Walker Get Heated, Mets Offense Goes Cold in Chilly Loss to Cubs 3-1

New York Mets, Luis Rojas

The New York Mets are no strangers to ugly weather this season, but that does not mean they get used to it. Taijuan Walker started strong but did not have a happy finish at the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. Walker threw 3.2 hitless innings but failed to make it out of the fourth inning after allowing two singles and three consecutive walks. He needed 91 pitches in his outing and was thrown out in the 3-1 loss.

While Walker failed to make it through the fourth inning, his demise began in the third inning. The first of two errors from J.D. Davis allowed the first Cubs’ run to score on a straightforward play. Davis made two mistakes on the play: first, letting the ground ball come to him instead of charging it and then double clutching on the throw, which has become a bad habit. Simple mistakes like these were habits Davis needed to quit to be an adequate third baseman, and it happened again on his second error.

Walker Loses The Zone

When Walker gave up three consecutive walks, they all went to a full count, and a few tough calls did not go in his favor. The stressful at-bats and frustrating inning made Walker leave the mound bursting with anger. He took it out on home plate umpire John Libka, who, in all fairness, had a very questionable strike zone. Manager Luis Rojas also got the boot in the sixth inning due to Libka’s inconsistent zone. In total, Walker threw 3.2 innings, allowed just two hits but walked six.

Even if Walker pitched adequately, there was no offense to support him. Davis’s solo home run was all the Mets could scratch across against Cubs starter Jake Arrieta. He was not unhittable but found ways to keep the Mets from putting up a crooked number. Arrieta allowed one run, three hits, and walked three over five innings pitched.

Their best scoring chance came against closer Craig Kimbrel in the ninth with one out and the bases loaded. Brandon Nimmo struck out, and Francisco Lindor grounded out to leave the tying and winning runs on base. They left 10 runners on base and went just 1-for-6 w/RISP. The biggest positive is from their bullpen, who threw 4.1 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits.

The Mets look to start a new winning streak on Wednesday when David Peterson takes the bump against Zach Davies. The first pitch from Wrigley Field is at 7:40 p.m. ET.

Barrett’s explosion keys Knicks’ 7th straight win

new york knicks, nyk, rj barrett

Just as when the law of averages seemed to have caught up with the New York Knicks, they still found a way to extend the league’s current longest winning streak.

The Knicks entered Tuesday night’s game on a roll with sixth straight wins and the league’s top 3-point defense. But the Charlotte Hornets posed a significant challenge in the first half, hitting 13-of-19 three-pointers.

Then the Knicks tightened up the loose ends on their defense in the second half and rode on RJ Barrett’s explosion to repel the Hornets, 109-97, Tuesday night at The Garden for their seventh straight win.

Tom Thibodeau made the necessary adjustments, and the result was disastrous for the Hornets, who were a measly 3-for-20 from beyond the arc in the second half.

“I thought our defense in the second half was much better. We contained the dribble drive better. We made a better effort. We moved down on the fly with the ball. We challenged shots,” Thibodeau said.

After a torrid stretch that earned him his first NBA Player of the Week award, Julius Randle cooled off as he was the focal point of the Hornets defense. But Randle did plenty of other stuff to impact the game.

Randle set up Barrett for consecutive three-point shots to get going in the third quarter. Barrett, who missed seven in a row in the first half after his first basket, keyed New York’s turnaround.

Barrett took over in the third quarter and outscored the entire Hornets team, 18-16, as the Knicks built a nine-point lead.

The sophomore wing was a perfect 4-of-4 from 3 in that pivotal period and finished with 24 points to pace the Knicks. He had a career-high-tying six threes.

PJ Washington, who smoked the Knicks with 21 points off the bench in the first half, led the Hornets with 26.

With Barrett on fire, the Knicks turned a six-point halftime deficit into a 91-82 lead, which they never relinquished.

“That’s what Julius has done all year. He didn’t score the ball like he usually does, but he made plays for us, and he has great awareness of what’s going on in the game. He gets people going,” Thibodeau said.

RJ, in the second half, got a great rhythm going. He’s been shooting the 3 great for us. He gotta continue to do that. But Julius can beat you a lot in different ways. He can beat you with the pass, with his rebounding, with his post-ups, shooting the 3, going off the dribble.”

