New York Giants: Eli Manning enters TV with new ESPN+ show

New York Giants, Eli Manning

After a quiet year of retirement from former New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, it looks like we’re going to see more out of him. That’s because Eli has shown interest this year in being back around football in one capacity or another, and right now, that’s coming in the form of working on a TV show for ESPN.

The show, which is going to air on ESPN+, is called Eli’s Places and will go into the story of college football and its famous players and locations. If the name sounds familiar, that’s because the other famous Manning brother also has a show on the network called Peyton’s Places, which follows roughly the same format but focuses on pro football instead of the NCAA.

Peyton’s Places has generally received good ratings, with an 8.6 out of 10 stars on IMDB. It was renewed for a third season back in December, so it looks like the format is already successful and Eli shouldn’t have many problems adapting it to the college ranks.

Earlier in the year, Manning said that he wanted to work more with the Giants. He reportedly visited co-owner John Mara about having some kind of role with the organization, too.

It remains to be seen if him mentoring the younger and sleeker current Giants team will work with his schedule of filming with ESPN+, but with Manning going into TV, it does seem like there’s room for eventual collaborations down the line.

After all, now that we’re all further removed from the controversies surrounding his final seasons in the league and the way the Giants handled him, almost all fans would like to see Eli back around in some form or another.

Should the New York Giants wait until the second round to draft a wide receiver?

new york giants, terrace marshall

The New York Giants are in search of new offensive playmakers this offseason. The Giants averaged only 17.5 points per game in 2020, the second-lowest average in the NFL. General manager Dave Gettleman and co-owner John Mara promised in their post-season press conferences that they would add offensive weapons to help Daniel Jones.

The Giants are expected to target wide receivers in free agency and the draft. Many mock drafts have the Giants selecting a wide receiver with the eleventh overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. But this year’s wide receiver class is loaded with talent. Would the Giants be better off waiting until the second round to draft a wide receiver?

Why the Giants might want to wait on wide receiver

The 2021 NFL Draft class is, once again, filled with talented wide receivers. There could be as many as five or six wide receivers drafted in the first round of this year’s draft. In 2020, there was a very similar situation. Like 2021, there were three standout wide receiver prospects in last year’s draft class. But somehow, not a single wide receiver was selected in the top ten.

There could be as many as three wide receivers selected in the top ten in 2021. Six wide receivers were selected in the first round in 2020. That could realistically happen again in 2021.

Many fans feel that it is necessary for the Giants to land one of this year’s top three receivers in the class: Jaylen Waddle, Ja’Marr Chase, or Devonta Smith. But based on recent draft history, that is not necessarily the case. The top performer from the 2020 wide receiver class was the fifth receiver taken, Justin Jefferson. Jefferson went on to post 1,400 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns in his rookie season.

In round two, a number of teams found new starting wide receivers like the Pittsburgh Steelers (Chase Claypool) and the Indianapolis Colts (Michael Pittman Jr.). This was also the case in 2019 when AJ Brown and DK Metcalf were both drafted in round two and have gone on to be true primary receivers for their respective teams.

There has been a trend in recent years where the highest-drafted wide receiver prospects in the class are outperformed by later draft picks. With so much wide receiver talent in the 2021 NFL Draft, New York could consider waiting to draft a wideout until they are on the clock with the forty-third pick in the draft.

Who might be available in round two?

There are a number of wide receiver prospects that are expected to be drafted at the back end of the first round. But any one of these receivers could fall to round two since teams know there is a surplus of wide receiver talent in this year’s class. Potential round two targets for the Giants include Rondale Moore, Kadarius Toney, Terrace Marshall Jr., and Elijah Moore.

Any one of these prospects could be taken in round one. But these prospects could realistically fall to the second round. The Giants should be prepared to double-dip at wide receiver if one of these prospects falls, whether they select a playmaker in round one or not. The wide receiver talent on the board could be too good for the New York Giants to pass up on in round two.

New York Jets franchise tag Marcus Maye

The New York Jets have franchise-tagged standout safety Marcus Maye, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Maye and the team have been negotiating a new contract, but this news puts an end to that discussion for now.

After the departure of Jamal Adams, Maye took on a much larger role with the Jets defense. He set career-highs in sacks, tackles, tackles-for-loss and forced fumbles, to name a few. He will now have another chance to showcase himself before attempting to land a new contract.

The franchise tag allows the Jets to keep him on their roster without agreeing on a much higher salary with a new contract.

Maye is set to make around $10.5 million this year under the franchise tag. At least for the upcoming season, the Jets will have their defensive leader back on the field.

