New York Giants: Nate Solder deal named as top contract Giants wish they could get rid of

New York Giants, Will Hernandez, Nate Solder

The New York Giants have made some good free agent decisions and some bad ones over the past few years, but one of the ones that they’ll want to take back is the deal to bring in Nate Solder. It seems like the Patriots moved on from Solder at the right time because his play declined as soon as he joined the Giants. The franchise ended up drafting Andrew Thomas to fill Solder’s position, despite the large contract they had only very recently given the former Patriots tackle.

Now, the Giants are still stuck with their decision and Solder may very well still be a part of the team next season – even if almost no fans were happy with his performance for the one year that he did play with the Giants.

The worst contract on the New York Giants

It’s looking like Solder may retire, but if he doesn’t, he’ll have the second largest cap hit for the Giants in 2021. According to Bleacher Report and one of their latest lists, Solder is also the one contract the Giants wish they could make disappear.

When the Giants signed Solder, he was supposed to become the foundation for an improved line in New York. Instead, the Giants got a turnstile. In 1,011 snaps for the Giants in 2019, Solder surrendered a whopping 11 sacks and may have been the worst blindside protector in the league. His second season in New York in 2020 was a wash, as Solder opted out due to safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There has been some speculation that Solder could retire, but as Cole Claybourn reported for Sports Spectrum, Solder appeared to indicate that he’s leaning toward playing in 2021.

Solder has said that he’ll probably play if he has the opportunity, and that he can mentally and physically handle it.

It’s unclear where Solder will fit into things now that Andrew Thomas has taken over his spot. A move to right tackle wasn’t out of the question during last season, but we didn’t see how that panned out as Solder ended up missing the season due to opting out.

Either way, we’ll likely end up with an answer later in the offseason as we move towards the draft and offseason activities.

New York Giants could reap great benefits by trading down in first round of 2021 NFL Draft

New York Giants, Rashod Bateman

The New York Giants are entering a crucial offseason. In 2020, the Giants averaged only 17.5 points per game on offense. This ineptitude was unacceptable and the Giants have promised to correct the issue. This offseason, the Giants are making it a priority to upgrade their offense.

There are plenty of wide receivers that the Giants will look to sign in free agency. Exciting options in this year’s free agency class includes Kenny Golladay, Curtis Samuel, Allen Robinson, and Corey Davis. Looking further down the road to the NFL Draft, there are even more exciting prospects for the Giants to consider.

Many Giants fans are hoping to see one of the top three wide receiver prospects, Devonta Smith, JaMarr Chase, or Jaylen Waddle fall to them at eleven overall. However, there are plenty of other intriguing options for the Giants if those prospects do not fall into New York’s lap. Trading down is a strong option for the Giants that could reap great benefits in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Benefits of a New York Giants trade down scenario

If the Giants are trying to land a wide receiver in the 2021 NFL Draft, they do not need to take one with the eleventh overall pick. There are numerous exciting wide receiver prospects for the Giants to target in a trade down scenario. The top wide receiver prospect to target in a trade down would be Minnesota’s, Rashod Bateman. But even looking past Bateman there are receiver prospects worth selecting with a mid-twenties draft pick.

Other options include Terrace Marshall out of LSU, Kadarius Toney from Florida, and Rondale Moore of Purdue. These are all talented wide receivers that could make an instant impact for the Giants if they drafted them at the back end of the first round. However, the true benefits that the Giants would find in a trade down scenario come in the middle rounds of the draft.

Ideally, if the Giants traded down from eleven to a pick near twenty overall, they would also receive a third-round pick in return. New York could try to push for a second-round pick in this trade scenario, but likely a third and a potential fifth or sixth-round pick would be the return that the Giants yield.

These middle and late-round picks would give the Giants flexibility and allow them to fill needs within their roster. The draft, at the end of the day, is a crapshoot. The more picks that the Giants possess, the higher the probability is that they land a gem and hit a home run on a draft selection.

For the Giants in 2021, a late-round draft pick could steal yield the elite playmaker that they are searching for. Landing that playmaker in round one while adding additional mid-round picks should make a trade down scenario very intriguing.

NASCAR Cup Series Preview 2021: Hendrick Motorsports

Jimmie Johnson’s NASCAR watch has ended at HMS. Are Chase Elliott and his teammates ready to follow in the steps of Johnson and Jeff Gordon?

2021 Hendrick Motorsports Driver Chart
DriverCar No.Crew ChiefPrimary Sponsor(s)
Kyle Larson5Cliff DanielsNationsGuard/HendrickCars.com
Chase Elliott9Alan GustafsonNAPA Auto Parts/Hooters/Llumar
William Byron24Rudy FugleAxalta/Liberty University
Alex Bowman48Greg IvesAlly

History

In metropolitan terms, Hendrick Motorsports could well be the New York Yankees. Since North Carolina auto dealer Rick Hendrick entered the sport in 1984, some of the finest names in the sport have driven his Chevrolets…including fictional ones, as Hendrick provided the cars used in the NASCAR blockbuster Days of Thunder.