After averaging 35.8 points in his last four games, Randle was held down to 16 on 5-for-16 shooting by the Hornets’ defense. But the Knicks’ All-Star forward added 10 rebounds, seven assists, and two steals.

Reggie Bullock, who hit the overtime-sending triple in their previous win, kept it going with 16 points on five triples. 

Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson combined for 10 points, 19 rebounds, and four blocks as they split the minutes at center.

Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley each had 17 points off the bench for the Knicks, who moved five games over .500 (32-27) for the first time this season and to solo fifth in the Eastern Conference.

They can knock the Atlanta Hawks (32-26) from their perch and grab solo fourth if they beat them tomorrow in an all-important matchup.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Giants: Wayne Gallman gets visit with San Francisco 49ers

New York Giants, Wayne Gallman

Wayne Gallman ended up playing a larger than expected role for the New York Giants last season. He was off the radar of just about everyone going into the season, but after Saquon Barkley was quickly taken out for the year, the Giants tried multiple running backs to replace him. It took them some time to find their man, but Gallman came out on top in the end and took the majority of the playing time at running back.

However, the Giants had to make some sacrifices because of the salary cap and Gallman is one of the players the team is moving on from. His contract is up after joining the Giants in 2017 and it looks like Gallman is going to get a payday with another team after having the best year of his career.

The team that might pick him up is the 49ers. The team is hosting Gallman for a visit and will have more money to spend compared to the Giants, as one of the top teams picking in this year’s draft. The 49ers are further back when it comes to the rebuilding process, and can afford to give Gallman the paycheck that the Giants can’t.

Gallman is coming off his best statistical season by far after he had 682 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns in 15 games – only 10 of those games were starts, owing to Gallman taking some time before getting into the main starting role.

As for the Giants, it remains to be seen who their number one backup will be this season. However, the hope is they won’t have to use a backup as much. With Saquon Barkley recovering from injury and expected to return in week 1, the franchise will want him on the field as much as possible in 2021.

New York Yankees Recap: Atlanta Braves fall to the 8th inning rally by the Yankees

New York Yankees, Gio Urshela

Tonight the New York Yankees hoped to turn around their season while meeting the Atlanta Braves in a short two-game series. The Yankees have gotten off to a languid start going 5-10 with some pretty sloppy play in the last few games. They were coming off a sweep by the Tampa Bay Rays. Tonight, Jameson Taillon was hoping for a rebound facing the Braves. Charlie Morton, a pitcher, the Yankees, were all too familiar with. He pitched for both the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays most recently, but now he is an Atlanta Brave.  The Yankees won the game 3-1.

Taillon took the mound at the top of the first and faced Ehire Adrianza, who struck out. Freddie Freeman singled off Taillon. Marcell Ozuna gound out to Torres. d’Arnaud flew out for a quick inning for Taillon. DJ LeMahieu led off the bottom, grounding out to first. Aaron Judge had a long fly out to far left for the second out. Brett Gardner struck out for a dominant half for Morton. No score.

Ozzie Albies led of the second against Taillon and flew out to Tauchman. Pedro Sandoval struck out. Dansby Swanson ground out for Taillon’s 1-2-3 innings. At the bottom, Giancarlo Stanton struck out. Gleyber Torres ground out. Mike Ford was up for his first time in the major league season and flew out on the first pitch thrown. No score.

Austin Riley led off the third inning by flying out. Guillermo Heredia doubled to the left-field wall. Andrianza doubled, and Heredia scored for the Braves early one-run lead. Freeman went down looking for out number two. Ozuna struck out, but the Braves picked up a run. At the bottom, Gary Sanchez ground out to third. Gio Urshela doubled for the first hit by the Yankees. Mike Tauchman had a sac fly with Urshela going to third base. LeMahieu struck out swinging, leaving one on base. Braves 1 Yankees 0.

d’Arnaud led off the fourth by flying out. Albies walked. Sandoval singled, making two on and no outs for Taillon. Swanson drove into a double play getting Taillon out of trouble. Judge led off the bottom by walking off Morton. Brett Gardner flew out to Ozuna in left. Stanton walked for two on and one out with Torres up; he reached on a fielder’s choice. Stanton went to third base. Mike Ford went down looking as the Yankees failed to tie up the game.

