that Romero had three fights left on his contract. As I’m writing this story, I’m still a little stunned by the news that Romero is no longer with the promotion.

Romero’s UFC legacy

With the news that Yoel Romero is no longer with the UFC, it’s time to reflect on his run inside the octagon. The promotion’s acquisition of Strikeforce brought Romero to the big stage. The Olympic Silver medalist was an instance force in the middleweight division.

He made his UFC debut back in April of 2013 where he won by a flying knee. Romero would go on to win his first eight fights before getting a shot against Robert Whittaker for the interim middleweight title.

Whittaker edged out Romero that night. Romero then bounced back to knock out Luke Rockhold with a devastating left hand. After that, Romero fought Whittaker again for the UFC middleweight title.

To this day, I believe that Romero won that fight. However, the judges gave a split decision to Whittaker. Following that matchup, Romero lost a very entertaining fight against Paulo Costa before fighting Israel Adesanya for the UFC middleweight title.

The fight failed to live up to expectations and Romero lost to Adesanya. In the end, Romero will finish his UFC career 1-4 in his last five contest. However, it was a fun ride while it lasted.

BREAKING: New York Liberty win No. 1 draft pick for 2021

For the second straight year, the New York Liberty will choose first in the WNBA’s draft proceedings, set to be held next spring.

The New York Liberty hit the jackpot at the WNBA Draft Lottery for the second consecutive season, earning the top overall pick for a selection process set to be staged next spring.

New York cashed in on their top odds (44.2 percent), coming out on top of the four-team sweepstakes amongst the non-playoff participants. The Dallas Wings will choose second, while the Atlanta Dream and Indiana Fever round out the top quartet. Last season, the Liberty chose Oregon recordbreaker Sabrina Ionescu with the topic pick. She was limited to three games due to an ankle injury, but managed to briefly impress, scoring 33 points in her second career game.

The lottery was held during halftime of the nationally televised matchup between No. 5 Louisville and No. 20 DePaul. Louisville, which has three representatives on the Liberty roster (Asia Durr, Jazmine Jones, and Kylee Shook), took control in a 116-75 victory in a game held at Mohegan Sun Arena.

General manager Jonathan Kolb represented the team for the second straight season. Upon earning the top overall pick, Kolb said the first thing he envisioned was “Sabrina jumping up and down on her healed ankle”.

“I was trying to contain my own excitement,” Kolb said with a smile in a Zoom press conference call after the reveal. “I was mostly happy for the fans, the fans that have been ride or die with this team since 1997 deserve this. They deserved it last year. I think if you really look at the trajectory of this franchise, where it’s going from an ownership, front office, coaching standpoint, now player acquisition standpoint. This is exciting, it’s an exciting time to be a fan.”

Inside the WNBA’s Bradenton bubble, the Liberty finished a league-worst 2-20 sans Ionescu for a majority of the year, but enjoyed contributions from several rookies. Jazmine Jones, the final pick of last season’s first round, was named to the league’s All-Rookie team while filling in for Ionescu at point guard. Seven rookies partook in at least one game for the Liberty, a situation brought upon by several regular players (including Rebecca Allen, Marine Johannes, Han Xu, and 2019 second overall pick Asia Durr) opt-out of the proceedings. Several players have moved on overseas, where they’re competing in foreign leagues.

Kolb remained in a celebratory mood, but he expressed hope that draft lottery night would not be the only be the only time that the Liberty would be in the headlines far more often.

“We have an exciting opportunity for a hybrid rebuild…we can be super competitive while bringing the Liberty down the road for the future,” Kolb said. “In free agency, we’re going to be really aggressive…I don’t think tonight is the only night we’re going to be in the news over the next few months.”

The date for the 2021 draft has yet to be determined.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: Alex Lewis among Sunday absentees for NFI injury

The New York Jets’ veteran blocker will not partake in Sunday’s game against Las Vegas after being placed on the non-football injury list.

The New York Jets have placed offensive lineman Alex Lewis on their reserve/non-football injury list.