The early days at HMS were dominated by strong runs with names like Geoffrey Bodine, Tim Richmond, Darrell Waltrip, and Ken Schrader, but championships proved elusive. That all changed in 1995, when wunderkind Jeff Gordon, in just his third season on the Cup Series circuit, held off Dale Earnhardt to earn the 1995 championship with the No. 24 team. Hendrick vehicles took each of the next four championships, with Terry Labonte triumphing in the ensuring 1996 season before Gordon captured two more. The fourth and final championship for Gordon came in 2001. Each of his 93 Cup Series victories, third-best all-time, came in Hendrick’s No. 24.

Just when the circuit had enough of Hendrick dominance…Joe Gibbs Racing was rising to power through championships for Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart…Hendrick and Gordon unleashed the monster known as Jimmie Johnson unto the racing world in 2002, driving the newly formed No. 48 Chevrolet. It took a little more patience for Johnson to earn his first championship, but once he did so in 2006, his fifth full year in the Series, there was no stopping him. Johnson would go on to win five consecutive championships (2006-10) before adding two more (2013, 2016) to solidify himself as the driver with the most titles alongside Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. Like Gordon, Johnson won each and every one of his Cup Series races under a Hendrick banner, tallying 83 when all was said and done.

So, suffice to say…there’s a lot to live up to for Hendrick’s current crop.

2020 in Review

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end, as Semisonic routinely sang during Jeff Gordon’s heyday. That perfectly defined the Hendrick Motorsports mindset in 2020. As Jimmie Johnson struggled in a swan song, failing to earn one last win or a playoff berth in a tough season, Chase Elliott followed in his father Bill’s footsteps behind the wheel of the No. 9 Chevrolet. Elliott had been consistent all season…his three-win tally entering the penultimate race at Martinsville could’ve been more than doubled if not for some bad luck along the way…but many were expecting him to perform to a higher standard with strong equipment and a legendary NASCAR pedigree.

But Elliott proved his mettle in historic ways during the final segments of the season. An advancement to the championship round thanks to a win at Martinsville was seemingly for naught when he was forced to start the title-clincher at Phoenix at the back of the field due to failed inspection. But Elliott looked at the best possible way a racer could: more cars for him to pass.

“The confidence level with Chase Elliott is unbelievable,” Hendrick told the media this week. “That’s something that Dale Earnhardt Sr. told me one time. He said you have to know when to race. He said you have to know how to race, but you have to know when to race. And Chase does that.”

Elliott not only worked his way up to the front at Phoenix, but he wound up leading a race-best 153 of 312 laps to clinch the title, the 13th in HMS’ treasured history. He and Bill also became the third father-son duo to take home matching Cup Series championships, joining the Jarretts (Ned and Dale) and Pettys (Lee and Richard).

Other drivers had their chance to shine for Hendrick as well. Alex Bowman, the internal successor to Johnson in the No. 48 Chevorlet, finished out his career under No. 88 branding with an appearance in the semifinal round of eight drivers, ironically dominating the California native Johnson’s final visit to Fontana early in the year. William Byron, bearing Gordon’s iconic numerals, earned his first victory at the regular season finale at Daytona.

Meet the Drivers

Kyle Larson

Experience: 7th full season
Career Cup Victories: 6 (last: Dover fall, 2019)
2020 finish: 34th
Best standings finish: 6th (2019)

By now, both the casual observer and the die-hard fan alike knows about Larson’s transgression that led to his ousting from Chip Ganassi Racing, uttering a racial slur during a virtual event on the iRacing platform. Larson’s return was earned through not only undergoing mandated sensitivity training from NASCAR but lending his time and resources to several charitable causes to educate himself on modern affairs and to be a better person. It was enough to convince Hendrick that Larson had earned a new opportunity, one to drive the No. 5 Chevrolet that Labonte drove to a championship a quarter-century prior.

“When you look at the character of what he is; a lot of people do things and they say I’m sorry, right?” Hendrick asked rhetorically. “They just say I’m sorry and go right on running their life. And that’s all they have to do. And people say okay, we’ll give you another shot. This guy did ten times that. And he’s created an image and things in that community that people really respect him. So, I guess the answer to the riddle is that I’m a part of it, but it was Kyle’s heart and Kyle’s desire that got him back.”

There’s no denying that Larson has the talent to succeed in racing. He won six races driving CGR’s No. 42 (four during the 2017 campaign) and earned countless victories driving dirt cars during his suspension.

Chase Elliott

Experience: 6th full season
Career Cup Victories: 11 (last: Phoenix fall, 2020)
2020 finish: 2020 Champion
Best standings finish: 2020 Champion

It truly is a bit of a shame that Elliott’s career is connected to so many of the sport’s most memorable names. He’s the son of Bill Elliott, originally took over for Jeff Gordon after racing for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s team in the Xfinity Series. Such connections have helped Elliott reach this point, but may be used by detractors to discount his incredible success. With his first championship under his belt, Elliott is now ready to truly leave a mark on the sport; he knows that NASCAR is a world of “what have you done for me lately”, a feeling he feels has permeated every professional sport. He compared it to those who asked Jimmie Johnson the same questions toward the end of his career.