At the top of the fifth, Austin Riley tapped back to Taillon for out number one. Heredia flew out to Judge for the second out. Adrianza struck out for a quick inning for Taillon. Sanchez led off the bottom by flying out to the right-field foul territory. Urshela then homered to tie up the game at one apiece. Tauchman ground out. LeMahieu got a slow roller single. Judge ground out to short, but the Yankees tied up the fame in the fifth. Yankees 1 Braves 1.

Freddie Freeman led off against Lucas Luetge, who replaced Trillion, who had a good start allowing just one run in five innings. Freeman popped out behind the plate to Sanchez. Ozuna flew out to Judge in right. d’Arnaud walked. Albies ground out to short to end the half. Brett Gardner at the bottom of the frame stuck out on 10 pitches running Morton’s pitch count up. Stanton struck out as the Yankee fans booed from the stands. Torres ground out to short, and the score remained tied at 1 apiece.

Sandoval led off the seventh inning by walking. Swanson faced Chad Green replacing Luetge. Green coming into the game, had an unfortunate 0-2 record but an unbelievable 0.93 ERA. Swanton struck out. Riley singled, moving Sandoval to second. Sandoval, one of the slowest runners, was replaced by Kazmar, who hasn’t played in the majors for 12 years.  Heredia singled on a show chopper to third, loading the bases for Green. Adrianza struck out for the second out. That was it for Green, replaced by Justin Wilson. With the bases loaded and two outs, Freeman hit sharply out to LeMahieu, leaving the bases loaded with Braves. At the bottom, Ford led off, lining out to the first baseman. Sanchez chopped to third for the second out. Urshela, with two hits in the game, flew out to Freeman for an over-the-shoulder catch and final out of the inning. The game tied at 1.

At the top of the eighth, with a new pitcher, Jonathan Loaisiga on the mound hit Ozuna, advancing him to first base. d’Arnaud hit into a double play to Torres for two outs. Albies struck out. At the bottom of the eighth, Aaron Hicks pinch hit for Mike Tauchman and walked. LeMahieu single left of short and advanced Hicks to second base. Judge singled, loading the bases with no outs. Clint Frazier pinch-hitting for Brett Gardner with the bases loaded with Yankees. A strange move for manager Aaron Boone as Frazier was 0-66 without an RBI. Frazier did the job benignly as a wild pitch allowed Hicks to score. However, Frazier popped out into the infield. Stanton was intentionally walked, bringing up Gleyber Torre. Torres flew out to center. Mike Ford, with the bases, still loaded, and two outs, walked in a run with DJ scoring. Sanchez popped out to left, but the Yankee rallied to take the lead. Yankees 3 Braves 1.

With last licks on the line for the Atlanta Braves, New York Yankee closer Aroldis Chapman took to the mound to close it out for the Yankees. In for Kazmer, Johan Camargo struck out on a breaking ball. Swanson struck out swinging on a 100 mph Chapman pitch. Riley walked. Heredia flew out to Mike Ford in foul territory to end the game and break the Yankees’ five-game losing streak.

Final score New York Yankees 3 Atlanta Braves 1. The winning pitcher was Jonathan Loaisiga, the loser was Tyler Matzek, and the save went to Aroldis Chapman. Gio Urshela homered and doubled in the game.

 

 

 

 

The New York Rangers fall flat in loss to the New York Islanders

The New York Rangers found out the hard way that the Islanders are not the New Jersey Devils. Anthony Beauvillier had a goal and three assists for the Islanders in a 6-1 win against the Rangers.

The Rangers went most of the game without defenseman Jacob Trouba who left in the first period with an upper-body injury. Trouba got hit hard into the boards by Islanders forward Matt Martin and was visibly shaken up after the collision.

Martin, who ranks in the top 10 in the league in hits, wasn’t penalized on the play.

Trouba had registered 12 points in 37 games entering Tuesday. He ranked second among Rangers skaters in average time on ice, logging 21:59 per contest.

Head coach David Quinn talked about the Trouba injury after the game. “Obviously you saw the effect that it had, but I did not love what we were doing before that. Once Troubs went out our level of play dropped even more. Losing a guy like that hurts on and off the ice.”

Mika Zibanejad talked about the loss of Trouba in his post-game Zoom conference. “Obviously that shakes things up a little bit. But I think we should do a better job trying to work for him and work together in a situation like that.”