Head coach Adam Gase announced on Friday that Lewis would not partake in Sunday’s home game against the Las Vegas Raiders (1 p.m. ET, CBS). According to notes from the Jets, Gase said that Lewis’ departure was “an organizational decision”. He would also insist that Lewis’ departure was not disciplinary and that he has continued to attend positional meetings.

“He’ll be out for the game,” Gase said. “He’s been in meetings…As soon as we have a resolution to this, then we can talk more about it.”

With his placement on the NFI list, Lewis will miss at least the next three games, eligible to return for the Jets’ penultimate game of the season on December 27 against the Cleveland Browns.

ESPN’s Rich Cimini shed some light on Lewis’ situation, mentioning that he is seeking help for an “off-the-field issue”. The Jets will continue to pay him during this process.

Lewis, 28, is in the midst of his second season with the Jets, having come over in a late-summer trade with the Baltimore Ravens during the 2019 offseason. Pro Football Focus has Lewis consistently ranked as the second-best lineman among qualifiers behind only Mekhi Becton. Lewis signed a three-year contract extension during the offseason but could be a salary cap casualty with the Jets poised to save just over $5.3 million if he is released.

It’s possible that relative newcomer Pat Elfein could take over for Lewis in his spot on the offensive line’s interior. Elfein took over for Lewis last week against Miami and previously made 43 starts over three-plus seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. He appeared in Minnesota’s Week 1 loss to the Green Bay Packers, but was sidelined with a thumb injury that led to a stint on injured reserve. The Jets signed him shortly after Minnesota released him upon activation from IR. Elfein was limited in Friday’s practice with a shoulder ailment.

Despite the loss of Lewis, the Jets (0-11) will be getting some of their blocking depth back, as Gase said that he expects to have both George Fant and Chuma Edoga back from ankle issues after each missed last week’s loss to Miami in East Rutherford. Fant was limited on Friday, but while Edoga was a full participant every day this week.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants: All aboard the Wayne Train

New York Giants, Wayne Gallman

The New York Giants are 4-7, sitting atop the lowly NFC East and firmly in the playoff picture. The Giants’ defense has been the true strength of this team. Patrick Graham’s defense has been phenomenal all season long and has kept the Giants in games and even won them games this season.

But the Giants’ offense has improved drastically in recent weeks. After looking like a futile group in the first few weeks of the 2020 NFL season, Jason Garrett’s offense has really turned things around. The key to the offense’s improvement: an efficient running game.

Many presumed the Giants’ offense to be dead after losing Saquon Barkley in the second week of the 2020 NFL season. But, in actuality, the terrible loss of Saquon Barkley has opened things up for the emergence of Wayne Gallman. Gallman was drafted by the Giants in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He struggled to win meaningful reps in the first three seasons of his career. But, in 2020, with Saquon Barkley placed on injured reserve, Wayne Gallman has taken full advantage of his opportunity to flourish.

All Aboard the Wayne Train

Wayne Gallman has provided the Giants’ offense with the exact thing it was missing: efficiency. Gallman might not be the big, home-run hitter that other running backs may be. But Gallman is a strong, patient, and efficient runner that has been very productive as a starter this season.

The Wayne Train has been running at full steam over the past five games. Wayne Gallman has reached the end zone in five consecutive games, the longest streak by a Giants player since Saquon Barkley scored touchdowns in five consecutive games from Sept. 23-Oct. 22, 2018. He is the first Giants player to rush for a touchdown in five consecutive games since Andre Brown had a streak of six straight games in 2012-13 (Giants.com).

Gallman is coming off of a career-day versus Cincinnati in Week 12. Wayne ran for a career-high 94 rushing yards on Sunday on 24 rushing attempts. He also added one rushing touchdown. This is the highest volume of single-game rushing attempts that Gallman has received in his young career and he took full advantage of it.

Wayne Gallman is averaging an impressive 4.0 yards per attempt this season. The Wayne Train has totaled 6 rushing touchdowns this season. Gallman has started each of the last four games for New York and has worked well as the lead back in the Giants’ running back by committee approach with Alfred Morris and Dion Lewis.

