New York Giants: Physical could hold up agreed deal with Kyle Rudolph

New York Giants, Quest Diagnostics training center

The news of the New York Giants coming to a deal with Kyle Rudolph made it seem like it was official that the tight end was signed, but that wasn’t the case. Most of the time, a player undergoing a physical exam is just done for procedural reasons and you can assume a player will sign if they’ve already made it to that stage. Sometimes, though, the physical actually comes up with something that was missed before. And this can throw a wrench into things.

It appears this is what happened to the Giants, who found something that they don’t like in Rudolph’s physical according to Mike Garafolo.

That problem has to do with Rudolph’s foot. The team believes that the player will need surgery on his foot and it looks like that might change their interest – or at least, it might change the deal that they’re willing to give him. Previously, Rudolph was reported as having come to terms with a two year deal with the Giants.

It’s easy to see why the team might have more leverage than Rudolph here considering how they already have Evan Engram as a starting tight end and Rudolph is being added for further depth. Considering this, they may not want to pay him as much knowing that he has a possible surgery coming up that could impact his performance on the field.

Not much has come out yet about how this will impact the deal but the matter is seemingly being discussed by both sides. It’s entirely possible that we’ll still see the deal go through – but maybe with terms updated to reflect the situation.

New York Jets sign Buffalo Bills LB Del’Shawn Phillips

New York Jets

Phillips, a former JUCO star, joins the New York Jets after making his NFL debut with an AFC East rival last season.

The New York Jets announced the signing of linebacker Del’Shawn Phillips on Tuesday. Phillips comes over their AFC East rival Buffalo Bills, who waived him on January 19.

Phillips, 24, made his NFL regulars season debut last season through two games with the Bills, ironically making his debut against the Jets during the teams’ get-together in Week 1. Alas for Phillips, a quadriceps injury limited to only one other game in November. All 14 of his snaps came on special teams.

The Buffalo arrival was the latest step on Phillips’ most unusual journey to the NFL. He was originally committed to Western Michigan’s football team (set to join fellow new Jet Corey Davis) but was ruled academically ineligible. After a year away from the game, Phillips joined up with Garden City Community College in Kansas. He’d pick up seven sacks in his freshman season and earned 95 tackles the following year as the Broncbusters topped Arizona Western College to capture the NJCAA National Championship.

Phillips later saw his Division I dreams realized through a new chance at Illinois. He would go on to tally 180 tackles, including 10 for a loss and 2.5 sacks, in two seasons. During his senior campaign, Phillips was tied for second in the Big Ten with a quartet of interceptions. Phillips also held defensive captaincy honors during his final season in 2018.

Though Phillips was undrafted after his time in Champaign, he joined up with the Atlanta Falcons during the 2019 preseason, earning 21 tackles and a pair of fumble recoveries over five exhibitions (including the Hall of Fame Game). He was part of Atlanta’s final cuts, but was signed to the Bills’ practice squad just over a month later.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Randle, Knicks vent ire on hapless Wizards as trade deadline looms

Coming off four straight games that went down to the last possession—losing three of them—Julius Randle and the New York Knicks left nothing to chance on Tuesday night.

Randle’s day started with a $15,000 fine for his sharp criticism of the officiating. It ended with a 37-point performance that fueled the Knicks’ surgical 131-113 win over a hapless Washington Wizards team.

Randle set the tone early, firing 12 in the opening quarter. By halftime, he already had 21 points, and the Knicks sat on a huge 20-point cushion.

The Knicks vented their frustrations on the Wizards after a frustrating last week that culminated in a one-point overtime loss to Eastern Conference leader Philadelphia 76ers.

In that heartbreaker, Randle, a first-time All-Star, blew his top after he was whistled for a loose ball foul that doomed the Knicks.

Two days later, Courtney Kirkland was back as the crew chief, but Randle and the Knicks made sure they wouldn’t leave the outcome at the referees’ whistles.

Thibodeau challenged a call early in the game, overacting his hand gesture. He lost the challenge, but he delivered his message after Kirkland said the Knicks coach was late to challenge the crucial call on Randle last Sunday.

Randle came back with a vengeance and shot 7 for 10 from deep. He scored in a variety of lefty moves and even had all of his 21 first-half points from the court’s left side.

“I think the statement was ‘the win was the most important thing.’ [Randle] has done that a number of times to bounce back after a tough loss—the way in which we lost the game. That’s what leaders do,” Thibodeau said of Randle’s performance.

Randle outplayed the Wizards’ All-Star, Bradley Beal, who only had 22 points way below his league-leading 32.1-point average. Beal was a game-worst minus-20 in the game.