“We are all human, we all want to make sure he is ok,” Smith said after the game about the Trouba injury. “Emotionally you are always there for a brother like that. You can’t take away what he does for us on the ice, especially as a leader. You have got to respond and I don’t think we did a very good job of that.”

Kevin Rooney scored the only goal for the Rangers, off a deflected shot by Brendan Smith. Vitali Kravtsov got the other assist.

The New York Rangers return home on Thursday night to play back-to-back games against the Philadelphia Flyers.

 

 

 

New York Giants: Trade-down mock draft scenario that makes the defense dominant

new york giants, jaelan phillips

The New York Giants are preparing for an interesting 2021 NFL Draft. This year’s draft sees a plethora of talented quarterbacks set to be taken in the top ten. This run on quarterbacks could lead top-talented players at other positions to slip outside the top ten.

The Giants are sitting in a pretty spot at eleven overall. Realistically, the draft’s top non-quarterback prospects could be on the board when the Giants are on the clock. New York could stick and pick the best prospect available. Or, Dave Gettleman can elect to do what he has never done before: trade down.

According to Ian Rapoport, trading back is “already something they are internally considering.” Rapoport adds that the eleventh overall pick “will have real value.” What would it look like if the Giants traded down from eleven?

New York Giants trade-down scenario

MOCK TRADE:

  • NYG receives: 15th overall pick, third-round pick (96 overall), fourth-round pick (139)
  • NE receives: 11th overall pick

The New England Patriots are a team that has been rumored to be interested in trading up to draft a quarterback. In this mock scenario, assume that Mac Jones falls to eleven and New England is prepared to trade up in an effort to find their franchise quarterback. Multiple teams might be interested in drafting Jones, so New England makes the move to eleven to secure their quarterback before anyone else can.

The Giants move back four spots and gain an extra third-round pick and an extra fourth-round pick. According to Dan Duggan of The Athletic, this is fair and realistic compensation based on the parameters of two recent trades in reality.

The Mock Draft – What could those picks turn into?

Pick 15 – EDGE Jaelan Phillips, Miami

The Giants move down four spots here and address a major position of need. New York’s defense almost has it all. They have some dominant hog mollies on their defensive line. A secondary full of shut-down corners and versatile safeties. But the second level is lacking pass-rush ability.

New York needs a big-time edge rusher, and in this mock draft, they found one. The Giants are reportedly interested in multiple edge rushers, including Azeez Ojulari, Kwity Paye, and Jaelan Phillips.

Most analysts believe Jaelan Phillips would be a top-ten pick if not for medical red flags. The Miami pass-rusher is absurdly talented and athletic. Phillips recorded 8 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss in his breakout 2020 season. He is projected to be drafted in the second half of the first round, but considering the Giants’ need for an EDGE, Phillips makes sense for them at fifteen overall. The Giants need an edge rusher, and if Jaelan Phillips is the top EDGE on their board, he would be a perfect fit for them in a trade-down scenario.

Pick 42 – iOL Landon Dickerson, Alabama

In this mock draft, the Giants went defense in round one. But New York has needs on the offensive side of the ball that must also be addressed. According to Paul Schwartz of the NY Post, “it will be a surprise if the Giants do not take an offensive lineman with one of their first three picks” because of their lack of depth on the interior.

Landon Dickerson is another player with medical red flags. He tore his ACL last season and has suffered other significant injuries in the past. However, when healthy, Dickerson is a dominant force on the interior of the offensive line.

Dickerson is a phenomenal run-blocker, earning Pro Football Focus’shighest run-blocking grade in the SEC last season with a grade of 92.8. Landon is also incredibly versatile, a trait Joe Judge values highly. While he might be listed as a center, Dickerson is an option for the Giants because he played multiple positions in college. Dickerson logged snaps at every position on the offensive line during his time at Alabama. He played the majority of his snaps at center, but did play over 200 snaps at right guard in 2019 and could make the transition back there in the pros.

This is a risky draft for the Giants. But it is more about the positions they are targeting. Jaelan Phillips and Landon Dickerson are both players with lengthy injury histories. However, Phillips could be swapped out with Azeez Ojulari or Kwity Paye, and Landon Dickerson could be swapped out with Quinn Meinerz, Creed Humphrey, or Wyatt Davis. Whoever the Giants rate highest at these two positions should be the selections at these picks.