Gallman and the Giants’ offense have a tough matchup ahead of them, traveling to Seattle for an afternoon matchup with the Seahawks on Sunday. The Seahawks have a historically bad pass defense. But, their run defense has been one of the best in the NFL this year. Seattle is allowing only 89.3 rushing yards per game this season, the third-lowest average of any team in the league. New York needs more efficient and productive running out of the Wayne Train this week in order to come out of Seattle with an underdog victory.

New York Knicks: Robinson welcomes competition from Noel

Third-year center Mitchell Robinson should be in line to become the New York Knicks’ starting center.

But not so fast.

Free-agent pickup Nerlens Noel is expected to give him a run for his money in the training camp as new Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau weighs in on who should get the starting gig.

Robinson welcomes the competition.

“I feel like he [Noel] wants to start. I want to start. So we can go at each other and that’s a natural thing. Nobody really talked to us about that stuff [on who will start]. We just know we’ll go at each other,” Robinson said during his zoom call with reporters on Friday.

Room for growth

Thibodeau, Robinson’s third coach in three years, has hinted earlier that Robinson isn’t locked to be the starter.

“I think [Robinson] has had some really good moments, but I think he’s got a long way to go, Thibodeau said.

“The work part, the professionalism to continue to grow to impact winning, there’s a lot of room for growth. I don’t know where he’ll end up. There are things he can do that are very unique. I think we’re very fortunate to have Nerlens Noel. In some ways, he’s very similar when you look at rim protection. We’re excited about both guys,” he added.

Robinson has skipped the second part of the Knicks’ OTA last September due to personal reasons. But the young center reportedly worked out with Knicks’ assistant coach Mike Woodson who flew to New Orleans after the team’s OTA.

Robinson said everything is well between him and Thibodeau, and the communication lines have always been open.

“We’ve been alright. He just gave me his expectations. The best way I can learn is to talk to him. You know, talk to him every day like I normally would and keep moving forward,” Robinson said.

Sibling rivalry

Noel, who plays a lot like Mitchell, is coming in on a bargain one-year, $5-million deal. He’s basically playing for his next contract.

“I’m coming in with a competitive mindset to help this team win,’’ Noel said. “I know my attributes and what I bring to the table. It’s a young team. I want to give everything I can. Mitchell is a young player I’ve been watching the last couple of years. His development kind of resembles mine — his playing style above the rim, blocking shots.”

“I just want to mentor him any way possible. Whatever position we play throughout the season will play itself out. I want to be a big brother to him and give him a lot of advice throughout the season. We’re both competitors.”

Noel is coming off his first playoffs experience in the NBA since he was drafted sixth overall in 2013.

As Steven Adams’ backup in Oklahoma City Thunder, Noel put up a solid line of 7.4 points on 68.4 percent shooting, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks last season.

On the other hand, Robinson is coming off a historic season in which he broke Wilt Chamberlains’ single-season record for field goal percentage with 74.2 percent. He believes he will benefit from Noel’s arrival.

“I feel like it’s great for me and great for our team. It’s better for me to have a taller guy that I can practice with, who can go at me a little bit better than we did last year. I feel like we’ll help each other out,” said the 7-foot Robinson.

Last season, Taj Gibson, a 6-foot-9 veteran, won the starting gig over Robinson, who still put up a respectable stats line of 9.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks.

Contract extension year

Robinson has only started 26 games over his first two seasons in the league, with foul trouble limiting his playing time. But entering his third season, the Louisiana native expects a big year, especially with his contract extension coming up.

“Year three, it’s gonna be amazing! I feel like I’m gonna be a better me. I’ll come work extra hard and help my teammates,” Robinson said.

The long break gave Robinson more time to fine-tune his shooting with several videos of him hoisting up from beyond the arc circulating online.

“I worked on my jump shot. I did a lot of running, getting my shots up, working on my game,” Robinson said. “It’s my year three so I’m trying to add more stuff to my game, help our team win, be more of a threat on the offensive side.”