“In any sport, it’s what have you done lately,” Elliott remarked. “I think about all the disrespect that Jimmie Johnson got toward the end of this career. It’s like everyone forgot about how great he is just because he had a bad race or a bad stretch of races. The lesson that taught me is that no matter what you do, if you have a bad stretch or don’t do well, then they’re going to come after you about whatever you’ve done recently.”

“On the flip side of that, if you have a good run after being trashed for a year or something, everyone is going to be hyping you up, be excited for you and jumping on the bandwagon. It’s all about performance and all about what you’ve done lately. We want to push; we want to continue to do good for ourselves and push our team internally. That’s all that matters to me, and that’s all that matters to our entire group.”

Only making Elliott ever more dangerous this season? As the winner of the last four visits to road course events, perhaps no one is more excited to see a record seven on the 2021 slate than Elliott.

William Byron

Experience: 4th season
Career Cup Victories: 1 (last: Daytona summer, 2020)
2020 finish: 14th
Best standings finish: 11th (2019)

Byron has had a little trouble racing up to the reputation that his numerals mandate, failing to finish in the top ten in any of his first four seasons. He did get one monkey off his back by earning his first career victory at the regular season finale at Daytona that punched his playoff ticket. Byron mentioned that going into the new year liberated from the burden of missing out on his first Cup win will work in the team’s favor.

“It’s great that there is not as much attention on that headline and not as much outside noise. For us, the goal is still the same – to win. Our goal has always been to win and now we can do it with some confidence. We can just focus on just doing our jobs.”

Alex Bowman

Experience: 6th full season
Career Cup Victories: 2 (last: Fontana 2020)
2020 finish: 6th
Best standings finish: 6th (2020)

To put things in metropolitan terms, Bowman replacing Johnson in the No. 48 is the equivalent of what Didi Gregorious went through when he took over the mantle of New York Yankees shortstop from Derek Jeter. It’s a spot that will feature increased eyes and heightened scrutiny, a challenge Bowman believes he’s handling well going into this fateful season.

Bowman is eager to fulfill those sky-high expectations but stays grounded by reminding himself that he’s working his way through NASCAR for himself.

“The biggest thing for me is there’s not a car number or situation in the world that’s going to put more pressure on me than I put on myself. I feel like all race car drivers are selfish but I’m really selfish,” he said. “I just want to win for me. Obviously, I want to win for Hendrick Motorsports and for Chevrolet and for Ally and for everybody that makes this deal possible.

“But more so than any of that, I want to win for me. I put a ton of pressure on myself each and every week to go do that and to run well and to run how we should. I think outside situations don’t really add to that. I probably put too much stress on myself and too much pressure on myself at times, but it’s all from me because I care about how we run and because I want to run well. It’s not really because somebody is saying oh the No. 48 has to go win or needs to go win a championship. It’s because I want to win and because I want to win championships.”

Outlook

Elliott is obviously going to be someone to keep an eye on in the grand scheme of things, while it’ll be interesting to see how Bowman handles the newfound responsibilities that are attached to the No. 48. Both Byron and Larson will each face heightened expectations as well, as Hendrick Motorsports undergoes a youthful revolt.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

MLB Analysis: Will this be the season of few home runs? MLB deadens the ball

In the last few years, MLB has been doing a lot of fiddling with America’s summer pastime. Whether it be new rules, healthy protocols, and yes, the baseball itself. Some of these changes have been caused by the coronavirus, but some seem to be changed for no explainable reason. Of course, we can’t hang all of this on the MLB; the MLBPA (players union) has also had their say, often being confrontational with team’s owners.

Last year during the short season, there was not much talk about the baseball itself. Last season the New York Yankee’s Luke Voit won the home run championship hitting 22 long balls in just 60 games. During 2019 Pete Alonso of the New York Mets was the home run king with 53 homers. That was the year that all the talk was about the “juiced” ball. One of the reasons the discussion gained traction was that no one, including the hitters, was aware of the ball’s change but noticed the increase in home runs.

Now the MLB is changing the ball again, ever so slightly. But if history is any indication ever so slightly can make a significant change in the game. During the last two decades, Major League Baseball has fallen off in popularity quite a bit. Regardless of the team, fans like to see home runs and come to the park to see their favorite player slam that ball over the fence or high up in the bleachers. So why would MLB want to cut down on the number of home runs? Neither MLB nor MLBPA gives fans a voice in changes in baseball.

Multiple sources confirm the ball’s construction will change slightly, and five more teams are adding humidors for ball storage — all parts of MLB’s attempt to reduce the wild recent year-to-year swings in home run rates league-wide. I don’t know about you, but to deaden the ball from 2019 and 2020 to a ball that doesn’t carry as far in 2021 sure seems like a year-to-year swing. Why not just leave it alone?

The Athletic obtained an internal memo Major League Baseball sent Friday to general managers, assistant general managers, and equipment managers outlining minor changes that might combine to reduce offense slightly in the 2021 season. The combined effects might seem imperceptible to fans and perhaps even those on the field, but history suggests minimal changes to the ball’s construction can be a big deal.