Pick 76 – CB Benjamin St-Juste, Minnesota

It never hurts to have depth in the secondary. Benjamin St. Juste out of Minnesota is a cornerback that fits well in New York’s defensive scheme. He is a tall (6 feet 3 inches) corner with the size and physicality to play outside. St-Juste is aggressive in press coverage, making him a good fit for what Patrick Graham likes to do defensively.

The Giants just signed cornerback Adoree’ Jackson to a big contract. But Adoree’ is another player with an injury history. Additionally, cornerback is a position that is frequently injured. The Giants know all too well what can happen when you have a lack of depth in the secondary (see the 2020 matchup against Cleveland). Adding Benjamin St-Juste provides New York with quality cornerback depth in an outside cornerback that could develop into an eventual starter.

Pick 96 – iDL Tyler Shelvin, LSU

Again, this pick could be a number of interior defensive linemen. But Tyler Shelvin is a talented player in a weak defensive tackle class that the Giants have shown some interest in. Tyler Shelvin stated in a press conference that he has spoken with the Giants, per Usayd Koshul.

Shelvin is a solid nose tackle that could be New York’s Dalvin Tomlinson replacement. Tyler Shelvin is a phenomenal run-defender with great strength and power at the point of attack. The Giants would be finding a likely starter on their defensive line with this pick.

Pick 139 – WR Jaelon Darden, North Texas

At some point in this mock draft, the Giants should add another offensive weapon. In the fourth round, Jaelon Dardon out of North Texas provides great value for the Giants. Darden is looked at as a second-round talent to many draft analysts.

Jaelon Darden is a weapon with the ball in his hands. According to Pro Football Focus, Darden recorded the highest missed tackle rate per touch in 2020 amongst wide receivers at 31%. His missed tackle rate was higher than Kadarius Toney’s (30%). Darden is being slept on as a premier slot receiver. He recorded 16 touchdowns out of the slot (the most in college football) and 935 receiving yards (second-most) in 2020.

Sterling Shepard is set to be the Giants’ starting slot receiver in 2020. But, looking down the road, Darden might be the perfect player for New York to develop as their eventual slot receiver once Shepard’s contract expires.

Recap

The Giants turned their defense into a dominant unit in this mock draft. New York found a new starting edge rusher in round one, added depth at cornerback in round three, and secured their Dalvin Tomlinson replacement at nose tackle with their second third-round pick. The Giants did all this while improving their interior offensive line and adding an offensive playmaker to the mix. Overall, this is a trade-down mock draft scenario that Giants fans would be ecstatic about. The Giants addressed all of their biggest needs with talented players, making five selections in the first four rounds. Trading down is something the Giants need to consider in 2021 more than ever.

Yankees bench several regulars for series opener against the Braves

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks

The New York Yankees are set to start a two-game series against the reigning National League East champions, the Atlanta Braves, at Yankee Stadium. Both teams are off to slow starts, but the visitors are starting to turn it around, while the Bombers have dropped five straight games and are in last place.

Jameson Taillon, with a 7.56 ERA to his name so far, will take the hill for the Yankees, while right-hander Charlie Morton will do the same for the Braves. Atlanta won’t have star outfielder Ronald Acuña at least in the series opener, as he is day to day with a mild abdominal strain.

Taillon will try to turn his season around after a couple of rough showings in his still short career with the Yankees.

The Yankees’ heads, including general manager Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone talked about shaking things up on offense, as the unit has been mediocre to date. With an 87 wRC+, the Yankees’ bats have been well-below average in 2021.

The Yankees have Mike Ford in the lineup

Newly-recalled Mike Ford is in the lineup, batting sixth. The Yankees are benching regulars Aaron Hicks, Clint Frazier, and Rougned Odor for the series opener, paving the way for Brett Gardner and Mike Tauchman to see some game action.

Ford will be making some starts at first base for the now-retired Jay Bruce. He could earn semi-regular playing time until mid-May if he performs.