“Me coming out shooting threes isn’t the only thing I want to do but it helps us out.”

But more than his improved offensive game, what will keep Robinson in the game and his ticket to a starting gig is his bread and butter, which is defense. He’s excited to learn more under Thibodeau.

“That’s one of my strengths — defense. For him [Thibodeau] coming over here, it helps me a lot, help our guys out. He will make us a better defensive team. It’s gonna be amazing,” Robinson said.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

One Championship announces Demetrious Johnson – Adriano Moraes

One of the greatest of all time will get his chance to capture his second world title in February. One Championship announced today that Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson (30-3-1) will be taking on flyweight champion, Adriano Moraes (18-3) on February 24th.

It will be the first time since October of 2019 that Johnson has fought in One Championship. Mighty Mouse was the long-reigning flyweight champion of the UFC. He was so dominant that many lost interest in the division.

The UFC was considering closing down the division and didn’t really want to pay Johnson his championship wages. Back in 2018, after six years as champion, Johnson lost to Henry Cejudo.

After the fight was over, the UFC didn’t move to book a rematch. Instead, they worked out a historic trade deal with One Championship. In the first of it’s kind, the deal sent Johnson over to one and the UFC received Ben Askren in return.

Askren was an undefeated welterweight at the time who many considered to be one of the best. The deal gave Mighty Mouse a chance to get a fresh start in One Championship.

He made his debut with One Championship back in March of 2019. He competed in the flyweight tournament and won the tournament against Danny Kingad in October. Now, he’ll get the chance to capture the One Championship flyweight belt.

One Championship – February 24th

Standing in the way of Mighty Mouse will be the champion, Adriano Moraes. Moraes has been with One Championship since 2013. In his career, he’s only lost three times and all three of those losses were by split decision.

He’s already avenged two of those three losses in One Championship. While good everywhere, Moraes is especially good on the ground and he can give Mighty Mouse some problems when the two of them face off.

He’s tall and long for the division and will enjoy a five inch height advantage when the two square off in February. This is a fantastic matchup for One Championship in February.

While he never got the recognition he earned in the UFC, Mighty Mouse is still one of the best to ever do it. His dominance created a lack of parody which created limited interest. However, you still have to recognize how good he is. I can’t wait to sit down for this one in February.

Staten Island Yankees suing the New York Yankees

New York Yankees

According to a press release, the Staten Island Yankees are suing the New York Yankees and Major League Baseball for “false promises”. This comes after the Yankees restructured their minor league system and eliminated the SI Yankees from their affiliation.

“Accordingly, with great regret, we must cease operations. Earlier today we filed a lawsuit against the New York Yankees and Major League Baseball to hold those entities accountable for false promises. A portion of any settlement or jury verdict will go to the Staten Island Yankees Foundation to be distributed to local Staten Island charities like the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation and Person Centered Care Services. All outstanding ticket purchases will be fully refunded upon request”

With the new minor league structure, it eliminates Class-A Short Season ball as a whole, the class that the SI Yankees were in. The SI Yankees figured New York would reclassify them, however, the Yankees felt it would be best to end their affiliation with Staten Island.

Beginning in 2021, the Somerset Patriots will be the Yankees new AA affiliate. The Trenton Thunder have been the Yankees AA affiliate since 2003, but they will be shifting to a MLB Draft League team.

One of the other changes includes the Tampa Tarpons moving down from Class-A Advanced to Class-A. Filling their spot as the Class-A Advanced affiliate will be the Hudson Valley Renegades. The Renegades are located in Wappingers Falls, New York, just an hour north of New York City.

Many teams are still finalizing their 2021 affiliates, but the changes made by the New York Yankees give baseball fans an idea on how some leagues may be structured.

The entire press release from the SI Yankees is below:

New York Giants: Week 12 stock report, ups and downs

New York Giants, Dalvin Tomlinson

The New York Giants survived a week 12 scare to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals 19-17.

It was an ugly win for New York as after the first drive, they could not get anything going on the offensive side of the ball. Nevertheless, Big Blue was able to get a key victory, their third in a row, placing them at 4-7 and first in the NFC East.