Both All-Stars had a little exchange in the third quarter, and Randle had to be restrained after the buzzer, with the Knicks leading comfortably, 108-80.

Sophomore wingman RJ Barrett continued to make a leap this season. He played as facilitator compiling five assists with 21 points, five boards, and two blocks.

New York’s tough defense smothered Russell Westbrook and forced him to shoot 3-for-14 from the field. Westbrook, though issued 12 assists but was a second-worst minus-17 in the game.

Six players scored in double figures for the Knicks.

Mitchell Robinson has his best game since his return from a fractured right hand.

The 23-year old center was catching lobs left and right. Robinson was a dominant force inside and finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds, and three shot blocks.

Alec Burks had his third straight 20-point game. Reggie Bullock, who was questionable to return after sustaining a sprained ankle midway, came back and ended up with 10 points.

Rookie spitfire Immanuel Quickley went back to the bench and returned to his efficient scoring ways with 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting and three triples.

The Knicks will face the Wizards again on Thursday, the last day teams can make a trade.

Multiple reports have signaled the Knicks are reluctant to offer assets and shake the boat, afraid of disrupting the current team’s chemistry. Only Austin Rivers, who was out of the rotation since Derrick Rose’s arrival, is likely to be traded or bought out.

But between now and Thursday, that’s plenty of time for everything to change when an offer too good to pass up comes along.

Against teams outside each conference’s top-10 like the Wizards, the Knicks look like a playoff-caliber team with a 12-5 record. But despite hanging with some of the title contenders, the Knicks have a losing record (10-17) against top-10 teams.

Randle’s leadership and Thibodeau’s coaching could only do so much.

For the first time in a long while, the Knicks are a .500 team at the trade deadline.

The Knicks’ front office is burning the lines but at the same time wrestling with a big decision that could make or break the team.

Randle didn’t leave tonight’s outcome to chance. It’s the turn of team president Leon Rose and the Knicks front office to ensure they are equipped not to blow their playoff chance.

The clock is ticking.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

UFC booking Jennifer Maia – Jessica Eye

The UFC is in the process of finalizing a pivotal matchup between two top ten women’s flyweight contenders. Two former title challengers will be going head-to-head as Jennifer Maia (18-7-1) will be taking on Jessica “Evil” Eye (15-9, 1 NC).

MMA Fighting was first to report that the UFC was booking this flyweight matchup. The fight between the two top ten contenders will take place on the July 10th card which is rumored to be the Conor McGregor – Dustin Poirier 3 card.

Jennifer Maia will be making her return after her failed attempt to become flyweight champion at UFC 255. Maia took on the undisputed flyweight queen, Valentina Shevchenko, and she was one of the biggest betting underdogs in history.

However, early on in the fight, Maia showed that she belonged. While Maia ultimately lost the fight by a wide margin, she dominated Shevchenko in the second round at UFC 255. Considering Shevchenko has looked invincible at 125 pounds, dominating a round against her is extremely impressive.

Prior to that fight, Maia had defeated JoJo Calderwood. Calderwood was actually set to challenge Shevchenko for the UFC title last June. However, a knee injury to Shevchenko pushed the fight back. Calderwood took a fight against Maia instead and Maia finished her in the first round.

UFC moment of truth for Evil Eye

We just saw Jessica Eye back at UFC 257 when she took on JoJo Calderwood. Calderwood was able to outpoint Eye and walk away with the decision victory. The loss dropped Jessica Eye to just 1-3 in her last four fights.

A few years ago, Eye was on the verge of getting cut by the UFC. She had gone 1-5 in the bantamweight division and was a crossroads in her career. That is when she dropped to 125 pounds and won three straight to earn herself a UFC title shot.

Eye was destroyed by Valentina Shevchenko and she really hasn’t been the same sense. At this time last year, Jessica Eye was the top ranked flyweight contender in the UFC. Now, she’s dropped down to eighth. If she loses to Maia on July 10th, it’s going to be quite the mountain to try and climb back to the top.

Jared Harper named to All-NBA G League First team but still long shot to crack Knicks rotation

New York Knicks’ two-way player Jared Harper was named to the 2021 All-NBA G League First Team on Tuesday.

Harper joined NBA G League Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year Paul Reed of the Delaware Blue Coats, Oklahoma City Blue center Moses Brown, Lakeland Magic forward Mamadi Diakite, and Rio Grande Valley Vipers guard Kevin Porter Jr. in the selection.

Brown and Porter Jr. parlayed their outstanding G League performance to a significant role with their respective NBA mother clubs Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets.

