Yankees recall first baseman Mike Ford from alternate training site

new york yankees, mike ford

In the past two days, New York Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone have been saying that while they trust the slumping offensive performers to eventually regain their stroke, they would be more than willing to experiment with the lineup with the hope of jumpstarting a dormant unit.

While the Yankees could play Rougned Odor or Tyler Wade (or even Derek Dietrich) at second base and slide DJ LeMahieu to play first base until Luke Voit returns from injury in mid-May, the team is taking the most appropriate and natural route.

The Yankees have recalled first baseman Mike Ford from the alternate training site and he will earn playing time at his natural first base position. Whether or not the Bombers let him play regularly or semi-regularly until mid-May remains to be seen, but the opportunity seems to be there for him if he performs.

The Yankees would be smart to give Ford an extended chance

The 28-year-old Ford has been with the Yankees for most of his professional career, and unlike the retiring Jay Bruce, is a natural first baseman. He isn’t a very good one with the glove, but the fact that he remains in his prime and has been successful in previous opportunities in MLB makes us wonder why they didn’t consider him as an option to fill in for Voit in the first place.

Ford is a career .217 hitter in 247 plate appearances in Major League Baseball, but his .308 OBP and .461 slugging percentage actually make him an average hitter judging by wRC+, which is 101.

He was very good with the Yankees in 2019. In 163 plate appearances, he slugged 12 home runs and slashed .259/.350/.559 with a .372 wOBA and a 134 wRC+.

Will the Yankees give Ford the opportunity to play every day? We will find out in the upcoming days.

The one facet the Islanders continue to thrive at despite recent struggles

Watching the Islanders of late, there’s been a lot of things that would make you shake your head. Somehow they’ve still been able to collect points and keep themselves in the fight for the top spot in the MassMutual East division. And there’s one part of their game — no matter how much they’ve struggled — that’s been truly thriving: the penalty kill.

The Isles’ penalty kill has been tremendous over the last few weeks. Since the beginning of April, both PK units have allowed just two goals in 20 attempts when the Islanders are shorthanded. Those numbers have launched the Isles up into the top-ten in the league in that category; they rank tenth at 82.1% according to covers.com.

“The first two minutes are important,” forward Cal Clutterbuck said late last month.

Clutterbuck, who has missed the last two games with an injury, is one of the team’s most important PKers. He was replaced mainly the last two games by veteran acquisition Travis Zajac, who did a commendable job.

“How many times you can clear the puck and get fresh legs on the ice is important,” Clutterbuck also added. “If you end up getting hemmed in for the first two minutes it makes it tough to roll over and gives the power play a little confidence. Clearing the puck when you get a chance and putting pressure on them early and not letting them get set up and get into a rhythm is a big thing for four-minute power plays. Four minutes on the game clock is a lot of time to give a power play… You need big plays and big saves.”

Special teams at this time of the year can be crucial, so the Isles getting the most out of their  penalty kill is massive. The same can’t be said about their power play, which has lost its mojo after it seemed to find success for a decent portion of the season. That’s another story for another time. Still, if you’re a team in a position like the Isles are, having at least one half of your special teams going completely overtakes both stinking up the joint.

The PK has been so vital, it’s one of the reasons head coach Barry Trotz made the decision not to take out d-man Scott Mayfield after a couple rough outings in Boston. Trotz acknowledged Mayfield as one of the “best penalty killers in the league” which he is, and decided instead to insert Braydon Coburn in for Noah Dobson in Sunday’s win over Philadelphia.

Over the next six games the Islanders will be tasked with dealing with two of the most dangerous man-advantages in the league — the Rangers and Capitals. The Caps rank second in the NHL on the power play and have been tough to handle in games the Isles have faced them this season. The Blueshirts (15th) are coming off a four-game sweep of New Jersey where they scored four times in ten chances man up.

It won’t be easy for the Isles, especially if Clutterbuck is still missing. But the they have proven for some time now they don’t get rattled when man down, even when they’re not playing to the best they know how.

Ilya Sorokin put on another masterclass with his shutout win against the Flyers. For some odd reason though, he’s still not receiving any possible consideration for the Calder Trophy. A lot of the betting sites still don’t have the 25-year-old anywhere near the top of the list in terms of odds to win it.

Sorokin is 12-4-1 this year and is sporting a GAA of 2.02.

The Isles announced last week that 90% of their season tickets had sold for UBS Arena. This morning they received another excellent development.

Per Peter Schwartz, the team announced that 80% of UBSArena’s club spaces and premium suite inventory have been sold for the inaugural 2021-22 season including the entire inventory of the 1905 club.