Mets Play Ugly Defense for the Second Straight Game in 9-5 Loss to Nats

The New York Mets pitching join their defensive struggles in a 9-5 loss against the Washington Nationals. Judging by the tweets and few videos from the game, the Mets should be thankful this game was not televised.

Jordan Yamamoto got the start for the Mets, and his first-inning cost him a good outing. After retiring the first two batters, an error and walk gave the Nats a free opportunity to score. Ryan Zimmerman and Kyle Schwarber tagged him for RBI singles to give them an early 2-0 lead. Yamamoto would pitch two scoreless innings to finish his outing.

Dellin Betances followed him and fell victim to the two-out rally as well. A double from Starlin Castro led to a throwing error from third baseman J.D. Davis and allowed him to score. Betances fastball was in the 91 mph range but peaked at 94 mph.

Matt Allan continued the trend of two-out runs by allowing three (one earned) during his one inning of work. An RBI single led to the first run, then an error from Jake Hager at second base allowed the Nats to drive in another two. Robert Gsellman was the only pitcher who kept the Nationals off the board with his scoreless inning.

Francisco Lindor finally broke the seal with his first two hits as a member of the Mets. It comes on the same day the Mets announced negotiations will begin for a long-term deal. Mark Vientos was the other Met with multiple hits as he recorded two doubles. Jake Hager recorded the biggest hit with a three-run homer, his second home run of the spring. Hager only has two hits in spring training, and both are via the long ball.

The Mets head back to Port St. Lucie to face the St. Louis Cardinals at 1:10 p.m. Taijuan Walker makes his Mets debut against Carlos Martinez (0-1, 32.40 ERA), and it will be televised on SNY.

 

After getting back in the win column at UFC 259, what’s next for Dominick Cruz?

Dominick Cruz

It’s been a tough last decade for the former UFC bantamweight champion, Dominick Cruz (23-3). Back in 2011, Cruz was on top of the world as the bantamweight champion. He ended that year by defending his title against Demetrious Johnson.

However, after that win, it would be almost three years before Cruz would compete again in the UFC. A series of knee injuries kept the former champion out of action. During that time, the promotion and the division moved on.

Cruz came back and looked incredible against Takeya Mizugaki in 2014. However, it would be another year and a half before Cruz was to fight again. Between October 2011 and January 2016, Dominick Cruz fought one time.

In January of 2016, Cruz completed his comeback by defeating TJ Dillashaw to become UFC bantamweight champion once again. He then defended the title successfully against Urijah Faber. Cruz would go on to lose the title to Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207.

After that loss, Cruz would remain out of action for three and a half years. Cruz returned last May to fight Henry Cejudo for the title at UFC 249. Cruz was finished in the second round and contemplated retirement.

However, he decided to give fighting another chance. He returned Saturday to take on Casey Kenney (16-3-1) at UFC 259. While it wasn’t the most high profile fight, it was a dangerous one. Cruz looked great in his return and was able to pickup the decision victory.

What’s next after UFC 259?

This past Saturday saw Dominick Cruz win for the first time since June of 2016. It was a massive win for Cruz and now The Dominator appears focused on another run at the UFC bantamweight title.

With the win, you should expect to see Cruz against someone in the top ten next. There are two fights that I would love to see for Dominick Cruz. The first fight is against Frankie Edgar (24-9-1).

Edgar is coming off of a brutal knockout loss to Cory Sandhagen. However, if Edgar would’ve won that fight, he would’ve been next in line for a title shot. The matchup between the two legends would be a lot of fun and it makes sense according to the UFC rankings.

Another fun matchup would be Cruz against Jose Aldo (29-7). Aldo is currently ranked near the top of the division and he’s coming off of a win against Chito Vera. This matchup of former champions is one that fans wanted to see years ago when Aldo dominated 145 and Cruz dominated 135.

I could easily see the UFC putting these two legends together in a fight next. Really, either of those options makes sense for Dominick Cruz. While we don’t know exactly what’s next, we know that Dominick Cruz is back.

Henry Cejudo teases UFC comeback on ESPN

Is the King of Cringe coming back to the UFC? Former Olympic Gold Medalist and two-division world champion, Henry Cejudo (16-2), is once again teasing a return to the octagon. This time, he teased the news on ESPN.

Cejudo appeared on ESPN’s SportsNation this morning where he talked about the bantamweight division. Of course, a lot of the conversation centered around UFC 259. The event’s bantamweight title match ended in controversy with Aljamain Sterling (20-3) becoming champion by disqualification.