On the other hand, the 5-foot-10 Harper’s chances of cracking the Knicks’ rotation is slim to none despite a stellar G League campaign.

Harper led the Westchester Knicks, New York’s affiliate team, to a 7-8 record in the G League bubble while leading the team in scoring, assists, and minutes. He made history by becoming Westchester’s first-ever recipient of the award, the highest nod a player has received in franchise history.

Harper finished fourth in the league in scoring with 21.3 points per game on 47.3 percent shooting. He had a pair of 30-point performances, including a career-high 35 points in the Knicks’ season finale win against Erie Bayhawks.

Harper also ended up as the second-best passer in the G League this season with 6.9 assists per game. He eclipsed the 10-assist mark four times this season, topped by a 13-assist showing against Fort Wayne, which tied his career-high.

The former Auburn star who went undrafted in 2019 also showed his impeccable marksmanship averaging 2.4 three-pointers made per game (third-best on the team) on a 40.3-percent clip.

Harper has appeared in garbage time in two New York Knicks games this season, totaling five minutes and two points.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Knicks’ Randle fined $15K for ‘fu***ing ridiculous’ postgame rant

The NBA fined New York Knicks All-Star forward Julius Randle $15,000 for directing inappropriate language toward a game official and his public criticism of the officiating, the league said in a statement on Tuesday.

Randle’s beef with the officials stemmed from the critical loose ball foul called on him with 5.3 seconds left in their 101-100 overtime loss to the Philadelphia 76ers last Sunday.

The Knicks were holding a slim 100-99 lead when Randle was hit with the foul that led to Harris’ two free throws sealing the Knicks’ second straight loss to the 76ers in the same week.

“Blown call by the officials. Not enough contact for them to call the play. Nerlens (Noel), clearly he had possession. After all the fouling and everything that was going on for them to call that and decide the game is f—ing ridiculous. It’s ridiculous! They’ve got to do a better job. There are too many games like this,” Randle said in an explosive postgame interview.

The Knicks tried to challenge the call but fell on deaf ears. Crew chief Courtney Kirkland later explained that Tom Thibodeau was late in challenging the call.

“They said we didn’t challenge. Two officials. Tough calls. That’s all I’m going to say about it,” Thibodeau said postgame.

The NBA’s Last Two Minute report upheld the loose ball foul and confirmed Kirkland’s statement.

Randle and the Knicks will be looking to move on from the incident as they host the lowly Washington Wizards at 7:30 p.m. tonight at The Garden.

Kirkland will return as the crew chief in tonight’s game.

The Knicks have lost four of their first six games since the All-Star break. Three of those losses came at the hands of the Eastern Conference’s top two teams—Philadelphia and Brooklyn Nets—by an average of three points.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Mets: Lindor Hits Fourth Homer in Five Games During 5-3 Win

The New York Mets are getting exactly what they traded for with Francisco Lindor‘s production this spring. Lindor has his best game of spring training by recording three hits, including his fourth home run. His strong game helped propel the Mets to a 5-3 victory over the Miami Marlins.

Marcus Stroman got the start and scattered nine hits over five innings. He was tagged for two home runs, but the umpires bailed Stroman out both times. Starling Marte‘s double hit the chain-link fence behind the right field wall and bounced back in play. Brian Anderson hit a towering shot over the left field foul pole that was called a foul ball. Instead of a three-run homer, Anderson struck out to end the inning instead.

In the third inning, Adam Duvall‘s sacrifice fly gave the Marlins their first run. Miguel Rojas recorded the final two runs with his two-run homer in the fifth inning as Stroman limped to the finish line. The quartet of Jacob Barnes, Aaron Loup, Trevor May, and Tommy Hunter finished the game with four hitless innings.

After Marlins starter Daniel Castano retired the first six batters he faced, the Mets came out swinging in the third inning. Triples from Kevin Pillar and Brandon Nimmo led to the first run of the inning. Francisco Lindor’s double drove in Nimmo, and a sharp single from Pete Alonso capped off the three-run third. Lindor’s fifth inning homer put the Mets in the lead, and another homer from J.D. Davis in the sixth gave their fifth run.

On Wednesday, Taijuan Walker (1-0, 3.00) takes the mound against the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter. The offense gets another opportunity to afflict more damage on Carlos Martinez (0-2, 10.03) and his ERA as he starts for the Cards.