 

New York Yankees Top 10’s: Is your favorite shortstop among the top 10? (videos)

New York Yankees, Derek Jeter

The New York Yankees, in their 107-year glorious history, have had their share of great baseball players.  From Babe Ruth to Joe DiMaggio to Ron Guidry, Derek Jeter, and dozens more, some of the best baseball players in history have graced Yankee Stadium.  In my other top ten columns, I’ve dealt with the other positions. In this installment, I will attempt to identify the great Yankee shortstops.  With so many great shortstops, some writers will differ in the order of their preferences.  Here are this writer’s top 10.

One through five is relatively easy; beyond that gets more difficult as the New York Yankees are more known for their outfielders, 2nd and 3rd baseman. If the Yankees have a weakest position in their history, it is probably at shortstop. Also, the Yankees have had players known for their offense and defense of their positions, but they were more well know at another position. A good example is Alex Rodgriguez, one of the top five shortstops in all of the baseball lore, but he played 3rd base for the Yankees. Joe Sewell, the Hall of Fame shortstop, could have been included in this list, but I did not consider him as he only played two years for the Yankees.

10.  Tom Tresh

First, let me say about Tom Tresh that he would have been in the top five except that he played more in the New York Yankee Stadium outfield than in short. Tresh played nine years for the Yankees with a career batting average of .247 with 140 home runs, five seasons with 20 or more, while being an excellent defender both short and in the outfield.

9. Gene Michael

Gene Michael was valuable to the New York Yankees as a player, coach, manager, and front office.  He was as responsible for the last ’90s, 2000’s Yankee dynasty as anyone in the organization. Michael started his seven-year stint with the Yankees in 1968. He was not known as a hitter and less so as a long ball hitter.  What he was known for was his excellent defense at short.  He is another Yankee that could have ranked higher on this list if his offense was in line with his defense.

8. Mark Koenig

Many present-day fans don’t know Mark Koenig; he played for the Yankees for six years, starting in 1925.  Koenig was an excellent hitter for that time, hitting .285.  He was not a home run hitter but hit for contact.  In 1928 he hit .319 for the season.   He was agile at short and played 2nd and 3rd when needed.  In 1927 he had third-most assists at shortstop in all of baseball (423).  In the World Series that the Yankees lost that year, he hit .500 without any errors in 28 chances.

7. Kid Elberfeld

Kid Elberfeld is another Yankee that few fans don’t remember.  He played short for the New York Yankees between 1903 and 1909.  In his seven years, he averaged .268 with 28 home runs.  As with many players at that time, he played all infield positions except for the 1st base.  His fielding average was .938, which was excellent for shortstops at that time.

6. Bucky Dent

Some may say that Bucky Dent should be further down this list or not on it it all.  I place him sixth due to his exceptional spotlight play in the 1978 one-game playoff with the Red Sox. Dent hit .239 while with the Yankees and was an All-Star twice, mostly because of his defense.  Dent was primarily known as a clutch contact hitter hitting 518 hits as a Yankee.

5. Frank Crosetti

Frank Crosetti is my choice as the 5th best Yankee shortstop.  Crosetti played his entire 17-year career with the Yankees, which brings him up on the list substantially. He hit .245 with over a thousand runs scored.  He was a two-time All-Star and a three-time MVP candidate.  Crosetti started his career at short for the Yankees in 1932, a position he held until a poor season in 1940 when Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto took over for him.  But he retook the job when Rizzuto left for the Navy. Rizzuto rejoined the club in  1946. Crosetti then became a player/coach for the club when he retired in 1948.  He had a .948 fielding percentage as a Yankee

4. Roger Peckinpaugh

Roger Peckinpaugh was a Yankee for nine years and was an MVP candidate in 1914 when he was a player/manager.  He is the only one on the list to have managed the Yankees. He had a .949 fielding average while with the Yankees, which was quite good for that era.  He had a .259 batting average over the span.  He was known as a contact hitter with the ability to steal bases.  He stole 38 in 1914.  In 1921 Peckinpaugh led all of baseball with the most assists in one game (9).  After leaving the Yankees, he had a long managerial career ending with the Indians in 1941.  He later became general manager and president of the Indians.

3. Tony Kubek

Tony Kubek was one of the most beloved New York Yankees. He played 9 years with the Yankees. In 1957 he won the Rookie of the Year award.  He played from 1957 to 1965.  He was an All-Star four times and was an MVP candidate three times.  Kubek is the first utility player to make the list, and although he played all over the field, 80% of his games were played at short, which is where he won all his awards.  The only position that Kubek did not play for the Yankees is that of pitcher or catcher.  In Game Seven of the 1960 World Series, he bungled a double play when he was hit in the throat by a bad hop that knocked him out.  At short, he had an excellent .967 fielding percentage.