“In an effort to center the ball with the specification range for COR and CCOR, Rawlings produced a number of baseballs from late 2019 through early 2020 that loosened the tension of the first wool winding,” the memo from the office of the commissioner reads, explaining that this change had two effects — reducing the weight of the ball by less than one-tenth of an ounce, and also a slight decrease in the bounciness of the ball as measured by the COR and CCOR.

I’m not going to get into the scientific composition of a baseball and how it can be changed and still look the same but responds differently. All you really have to know is that this year’s baseball will be less bouncy. Less bouncy means when a hitter hits a ball that should go over the wall, now it will challenge outfielders to catch that same ball three feet short of that wall.

The new balls’ weight will be reduced by less than 2.8 grams. That might seem like no big deal until you compare this situation to what happened in Korea when the Korean Baseball Organization deadened the ball there. On the field, Korean baseball was drastically different from one year to the next. The KBO actually increased the ball’s weight by one ounce in 2018 and its size by 1 millimeter. The result was dramatically fewer home runs.

Dr. Meredith Wills, who has published pieces about recent changes in the ball’s construction, had this to say:

“Unless a decrease in weight can be offset so as not to make the ball smaller, you might expect drag to go down here, leading to the odd situation of a ball that is deader coming off the bat but carries farther. Without greater precision than 1/10 of an ounce (about 2.8 grams, or almost three times the KBO change), any evidence of an aggregate size change could be difficult to detect without a Statcast-sized sample.”

“It’ll be like adding five feet of outfield walls to every wall in the big leagues,” the analyst said. But it’s hard to know the specifics without knowing what the drag difference will be. The memo mentions nothing about the drag, which has been a a major factor in differences in how the ball has performed in the last few years. Drag is more difficult to control than bounciness, one source said. Others felt the drag difference would be negligible.

Owners and players haven’t said much about the change to deaden the ball, but one general manager said:

“It sounds to me as it will result in more ball consistency and a very, very slight deadening of the ball,” said one general manager, referencing the memo’s language about placing the ball in the middle of the ‘specification range.’ When asked if it seemed baseball was deadening the ball on purpose, one general manager agreed: “That’s the desired result.”

One thing that is for sure is that all teams will be eager to get a hold of these new balls when spring training starts in just a few days. They will want to see how the ball responds to both pitchers and players and figure what adjustments will have to be made, if any.

 

 

New York Yankees in “serious talks” with Justin Wilson

New York Yankees, Justin Wilson

According to reports, the New York Yankees are in “serious talks” with LHP Justin Wilson. The 33-year-old is one of the few relief arms still available on the market, and one of the most desired ones.

Wilson spent the past two seasons with the New York Mets and had a one-year stint with the Yankees in 2015. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 5th round of the 2008 MLB draft and debuted with the team in 2012.

Following the 2014 season, the Yankees acquired Wilson in a deal for Francisco Cervelli. He was one of the Yankees’ top pitchers in 2015, finishing with a 3.10 ERA in 74 games.

Once again, Wilson was traded during the off-season, this time to the Detroit Tigers for Luis Cessa and Chad Green. He spent a season and a half with the Tigers before a 2017 trade deadline deal took him to the Chicago Cubs. Wilson was under the control of the Cubs through 2018 and then went to the Mets on a two-year deal beginning in 2019.

Across his nine-year career, Wilson has a 3.27 ERA in 480 games with a 3.34 FIP and a 123 ERA+. If the Yankees were to sign Wilson, he’d likely slide into a high-leverage, middle-relief option. With Chad Green, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman controlling the back-end of the bullpen, the Yankees have looked to add middle-relief options all winter. They signed Darren O’Day to a one-year deal and signed Adam Warren and Kyle Barraclough to minor league deals.

The Yankees have made a big bullpen splash this off-season, and if they sign Justin Wilson, they’ll bolster their bullpen even more.

The Legacy of Hinchliffe Stadium, Part II: Larry Doby’s Legend

ESM’s look into the legacy of Hinchliffe Stadium and one of its most renowned attractions: MLB trailblazer and Hall of Famer Larry Doby.

For Part I, click here

Major League Baseball is a rare league where second place isn’t guaranteed any form of glory. With five teams from each reaching its postseason bracket, for example, at least one runner-up is guaranteed to be denied entry.

But, in the case of Paterson, New Jersey’s own Larry Doby, his second-place entry held true meaning to the game of baseball and eternally changed the sport, particularly its so-called “Junior Circuit”.

Lawrence Eugene Doby shattered a major baseball color barrier on July 5, 1947. Upon his entry into the Cleveland Indians’ mid-summer tilt against the Chicago White Sox, pinch-hitting for reliever Bryan Stephens, Doby became the first African-American player to partake in an American League game, less than three months after Jackie Robinson made his well-documented debut for Brooklyn. Though Doby struck out in his first plate appearance, it wasn’t long before he was making an impact. The very next day, Doby’s first career MLB hit drove in a run in Cleveland’s 5-1 victory in the latter half of a doubleheader. It would become the first of 1,515 MLB hits over a 13-year career.