Here is the Yankees’ full lineup:

1 DJ LeMahieu, 2B

  1. Aaron Judge, RF
  2. Brett Gardner, CF
  3. Giancarlo Stanton, DH
  4. Gleyber Torres, SS
  5. Mike Ford, 1B
  6. Gary Sanchez, C
  7. Gio Urshela, 3B
  8. Mike Tauchman, LF

Jameson Taillon, RHP

And the Braves’ lineup:

  1. Ehire Adrianza RF
  2. Freddy Freeman 1B
  3. Marcell Ozuna LF
  4. Travis d’Arnaud C
  5. Ozzie Albies 2B
  6. Pablo Sandoval DH
  7. Dansby Swanson SS
  8. Austin Riley 3B
  9. Guillermo Heredia CF

Charlie Morton, RHP

New York Islanders: FOCO set to Release Limited Edition Mat Barzal Bobblehead

new york islanders, matt barzal

The New York Islanders have become one of the top teams in the NHL recently. Some say this is due to their Head Coach Barry Trotz. Others say it’s because of the moves that General Manager Lou Lamoriello has made to acquire fresh talent. But, coaches and managers can only do so much, the players are the ones that determine the outcome of a team’s season. One player on the Islanders has stood out as the team’s best and a top player in the league as a whole. This player is Coquitlam’s own, Mat Barzal. Barzal has taken the league by storm since his debut in 2017. FOCO, the leading manufacturer of sports and entertainment merchandise, has seen Barzal’s dominance and have honored his play with a new bobblehead.

Reviews

This bobblehead of Mat Barzal is spot on. The attention to detail, whether it be his rocking flow or the classic Islanders logo, FOCO did a terrific job when creating this bobblehead. I, myself, bought some of FOCO’s New York Knicks bobbleheads earlier this year, and it’s 100% worth the $50. I added a new Julius Randle to my impressive collection of Anders Lee and AHL Matt Martin bobbleheads. Mat Barzal’s gifts on the ice are god-given, and the same goes for FOCO’s designers’.

Price and Availability

This bobblehead is a limited edition item, and when I say limited, I mean limited. There are only 144 of these bobbleheads created, and they will sell fast. At the small price of just $50, you can be one of the only people in the world to own this beautiful bobblehead. Again, these bobbleheads will sell fast, so be ready to pounce on them. The bobblehead will be going live for sale on 4/21/2021 at 11:00 AM EST on FOCO’s official website. If you’re not on https://www.foco.com at 11 AM EST on 4/21/2021, you can kiss your dreams of having a limited edition Mat Barzal bobblehead goodbye.

Mets Game Preview: (4/20/21) @ Chicago Cubs (6-9)

The New York Mets head from one cold city to another as they begin a three-game series with the Chicago Cubs. Each team comes in on a different trend; the Mets sit in first place while the Cubs are in last place in the NL Central. Once again, there is no guarantee that every game in the series is played this week due to impending ugly weather.

The Mets offense is not struggling to get hits but is failing to hit for power and hit with runners in scoring position. They have a .246 team average but just a .353 slugging percentage which is the third-worst in baseball. The Mets hit just .194 with runners in scoring position, but they look amazing compared to the MLB worst .137 average the Cubs own.

What separates these teams is their pitching. The Mets 2.93 team ERA is fifth in baseball, while the Cubs 4.98 mark is third from the bottom. When scoring is not coming easy, the Mets have covered their tracks with amazing pitching. Jacob deGrom (0.45) and Marcus Stroman (0.90) are both in the top-10 of MLB’s ERA leaders.

Pitching Matchup

Taijuan Walker takes the mound and has been stellar in his first two starts. Walker has allowed three runs in 10.1 innings pitched with 12 strikeouts. His five walks are high than where he wants to be, but he can attack the inconsistent Cubs offense tonight.

Former Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta takes the mound for the Cubs and has pitched very well in his second go-around in Chicago. Arrieta has not thrown more than 90 pitches in any of his three starts but has gone at least five innings in all of them. The 35-year old has plenty of experience against the Mets and has a 3.09 ERA in 16 career starts against them.

Matchups To Lookout For

Taijuan Walker vs. Joc Pederson: 7-for-15 (.467), 2 Doubles, Home Run, Walk, 2 Strikeouts

Jake Arrieta vs. Jeff McNeil: 15-for-26 (.577), Double, Home Run, Strikeouts

Jake Arrieta vs. Brandon Nimmo: 5-for-16 (.312), Double, Home Run, 2 Walks, 4 Strikeouts

New York Yankees: Mike Ford finally gets a role in the 2021 season

New York Yankees, Mike Ford

New York Yankee player Mike Ford after not making the starting day roster, finally has a role to fill, and it’s an important one. Over the weekend, first baseman Jay Bruce decided to hang up his cleats and retire from baseball, creating a void at first base until the rehabbing Luke Voit rejoins the team in a month. Yesterday I wrote about who would replace Bruce. Today it is apparent that it will be Mike Ford as the Yankees have announced his call up from Scranton.