Here’s how this win affected the stock of various aspects in the Giants organization.

Stock up

Offensive Line

While the competition was inferior, the offensive line looked at its best in week 12.

This is amazing to see for the Giants as they had recently fired their offensive line coach Marc Colombo drawing many concerns to how the offensive line would fair. These worries were quickly squashed as the hog-mollies up front played their best game of the season in Cincinnati. The offensive line allowed only three pressures and two QB hits all game. The line also did not allow a sack in the match for the first time this year. In terms of the run game, the line was also stout as they helped Giants rushers rush for a total of 142 yards.

Logan Ryan, S

Logan Ryan proved why he was a top of safety pro bowl votes in the NFC on Sunday.

Ryan was a monster all over the field in the game. He recorded 6 tackles, two-run stops, one forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. The safety also defended a pass showing his elite coverage skills. The Rutgers product’s stellar performance, earning a Pro Football Focus (PFF) grade of 91.6, built on the very impressive campaign he has had in his debut season at safety.

Jabrill Peppers, S

It is clear that safety is easily the best position for New York as they possess two that have been consistently playing at an elite level.

In week 12 specifically, Jabrill Peppers recorded six tackles, four-run stops, one tackle for loss, one QB pressure, and two passes defended. Similar to Logan Ryan, Peppers played as a swiss army knife, making plays all over the field. This play earned him a PFF grade of 89.6, ranking third-best on the team.

Leonard Williams, DT

Williams continues to improve why he should get paid this offseason as he notched his sixth sack of the season against the Bengals. This mark is already 12 times more than his total last year. Williams also recorded his eighth tackle for loss, four times the amount he had last year, and his first fumble recovery of his career. He also forced five QB pressures on the day, proving himself as the Giants’ most consistent pass rusher.

Jabaal Sheard, DE

Another Giants pass rusher who stood out in Cincinnati was Jabaal Sheard. In just his fourth game (and first start) with Big Blue, Sheard became a hero. The veteran made a game-saving strip-sack with just seconds remaining in the contest as the Bengals were driving to score a game-winning field goal. Overall, Sheard played a phenomenal game as he also recorded two other tackles and three-run stops earning a PFF grade of 90.7.

Niko Lalos, DE

Niko Lalos was another unlikely hero who made an amazing play for the Giants. 

Lalos recently elevated from the practice squad, made a highlight-worthy diving interception late in the third quarter to set up a Giants field goal. Lalos also chalked up one quarterback pressure in his NFL debut.

Stock Down

Cameron Fleming, OT

While the offensive line as a whole played a solid game, Cameron Fleming made a few costly plays that had many Giants fans yelling at their TV screens.

Fleming committed three total penalties, including one holding penalty, which brought back a game-winning first down catch and run by Wayne Gallman. This penalty allowed the Bengals to get the ball back with under two minutes with a chance to win.

Overall, Fleming’s blocking was adequate on the day, but he did allow one of the Giants’ three pressures.

Colt McCoy, QB

Colt McCoy entered the game in the third quarter to spell the injured Daniel Jones. As a relief quarterback, McCoy did not have the strongest showing as he completed just six passes for 31 yards earning him a QBR of just 23.1. McCoy was also the Giants’ second worse graded offensive player by PFF (43.4), showing that he was just not ready to play with his new team. This will have to change for the veteran as he will likely receive some action again next week as Daniel Jones is expected to miss some time with a hamstring injury.

Kickoff and Punt Coverage

This was the only department that would have kept the Giants from getting their fourth win of the season. The kickoff coverage opened the game allowing a 103-yard return, which kept the Bengals tied with New York. Then in the final minutes, Alex Erickson almost broke a game-winning punt return touchdown but was tackled after 29 yards by Cam Brown. After these two returns and a total of 208 yards on seven returns, it is clear that this will be an area of emphasis for Joe Judge as he was a former special teams coach. The Giants can not be losing games due to poor special teams play, and this should be fixed quickly by Judge and his staff.