But that was far from Doby’s first professional baseball hit, though few were aware of it at the time. Prior to his full-time MLB entry, Doby tallied at least 100 hits as a member of the Newark Eagles, a Negro league staple for 13 seasons, whose statistics were recently ratified as “Major League” tallies by the powers that be in December. Alongside fellow New Jersey resident Monte Irvin, Doby played an integral part of Newark’s triumph in the 1946 Negro World Series, where the Eagles upset the legendary Kansas City Monarchs (headlined by Satchel Paige) in a seven-game set.

Yet, to the naked eye, Doby’s legacy appears somewhat forgotten. While Robinson (rightfully) gets literally an entire day dedicated to his heroics, Doby’s name may be a bit taboo to the casual fan of America’s pastime, even with an invitation to Cooperstown extended in 1998. But make no mistake…those with an intricate knowledge of the game and its integration know of Doby’s vital role.

Doby’s days of baseball stardom, a dominance of athletic events in general, began at Hinchliffe Stadium, starring at Paterson Eastside High School on Maple Street’s diamond, gridiron, and track. Hinchliffe later played a role in netting Doby his first professional opportunities as well. The intersection of Liberty and Maple hosted Doby’s first professional tryout in front of the renowned Manley family, Abe, and future Hall of Famer Effa, who signed Doby to partake in their high-flying Eagles’ endeavors.

In celebration of Doby’s legacy, ESM recently had a chance to sit down with Doby’s son, Larry Jr., to gain his perspective on the ongoing events at Hinchliffe Stadium, as well as his father’s legacy. Doby Jr. has developed a strong career of his own traversing baseball fields across the country, though he’s making different kinds of fireworks in the outfield. The younger Doby has been a staple of Billy Joel’s road crew for over two decades. In 2017, Doby partook in Joel’s first visit to Cleveland, where his father’s number (14) adorns the right upper deck at Progressive Field.

Q: What does the legacy of Hinchliffe Stadium mean to you and your family on a personal level? 

LDJ: On a personal level, my father was never one to speak much of his baseball career. As a young boy, I would always, obviously, want to hear about it. I think anybody would be interested in what their father’s job was, so to speak. Obviously, in what my father did, I was a little bit more interested in hearing the stories. He was never one to talk about that much, but he always, always, always, talked about playing football on Thanksgiving at Hinchliffe Stadium against Central High School.

That was the biggest thing in his athletic career, that’s when he made it. The whole town was there. I don’t know what the numbers were for the games, I’m going to guess it was maybe five-to-ten thousand people. But I guess he felt like the whole city was there watching them, and those are some of his most found memories of his athletics. Those are the ones he shared with me. Therefore, to me, it’s obviously something where I’d sit and I could see in eyes how meaningful (Eastside football) was to him.

Learning the history behind the stadium in general was a great experience too, all the different events that it hosted, what it meant to the city of Paterson, the fact that they had (auto) races there, the fact that they did plays, that Abbot and Costello were there. It’s one of the few remaining stadiums that the Negro Leagues actually played in. It’s just very heartwarming that they see fit to restore it and make it better than it ever was and make it something where some high school kids in Paterson can have some of the fond memories that my dad had. That’s a nice thought and I’m hoping it does actually happen. They’ve been talking about it for a while and it seems that now, through the efforts of many, that it’s going to happen. I’m looking forward to seeing it returned and maybe see it restored to a better condition than it ever was.

Q: How important is it to preserve such a piece of African-American history in this era of reckoning?

LDJ: I’m a person who doesn’t believe that they should tear statues down. I feel like it’s history, whether it’s good or bad, and it should be learned and it should be told correctly. As they say, those who do not know history are condemned to repeat it. I would’ve liked those (torn-down) statues to have the real history of what those people represented.

As far as Hinchliffe, whenever you can represent a historical site correctly, I think it’s beneficial. The Negro Leagues to me are a great example of American ingenuity. American ingenuity isn’t only white or Black. (The players) said ‘wow, we’d like to play baseball, show our abilities’. The powers that be didn’t allow them to play with them so they started their own leagues. It floruished for many years and some of the greatest players in the history of the game had their start there. Some of the greatest players in the history of the game played their whole career there and were never able to show their wares on a national site. Therefore, I think it is important and I think it does legitimize and bring attention to the efforts of those people that participated in those leagues.

Q: What’s the best way that people can get involved and educate themselves on this restoration so as to further the cause?

LDJ: That’s a great question, but I don’t know and I wish I had an answer. I know that the mayor is behind this 100 percent and that he’s trying to involve a lot of local businesses and companies in this undertaking. I know my friend Brian LoPinto knows the history backward and forward and might be able to help those who want to get involved. [Author’s note: Brian LoPinto, one of the top voices of the Friends of Hinchliffe Stadium, has been an essential contributor to this project]

Q: What’s the one thing you’d like people to know about the Doby family story?