Petr Yan (15-2) looked like he was well on his way to retaining his bantamweight title. However, with 30 seconds left in the fourth round, Yan launched a knee that hit Sterling flush. The problem was that Sterling’s knee was still on the ground so the strike was illegal.

Sterling was unable to continue and ultimately he walked away as the new UFC bantamweight champion. The promotion has come out and said that the rematch will happen as soon as possible. 

Cejudo acknowledged that he believes the UFC will do the rematch with Yan and Sterling next. However, Cejudo then said that he would like to line up both Yan and Sterling and beat them both. He signed off the interview by saying, “Triple C’s coming back, what’s up!”

UFC return for Henry Cejudo?

The last time we saw Henry Cejudo was back at UFC 249 when he finished Dominick Cruz in the second round. It was the first successful title defense of his bantamweight title. After the fight was over, Cejudo announced that he was walking away from the sport on top.

Cejudo has a case for the most decorated combat sports athlete in history. He’s a two-division UFC champion and he won an Olympic Gold Medal in freestyle wrestling. He’s also only 34 years old which means he has plenty of career left if he wants to come back.

From 2018 – 2020, it’s hard to put on a run like Henry Cejudo did. First, he defeated Demetrious Johnson to become the UFC’s flyweight champion. Then, he knocked out TJ Dillashaw in seconds when Dillashaw was trying to become a two-division champion.

From there, he stopped both Marlon Moraes to win and Dominick Cruz to defend the UFC bantamweight championship. It was truly something special and it was enough where Cejudo felt comfortable walking away.

However, Cejudo has constantly been teasing a return. The UFC’s bantamweight division is in a very interesting spot at the moment. Throwing back in Henry Cejudo could make things even more interesting. This will definitely be something to watch.

NASCAR: Three takeaways from Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas Motor Speedway did not disappoint, seeing 27 lead changes en route to a Kyle Larson victory. It was one of the more entertaining races at Las Vegas in recent history, seeing intense restarts and overall good racing. Here are three takeaways from the fourth NASCAR Cup Series event of the season:

Four races, four winners

The Cup Series continued the trend of a new winner each week as it was Kyle Larson taking home the checkered flag. Although it was his 7th career victory, it was his first since 2019 at Dover. Before the Las Vegas race, Michael McDowell and Christopher Bell picked up their first career victories while William Byron won his second career race last weekend. The underdog trend continued once again.

Although Bell, Byron, and Larson were all expected to make the playoffs, them being locked in this early adds a wrinkle into the season. A quarter of the available playoff spots have already been secured, putting more pressure on some of the bigger names like Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, and Joey Logano to get a win.

Blaney, Busch bounce back

After rough starts to the season, both Ryan Blaney and Kyle Busch had bounce-back performances on Sunday in Las Vegas. Both drivers finished in the top-5 for the first time this season with Blaney picking up some stage points along the way. Blaney hadn’t finished better than 15th before Las Vegas, while Busch had finished 10th last weekend at Homestead-Miami.

Both Blaney and Busch needed strong finishes to boost their points position, and they each did so. The drivers now sit in the top-16 of points, which are inside the playoff cut line.

DiBenedetto continues to struggle

Once again, Matt DiBenedetto continued his streak of bad luck, finishing 16th in Las Vegas. He had a top-5 run going before his final pitstop, where the air gun broke while changing the front left tire. The team was forced to leave the left front tire on for another run, leading to DiBenedetto having to baby the tire to make sure it didn’t blow. His having to baby the tire led to him falling out of contention.

While 16th is their best finish of the season, it’s nowhere what’s expected of the team. DiBenedetto essentially drives Penske cars, meaning top-10s are expected of him. However, he has gotten caught up in wrecks and bad luck in each of their four races and sits 30th in points. Despite that, the No. 21 team sits just 52 points out of a playoff spot, and good races at Phoenix and Atlanta could put him back in the playoff picture.

State of the bantamweight division after UFC 259

UFC 259 was supposed to provide some clarity in the bantamweight division. While Petr Yan (15-2) was the champion, many questioned how legit he was as the champion seeing as the two wins he had leading to the title came against Urijah Faber and Jose Aldo (29-7).

While both are great former champions, neither are considered to be the cream of the crop at 135 pounds. Aljamain Sterling (20-3) on the other hands was considered by everyone to be the number one contender.

Sterling had been on an incredible run and was expected to be the biggest challenge for Yan. Had Yan defeated Sterling, you couldn’t question the legitimacy of his title reign. Well, for almost four rounds at UFC 259, it looked like we were heading that direction.

Aljamain Sterling was putting up a good fight, but Petr Yan was in control on Saturday night. Sterling was fading badly and it looked like we were getting close to a potential Petr Yan stoppage win. However, that’s when chaos erupted.