Ford didn’t make opening day due to a slow start in spring training, but in the past has provided quite a bit of spark for the Yankees, both with home runs and timely hitting. The lineup for today’s Atlanta Braves meeting has not been released as of this writing, so it’s hard to tell if he will replace temporary first baseman DJ LeMahieu at first or if he will sit in the dugout to be used when needed.

Here’s a bit about Ford: Robert and Barbara Ford are parents of 28-year-old Mike Ford. Ford was born and grew up in the Belle Mead area of New Jersey. When he was 12 and 13, he was part of Montgomery’s Babe Ruth League teams that went to the Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth World Series. He attended Montgomery High School as a freshman before transferring to the Hun School of Princeton.  The Hun School is a private boarding school. He played baseball during college at Princeton University, where he played as a first baseman and a pitcher. In 2013 he received the distinction of being named both Player and Pitcher of the year at Princeton. He hit .320 and pitched 6-0 that year.

Ford spent seven years in the minor leagues between the Yankees and Mariners. For the Yankees, he played in the minors for Staten Island Yankees, The Trenton Thunder, The River Dogs, Tampa, and the Scranton Wilkes/Barre Rail Riders. In  2012 Ford went undrafted and signed with the Yankees as an undrafted free agent. He spent that whole year with the Staten Island Yankees. In 2014 while with the River Dogs, Ford hit four home runs in one game. He was later promoted to Tampa, where he was named an All-Star for the Florida State League. In the winter of 2017, he was selected in the Rule 5 draft by the Seattle Mariners, but in March of 2018, he was returned to the New York Yankees.

At the start of 2019,  Ford was invited to spring training as a non-roster player. He was eventually assigned to the Rail Riders but got his big break when he was called up to the majors when Greg Bird was injured. He made his major league debut in April and got his first hit on April 21. He hit his first home run on April 23rd. He had traveled back and forth from Scranton to the Stadium several times during that year, but near the end of the season, he remained at the stadium batting .200 with five home runs in 85 at-bats. In a blowout by the Indians, Ford was sent out to pitch due to his pitching experience at Princeton. He gave up two home runs but pitched three innings, including a 1-2-3 ninth inning; the experience somewhat amused him. With Bird and Voit both out due to injuries, Ford alternated with DJ LeMahieu at first base.

In an interview by the New York Post’s  Steve Serby Ford was asked how he would sum up his journey to the big leagues.  Ford replied:

“It was a long, long journey. A tough one, too. It’s something I would never give back. Definitely hard work, determination, and just kind of the will of not quitting. … There were definitely times where I was very close [to quitting]. I had very good people around me that supported me and kind of kept me in line.”

He was also asked what drives him today?

“Living up to the player that I know I can be. I think [that’s] what a lot of guys strive for. It took me a long time to get here, but keeping the faith and getting here and being a confident hitter and being confident in what I do, I just want to prove that I can be that player that I know I can be.”

By the end of the season, Ford had become a fan favorite and was making a name for himself in the front office.  He ended the season playing in fifty games with 143 plate appearances.  He hit to a batting average of .259 with 12 home runs; that’s one home run in every four games.

On September 1, 2019, against the Oakland Athletics, it was the ninth inning in a game tied at 4.  The Yankees came all the way back to tie the game.  Mike Ford stepped to the plate and, on a 3 and 2 count, hit the first walk-off home run of his career, giving the Yankees the win.

During the shortened 2020 season, Ford appeared in less than half the New York Yankee games with 10 hits, two of them home runs but suffered with a .135 batting average. His 2021 spring training was a bit better; in 11 games, he had one homer and a batting average of .259. Ford tends to get energized at Yankee Stadium, and hopefully, he will provide a spark that gets the Yankees on track.

When not playing at New York Yankee Stadium, Ford lives near the Rail Riders stadium and is not married, nor is there any news of a steady girlfriend.