LDJ: It’s basically the same story as Jackie Robinson. It’s not going to get the notoriety or attention because (my father) was number two. I just think it’s so ironic. America is a lot of things. It’s a land of opportunity and a lot of other things. But it’s also a land where it’s so big-hearted and where we give people a second chance. Somebody messes up, people I think love to see people overcome obstacles and rise to the top. The funny thing is that we are so ingrained in giving people second chances but we’re not as fond of the second people to do certain things.

My father happened to be second (in baseball’s integration), so his impact is not known as well and understood. I guess it’s just to say that my father was a humble guy. He never really tooted his own horn. If he wasn’t that kind of person, maybe his story would’ve been known more, but, again, he would always face being number two. The thing that he was proudest of, the thing I’m most proud of, is that because of he and Mr. Robinson’s efforts, little boys were allowed to dream of playing in the big leagues. People came after them. That’s what I would be most proud of, that’s what I would say sums up the kind of person he was. All that stuff started at Hinchliffe. It’s a special place.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice your father bestowed to you? 

LDJ: I guess the best piece of advice he ever said to me was to treat people the way they treat you, and the way you want to be treated. Those are some of his words that still ring true to me this day. We all have natural prejudices. But there’s no room in society for racism. That’s when you say ‘I don’t care who this person is because they’re of this race. I don’t like them, I don’t want to deal with them’. I think treating people the way you would like to be treated and treating them as individuals, I think, is his most important advice to me.

Q: How proud are you of the impact your father has left, particularly on the Paterson, NJ area?

LDJ: I’m probably as proud as any son could be of his father. I know that one of the reasons why Paterson holds him in such high esteem was because he never forgot it. Paterson never forgot him, equally. All of his athletics began there, pretty much. He played on integrated teams and had a lot of success. He flourished as an athlete. It was a Negro League umpire (Henry Moore) that had seen him play. That’s the guy that suggested he play in the Negro Leagues. He tried out at Hinchliffe, and the rest, as they say, is history.

He was grateful to his coaches, his teammates, his friends, all the people that supported him in Paterson. I think the legacy is intertwined. He wouldn’t be who he was without this stuff starting in Paterson. In hand, he brings Paterson notoriety because of what he did after he left. It’s a nice love story.

Q: When you look at the state of baseball today, where have you and your family made the largest impact, and what areas need to be improved in terms of being fully welcoming?

LDJ: What he’s done is allow people to come after him. Without Jackie Robinson and my father, there’s no Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Reggie Jackson. Those two guys were the first. It was a great experiment, that what it was called. Can a Black guy play with white teammates? It’s crazy when you think about it today, but then it was a great experiment. They knew that if they didn’t succeed, there might’ve been a long, long time before another person of color was given an opportunity to play Major League Baseball.

The proudest thing about my dad was that, because of him, the door was always open. People came after him. Maybe he didn’t enjoy all the fame and notoriety, but the ones that did are pioneers, sometimes, are not. Their work makes it possible. They don’t get to enjoy the fruits of their labor but that’s what I’m most proud of. After Mr. Robinson and my father, the American pastime was truly All-American.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Yankees News: Miguel Andujar’s role for 2021, could he be traded?

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

With spring training just three days away, the New York Yankees still have a few moves left to make before they can feel confident with their roster. With position battles expected to take place, primarily within their depth spots, it should be an exciting spring. However, there are a few players left in limbo who have yet to realize their future.

One player who doesn’t have a defined role for the 2021 season is infielder Miguel Andujar. At 25 years old, Andujar is coming off a disappointing performance in 2020, where he hit .242 with one homer and five RBIs. His defense was a liability, as the Yankees attempted to insert him at the left-field position, which failed miserably.

He seems to be more of a utility player at this point in time, as the Yankees feel their starting roster is all but set. Clint Frazier has cemented himself in LF, and Andujar is still trying to carve out a spot on the roster.

That doesn’t mean Andujar should be forgotten about, as he still provides offensive value and represents a fantastic option if injuries do arise. The Yankees have dealt with significant injury problems over the last few years, and having a player of his magnitude to pull up at any moment is a huge positive.

According to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, Andujar could be used as a filler in multiple spots:

With Gio Urshela recovering from offseason surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow, Andújar figures to receive most of the early reps at third base, as Urshela might not play in an exhibition game until the second week of March. That will provide Andújar with a chance to showcase his talents, not only for the Yankees, but also for the other 29 clubs.

If Andújar is on the Opening Day roster, his role is likely similar to what it was in 2020 — a backup at the infield corners and an occasional fill-in in outfield corners. Andújar could see time at designated hitter as well, of course, though that still seems to be Giancarlo Stanton’s full-time gig.

Andujar’s last successful season came in 2018 when he was a rookie. Over 606 plate appearances, he hit 27 homers and 92 RBIs. He finished with a 2.97 BA and 2.8 WAR. His influence was impactful, leading the Yankees to believe he could be their third baseman of the future. It wasn’t until Gio Urshela replaced him due to a shoulder injury that the Bombers finally realized what they were missing — an elite defensive presence on the hot corner.