With about 30 seconds left in the fourth round, Aljamain Sterling was grounded with one knee on the floor. Yan looked to his corner for instructions and someone said he was good to throw a knee. Yan launched a knee that hit Sterling flush in the temple.

That knee ultimately prevented Sterling from being able to continue. As a result, Yan was disqualified and Sterling won the title. While Sterling was on his way to losing, he gets a DQ win and walked out of UFC 259 the bantamweight champion.

State of the UFC’s bantamweight division

With all of this controversy, Dana White said that the UFC will immediately book the rematch between Sterling and Yan. While Sterling has the title, there’s virtually no one that views him as the champion with him winning in that fashion.

To me, it’s almost like the title is vacant. I don’t think either man should have the title at the moment, but my opinion doesn’t matter. Sterling will go into the rematch with Yan as the bantamweight champion.

With that rematch in the works, the UFC will now look to book Cory Sandhagen (14-2) against former champion, TJ Dillashaw (16-4). Dillashaw is eligible to fight now that he’s off suspension and Dana White said he would be in a title eliminator in his first fight back.

Considering the spots in the division, it appears that Dillashaw and Sandhagen are on a collision course. The next spot in the rankings belongs to Rob Font (18-4). In my opinion, I would love to see Font fight former UFC champion, Cody Garbrandt (12-3) next.

However, Garbrandt has been chasing a fight with Jose Aldo next. If that happens, Font will need a new fight. Based on the rankings, the only fight that would make sense for Font is Pedro Munhoz (19-5, 1 NC).

Munhoz is in the top ten and he’s coming off of a very impressive win against Jimmie Rivera. Prior to that he lost a debatable decision to Frankie Edgar. Had that decision gone towards Munhoz, he’d be in the top five right now. The promotion will get these guys paired up and it should be an exciting 2021 at 135.

Yankees’ star reliever reveals he had COVID-19 in January: ‘I lost a good amount of weight’

New York Yankees, Zack Britton

The New York Yankees have a deep bullpen, which was further solidified with the signings of Darren O’Day and Justin Wilson. However, few relievers are as trustworthy as Zack Britton, a left-handed with the ability to get groundballs at an elite rate and still miss his fair share of bats.

He often looks superhuman on the mound, getting some of the best sluggers in the game to hit the ball in the ground, where it leads to better outcomes for the pitcher (it is a statistical fact.) Yet, as indestructible as he looks in games, he struggled mightily with a bout of COVID-19 back in the winter, specifically in January.

In fact, the Yankees’ top reliever has been held out of action during spring training, and it is because he struggled with coronavirus.

The Yankees’ bullpen stalwart had a really bad time

In fact, it was Dan Martin of the New York Post the one that initially reported the news, and the talented lefty told the writer that “it hit me pretty good.”

“I lost a good amount of weight. Physically, I’m all good now but trying to be smart,” Britton said in an email to the aforementioned paper.

The Yankees, seeing that Britton’s experience with COVID-19 was more than troublesome, decided to take things slow with the reliever and are taking their time with him, making sure he is well-recovered from the disease.

Despite the slow progress, the New York Yankees do expect Britton to be ready to go from Opening Day. So far, Britton has taken part in drills.

Another Yankees’ player that had a case of COVID-19 in the winter was Gio Urshela, who had to deal with elbow surgery on top of that. He is now back on the field and playing his customary third base.

New York Giants retain TE Levine Toilolo on restructured contract, but why?

New York Giants, Levine Toilolo

The New York Giants desperately need to cut bait with several players as they try to open up enough cap space to re-sign some of their impending free agents.

The organization wants to retain Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson, so saving as much money as possible is likely the goal ahead of free agency. However, the Giants made one interesting move on Monday afternoon, electing to restructure tight end Levine Toilolo’s contract.

Toilolo was expected to earn $2.95 million for the 2021 season. If they were to cut him, he would count zero dead money, so they would’ve saved the entirety of his contract. Instead, he restructured down significantly, and we can only imagine it was near the minimum. If he agreed to such a deal, releasing him would’ve only saved an incremental amount of money, given the top 51 cut off. Last season, Toilolo recorded just five receptions for 46 yards and played in just 27% of offensive snaps.

However, he was predominantly featured on special teams, playing in 38% of snaps. At the end of the day, saving as much money as possible would’ve indicated releasing Toilolo, so unless they brought his cap number down to the bare minimum, this deal doesn’t make much sense. We’ll find out the restructured contract in the near future, but for now, this one is a head-scratcher.