New York Yankees Recap: Yankees get 3 home runs in a tie with the Tigers

Mike Tauchman, New York Yankees

Today the New York Yankees traveled a few miles northeast to Lakeland, Florida, to meet up with the Detroit Tigers at Joker Merchant Stadium. The Tiger’s starter was Tarik Skabul, and for the New York Yankees, it was Corey Kluber in his third start of the spring; so far, he had an ERA of 3.00. The game was played under mostly sunny skies, with a game-time temperature of a perfect 72 degrees.

Mike Tauchman led off for the Yankees against Skabul. The T-man couldn’t do better; he had a leadoff home run to center. Luke Voit walked. Clint Frazier followed, who tapped into a force-out, Voit out at second. Frazier was picked off. Dietrich walked. Higashioka struck out to end the half. Yankees 1 Tigers 0. Corey Kluber took the mound, and Grossman walked on five pitches. Grossman advanced on a wild pitch. Mazara struck out swinging. W.Castro singled driving in Grossman. Castro stole second. Cabrera flew out, but Castro reached third. Schoop walked, and H.Castro struck out. Kluber had a rough inning where he didn’t have good command. He threw 30 pitches. Yankees 1 Tigers 1.

At the top of the second, Tyler Wade got an infield single. LaMarre singled Wade to third. Velazquez struck out, but LaMarre stole second. Allen flew out, but Wade scored. Tauchman, who homered in the first singled. With Voit hitting, LaMaree was caught stealing home. Yankees 2 Tigers 1. At the bottom, Ramos flew out to the warning track. Garcia popped out. Hill lined to third, but Dietrich overthrew Voit, lifting him off the plate for a double. Grossman flew out for a quick inning for Kluber. Yankees 2 Tigers 1.

At the top of the 3rd, Voit resumed his at-bat and walked. Frazier popped out to second. Both Dietrich and Higashioka popped out as well for the quick Skubal half. Mazara against Kluber walked. W.Castro flew out. Cabrera struck out, Schoop struck out for Klubers 4th strikeout of the game.

Tyler Wade led off the New York Yankee 4th. He singled sharply to left. LaMarre walked, two on no outs. Velazquez called out on strikes, and Wade called out at third. Allen flew out to left to end the half.  Kluber out for the fourth allowed H.Castro single to left. Ramos popped into a double play. Kluber was removed from the game with 68 pitches, replaced by Nick Nelson. Garcia struck out to end the inning. Yankees 2 Tigers 1.

Tauchman walked on Skubal, who had five walks in the game. Cisnero replaced him. Voit ground to short, Tauchman out as second as Voit reaches. Frazier flew out for the second out. Dietrich walked. Higashioka walked to load the bases with two outs. Wade flew out, leaving 3 Yankees on base. Hill struck out against Nelson. Grossman struck out, and Mazara lined out to end the inning. Yankees 2 Tigers 1.

Greg Soto struck out LaMarre to start the sixth. Velazquez struck out, and Allen flew out to Rojas, who made a flat-out slide ending the half. Nelson out for his third inning, W.Castro hit a triple to far right. Cabrera walked, Schoop hit into a double play, but W. Castro scored. H.Castro lined out to second. Yankees 2 Tigers 2.

Tauchman leading off the 7th. walked, he was on base all four times. Garcia replaced Soto. His first pitch hit Luke Voit, Florial took his place at first. Voit flew out to far left, and Tauchman went to third. A wild pitch allowed the T-Man to score. Yankees 3 Tigers 2. At the top of the eighth Greg Allen and Chris Gittens hit back to back home runs for the New York Yankee 5-2 lead.

At the bottom of the eighth with Nick Goody on the mound, Reyes and Cameron singled. Short struck out. Erik Haase hit a long home run over the left-field fence driving in three runs to tie the score up at 5 runs apiece. H.Castro walked. Rogers was hit by a pitch. With two on Gracia flew out to close out the eighth inning. Yankees 5 Tigers 5.

In spring training there are no extra innings so if neither team scores in the ninth the game will end in a tie. At the top Rob Brantly ground out. Tyler Wade ground out to short. Ezequiel Duran singled. Velazquez flew out to center ending the Yankee’s ability to break the tie. At the bottom of the ninth, the New York Yankees sent Brooks Kriske to hold down the Tigers. Hill struck out, Reyes walked on four pitches. Cameron batting Reyes stole second. Cameron struck out. Reyes went to third on a wild pitch. Short walked and stole second. Haase lined out ending the game in a 5-5 tie.

 

 

 

New York Yankees: It’s time to move on from Tyler Wade

New York Yankees, Tyler Wade

Coming into Spring Training, it was expected that Tyler Wade would assume the role of the New York Yankees utility man. His speed and ability to play both infield and outfield made the team high on him despite his poor hitting. However, things could potentially be changing for the 26-year-old. Wade has struggled this spring and hasn’t shown any improvement on the offensive end since his debut in 2017. Could this potentially be the end of the road for Wade?