There’s always the possibility that Miguel could be traded, especially if general manager Brian Cashman is looking to inject another quality relief pitcher into the bullpen. If I were the Yankees, I wouldn’t be actively seeking a trade, but if another team appears interested, it can’t hurt to kick the tires.

Knicks’ Immanuel Quickley demanding ‘respect’ from some of the league’s best players

New York Knicks, Immanuel Quickley

The New York Knicks are coming off two consecutive victories, with their latest, against the Houston Rockets 121-99. Thanks to stellar performances from Julius Randle and rookie Immanuel Quickley, New York has strung together a few impressive performances, dominating teams with bad defense and questionable offense.

Quickley finished the game with 22 points, shooting 7-of-9 from the field and 4-of-6 from three. He also connected on all four of his free throws and earned a +/- +17. The Kentucky product has continued to impress, and he has a new mentor teaching him the ropes in Derrick Rose. However, star Rockets PG John Wall had motivating things to say about Quickley, who played an altogether better game than his peer.

“He’s someone I respect,’’ Wall said of Quickley before the game. “I’m very happy for him to get the opportunity. I’m glad he’s showing people he’s more than just a shooter. That’s a lot of what people thought. The way he runs the point guard position has been good. It’s going to be good to go against him.”

Quickley has made significant leaps forward in his development, utilizing his vision on the court to spread the ball and a dangerous floating shot that mirrors Derrick Rose’s. Quickley responded to Wall’s comments with a sense of gratitude, as it becomes clear that he is just scratching the surface of his potential. With the right coaches and players around him, Quickley has the ability to be a premium point guard in the NBA, which would solve a problem the Knicks have dealt with for years.

“He told me I was having a good season, he told me to keep working,’’ Quickley said. “And just stay with it. It’s a long season but just keep getting better every day.’’

The New York Knicks move to acquire Rose paying off in dividends:

Parting ways with Dennis Smith Jr. became acceptable when Quickley entered the fold and immediately shot up the depth chart. What Rose is teaching Quickley is invaluable and will ultimately help him over the long term. This move by Tom Thibodeau and management could be their best this season, simply based on the fact that it’s helping their star rookie grow even faster.

“I’m learning a lot of stuff [from him],’’ Quickley said. “I don’t want to give it away because a lot of stuff I’m going to take with me throughout my career. So really just his energy. He’s a dog, an alpha dog, he’s a leader. It’s great to have somebody like that in my corner.’’

New York Yankees: The “Big Maple” to Seattle, Yankees hire a lefty and more

The New York Yankees ex-pitcher James Paxton the “Big Maple” is no longer a free agent after not being resigned by the Yankees. Paxton will be returning to his old team the Seattle Mariners. After an injury-plagued season last year with the Yankees, Paxton will be taking a big pay cut moving to the west coast. Last season he earned almost $13 million with the Yankees. In the upcoming season, Paxton will get a paycheck of only $8.5 million which is certainly not chump change for the 32-year-old.

Paxton went 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA in 29 starts for the Yankees in 2019 and had a 3.46 ERA in three postseason starts. Last season just before spring training Paxton had to have back surgery, which caused him to start late, then he suffered a flexor stain allowing him to pitch in just five games for the Yankees during 2020. Now that Paxton is back in Seattle where he will enjoy a bit of notoriety, Aaron Judge has his Judge’s chambers, and Pax will have his “Maple Grove.” Paxton also has some incentives attached to his contract that could bring his pay up to $10 million.

This deal works for both parties as the Mariners, after success, last year will again go with a six-man pitching rotation. Extra-depth never hurts. For Paxton, it will give him a season to regain his reputation before becoming a free agent again. The signing of the one year deal means that all the pitchers the Yankees let walk are now with other teams. Mashiro Tanaka went back to Japan to play with the Eagles and J.A. Happ is now with the Minnesota Twins.

Yankees sign lefty outfielder

The Yankees reportedly have given a minor league contract to former Philadelphia Philly Jay Bruce. Bruce is a 33-year-old veteran outfielder that can play anywhere in the outfield. Bruce will earn $1.35 million with the Yankees if he makes the 2021 team. The deal also includes bonuses based on the number of plate appearances.

For the New York Yankees, this is a depth move that will also provide a lefty bat to the lineup if he is used. The Bruce signing does not rule out a reunion with Brett Gardner, but it does make it less likely. Bruce, 33, batted .198/.252/.469 with six home runs and 14 RBIs in 32 games for the Phillies last season. A three-time National League All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger Award winner, the left-handed-hitting outfielder owns a career .245/.314/.469 slash line (108 OPS+) with 318 home runs and 948 RBIs over 1,640 games with the Reds, Mets, Indians, Mariners, and Phillies. The Yankees have not confirmed the deal.

Could the Yankees be reuniting with Justin Wilson?

Reports surfaced yesterday that the team had considered reuniting with Justin Wilson. The left-hander had a successful year in pinstripes back in 2015, and he’s coming off a solid two-season stretch with the Mets during which he managed a 143 ERA+. Apparently, the Yankees are still in on a reunion with the lefty, who spent 2015 setting up Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller at Yankee Stadium.

He’d be a catch (especially as the fifth-most-important in the pecking order), but his projected cost has long been about $5 million annually on a multi-year deal. Would the Yankees really go that high with a de facto salary cap in place? A move to bring Wilson back who is one of the best lefties on the market would eat up most if not all of the Yankees’ wiggle room to stay under the $210 luxury tax threshold. It would also prevent the New York Yankees from bringing back centerfielder Brett Gardner if they stick to the plan to stay below that tax line.

 

 

 

Rangers D Anthony DeAngelo’s talent being wasted as he sits in Blueshirt jail

It has been almost two weeks since the New York Rangers removed defenseman Anthony DeAngelo from the team’s roster. A physical altercation with goaltender Alexandar Georgiev was the finals straw in a turbulent career in New York for Tony D.

DeAngelo has been in and out of the team’s dog house since his arrival in 2017. Despite his ongoing feuds on social media, which much of the time were more related to his political view than his play on the ice, he has shown he can be a valued asset to this team.

Last season DeAngelo had a career year. He was ranked fourth in defenseman in scoring, recording 15 goals, 38 assists for 53 points while appearing in 68 games.

What Went Wrong

How things turned so incredibly bad can not be answered in one simple statement. It looked like for every one step forward the defenseman took, he then took two steps backward. It appeared that the Rangers were happy with how things were going with their relationship with DeAngelo when the team signed him to a two-year, $9.6 million contract in October 2020.

During the offseason, DeAngelo started a lot of dialogue on his Twitter account which led to a lot of banter between him and his fans. A Donald Trump supporter, DeAngelo never held back what he felt, which tended to get him into some trouble.

The organization wanted him to back down a little bit with regards to what he had to say on Twitter, but holding back an opinion was not DeAngelo’s style.

He spoke to Larry Brooks of the New York Post about his time on Twitter and views of the MAGA stance saying,

“I’m definitely misportrayed in my opinion,People have different opinions and I respect everyone’s opinion. I never attack anyone for their opinion. I have mine that obviously I shared, but I never thought that I crossed the line with anything. I understand people not liking it, the way things went, but I’m definitely not an extremist, that I can tell you. I thought I gave my opinion, I respect other people’s opinions, and that’s all I thought I was doing.”

More cause for concern was the unproven and false story that DeAngelo took the first goal puck of rookie defenseman K’Andre Miller.

DeAngelo was the center of another drama prior to the Georgiev altercation that incorrectly stated he would not return the puck to Miller.

Miller’s agent Ian Pulver told the Post,

“K’Andre Miller was never part of any part of the Tony DeAngelo story at all, there were no issues between them of any kind. There is no reason he should be part of this.“As far as the first-goal puck being an issue, K’Andre never even knew it to be an issue. It was always his understanding that the puck was with the training staff. It’s not right that he has become part of this story.”

The altercation with Georgiev was all general manager Jeff Gorton was willing to take. DeAngelo was placed and cleared waivers days later.

Is Isolating Tony D The Right Move?

In the five games DeAngelo has missed, the club has a record of 2-2-1. They have been shutout in two out of their last three games and have managed to score just nine goals in the five-game span.

The power-play has been invisible during this stretch. In the last 5 games, the Blueshirts have had 18 man-advantage opportunities but have managed just one power-play goal. The club is currently ranked 28th in the league with the man-advantage this season (11.5%).

Last season the club finished the abbreviated shorten season ranked seventh in the NHL at 22.9% effective. DeAngelo had 19 power-play points last season (3G, 16A).

After two weeks of isolation, with the teams struggling to find goal scoring and wins, suffering game after game of one-goal losses the question must be asked, are the Rangers causing their own demise by not re-activating Tony D back into the lineup?

 

The team has been unable to trade him currently which was no surprise. Though there has been a little chatter about a potential trade, nothing has panned out so far. Rumors and unsubstantial reports have circulated that the team will sit the 25-year-old until the end of the season where they will then -lace him on the unprotected expansion draft list, then buy him out if he is not claimed.

That’s is a huge waste of salary cap and talent to prove a point. DeAngelo is scheduled to make $4.8 million this season to sit at home and wait.

Pride Needs To Be Placed Aside

Let’s forget about his political views and his antics on and off the ice. The kid can play hockey when he is focused.

The Blueshirts were not a strong team defensively prior to the start of the season, and now due to injuries to Brendan Smith and Jack Johnson are relying on Libor Hajek and Anthony Bitetto.

DeAngelo may not appear to be the savior the club is missing, but he is an offensive threat when he is on the ice, something the team has been lacking with the struggles are Mika Zibanejad and Ryan Strome among the many on this team.

At the end of the day, it is all bout getting wins which this team has done only four times this season (4-6-3).

A distraction or a needed addition is what the organization needs to answer. Two weeks is a long time to take a look at what the pros and cons would be for bringing DeAngelo back to the team.

What the team can ill afford to do is let him sit at his home in New Jersey and watch the team struggle to find a way to win one-goal contests.