Fortunately for him, his competitors for the utility role haven’t performed well either. However, manager Aaron Boone said earlier in Spring Training that he wants experience on his roster. Wade doesn’t have a ton of MLB experience, but eight-year veteran Derek Dietrich does.

Dietrich gives the Yankees lefty power, something the team really lacks. A guy like Tyler Wade doesn’t have home run power, but can put balls in the gap for doubles. Three of his seven hits this spring are for extra bases. Dietrich has had stronger power numbers in the last few seasons, even putting up an OPS greater than .800 in 2020 despite a sub-.200 batting average.

As mentioned earlier, the downside of having Dietrich over Wade is speed and defense. Altough Dietrich can play second, third, and left field, he isn’t a strong defender nor very fast. If the team had greater roster space, both players would be assets to the MLB team, but it doesn’t seem plausible to carry both right now. The team would rather carry another pitcher over a back-up infielder.

A third player in the equation is Thairo Estrada. In 23 Spring Training plate appearance, his OPS is below .600, giving him a very low chance to make the team. Similarly to Wade, Estrada is fast and versatile but lacks a lot of offense. He does, however, have more pop in his bat compared to Wade.

So, by the looks of it, Derek Dietrich could be on the MLB roster to open up the 2021 season. The only problem is that the Yankees 40-man roster is full, meaning the team would have to clear space to sign him to a MLB contract. In addition to Dietrich, Jay Bruce is seemingly in a similar position, as he’s had a strong Spring Training and in position to make the team.

The Yankees will have tough decisions if they want to keep both Dietrich and Bruce on the team. One name that comes to mind as to who could be moved is Mike Tauchman. Tauchman bat just .208 with a .698 OPS this spring and could be on his way out. He struggled last season as well, but if the Yankees were to place him on waivers, it shouldn’t take long for him to be picked up by a team.

Another name who could be on the move is Mike Ford. He’s just 3-for-23 this spring, and is coming off a disappointing 2020 campaign that saw him go 7-of-36.

The Yankees could also consider moving on from Tyler Wade completely. He has a minor league option remaining, however, a change of scenery could be what’s best for him. If he were to have an opportunity with a rebuilding franchise, it could be his best chance to make a serious major league career. The way he’s going with the Yankees, he’ll never get the opportunity he truly desires.

Wade is entering the prime of this career, and he certainly doesn’t want to spend it on the Yankees bench or in AAA. DJ LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, meaning Wade will never get an extended starting opportunity in New York. Moving on from Wade will give Derek Dietrich a shot with the Yankees and allow for Wade to have an opportunity with another team.

After his big win at UFC Vegas 22, what’s next for Derek Brunson?

Derek Brunson

This past Saturday at UFC Vegas 22, Derek Brunson (22-7) was once again tasked with taking on a promotional hype train. This time, the hype train was that of Kevin Holland (21-6). Holland was on the shortlist for male fighter of the year in 2020 after going 5-0.

Derek Brunson has been with the UFC for a very long time. He’s also been one of the more consistent fighters at middleweight over the last several years. Brunson has only lost to the very best that middleweight has to offer.

When a contender defeats Derek Brunson, they are well on their way to either being a UFC champion or challenging for a title. Israel Adesanya, Robert Whittaker, and Yoel Romero are the best examples.

However, since Brunson seems to lose to the elite of the elite at middleweight, the UFC has unofficially given him this gate keeper status. Last August, Brunson took on Edmen Shahbazyan. Shahbazyan was supposed to be the next big thing, but Brunson finished him.

As a reward, the UFC gave Brunson the next hype train in Kevin Holland. Holland’s precision striking looked like it was going to be an issue for Brunson. At times on Saturday night, it was. However, at the end of the day, Brunson went out and grinded out a dominant decision and once again derailed a hype train.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 22?

Now that Brunson has derailed two consecutive hype trains, what will the UFC give him next? In his post-fight interview, Brunson made a callout and it’s actually one that makes a lot of sense in my opinion.

Brunson used his moment in the spotlight to challenge Paulo Costa (13-1). Costa recently had to pull out of his upcoming main event against Robert Whittaker due to an illness. At the moment, there’s not a timetable for his return.

However, if he’s able to return in the summer, the UFC should set this fight up. Costa is coming off of a title fight loss and Brunson is on a winning streak. Costa wants to get back on track and Brunson wants to prove he can challenge for the title. To me, it’s the perfect matchup to setup.