2.  Phil Rizzuto

Known as much for his career in broadcasting and his onfield play at short. Rizutto can not be overlooked as one of the best Yankee shortstops ever. The “Scooter” had a .968 fielding percentage at short in his 13 Yankee seasons.  Rizzuto was of small stature, and the manager at the time that Rizzuto made his major league debut in 1941, Joe McCarthy once said Rizzuto was too small to be a good baseball player.  History has shown that McCarthy was very wrong.  In 13 years, he had a fielding percentage of .968.  He hit .273 over the life of his career, with almost 1,600 hits over the span.  Rizzuto, the five-time All-Star, was an MVP candidate eight times, capturing the award in 1950.  Rizzuto was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. When he left the Yankees in 1956, he had over 1200 double-plays under his belt.

He contributed to seven Yankee World Series championships and is sixth all-time in World Series games played, eighth in hits with 45, fourth in walks with 30, and tied for third in stolen bases with 10. Rizzuto would have an exceptional 40 years broadcasting on radio and TV for the New York Yankees.  His folksy style embraced him to the Yankee fans.  His signature “Holy Cow” was known throughout baseball even to this day.

1.  Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter is the hands-down best New York Yankee shortstop ever.  This baby bomber spent his entire Hall of Fame career, 20 years with the Yankees, all of them at shortstop. He is one of the very few career Yankees to have never played a game at another position during their career.  Jeter was the most popular of all Yankees from the late ’90s to the present.  He was a member of the “Core four” that brought the Yankees to five World Series Championships.

After 20 years at short, he had the highest fielding percentage (.976) of any Yankee shortstop in the club’s history.  Add to that, Jeter was clutch at every important opportunity.  He hit an amazing batting average of .310, the eighth highest of any Yankee.  He led all Yankees, playing 2,247 games while getting a historic 3,465 hits.  He was also number one with 544 doubles.

Getting back to Jeter being clutch, he had a unique ability to find himself in impact-changing moments during the regular and postseason.  Although the shortstop was one of the most modest players, always putting the team first, he seemed to relish it.  A few examples include him getting his 3000th hit.  He didn’t just get a hit; he did it in style with a smashing home run.  When it came time for Jeter to retire in his last appearance at Yankee Stadium, he turned “fantasy into reality”[1] when he hit the walk-off home run in his final game.

During his career with the Yankees, Jeter was Rookie of the Year in 1996; he was an All-Star 14 times, a twelve-time MVP candidate, a five-time Gold Glove award winner, and a Silver Slugger award winner five times.  Jeter was one of those unique players that played consistently throughout his entire career and retired at the top of his game.  Jeter became the second Yankee shortstop to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame to be inducted into the 2020 class.  He missed a unanimous vote by just one sour sportswriter. Originally scheduled for July 2020, with coronavirus concerns, the induction ceremony has been moved to this July 25th at Cooperstown, New York.

Yankees open to shaking things up offensively

New York Yankees, Brett Gardner

The New York Yankees have lost five straight games, were swept at home by their rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays, and currently have the worst record in the American League at 5-10. It’s fair to say that the past three weeks have been rough for them.

The Yankees’ offense has been, to this point, almost non-existent. The team is ranked 22nd in weighted Runs Created Plus, or wRC+, with 87. And several starters are batting under .200: Gleyber Torres (.196), Giancarlo Stanton (.176), Clint Frazier (.167), Aaron Hicks (.160) and Rougned Odor (.125).

Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman spoke to the media on Monday and made it clear that he still trusts his guys.

“Individual below-average performances, those will get corrected we believe over time. We trust our players. We trust our process,” he said.

However, he and Boone are open to shaking things up in the short-term in order to light a fire on those who may need it.

Will the Yankees make some tough choices?

That may mean occasionally sitting guys like Frazier and Hicks to play Brett Gardner and Mike Tauchman, and using Tyler Wade and Mike Ford in the infield or Kyle Higashioka behind the plate with more frequency.

“As the manager, (Boone) always has the disposal to utilize the roster how he sees fit,” Cashman said Monday. “Clearly there’s a lot of different choices to play with. That’s something he deals with and wrestles with his coaching staff on a day in and day out basis. If you want to switch things around in the outfield, you certainly have some other choices to play with if you want. And you can do the same on the infield, too. There’s a little bit of flexibility there. And that goes all the way to the catching spot, too. So he’s always had that in his back pocket.”

After losing to the Rays on Sunday, the Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone conceded that he may make some lineup changes on Tuesday against the Atlanta Braves.

“There’ll be some things that I consider about shaking things up, no question,” Boone said. “I’ve done it a little bit, but it’s a little tough. It’s a little bit of a different era when you only have three or four bench guys, but they’ll probably potentially be some more opportunities for guys that maybe haven’t been playing as much.”

Knicks climbing Power Rankings list at unprecedented speed, where do they sit?

new york knicks, julius randle, reggie bullock

Currently, on a six-game win streak, the New York Knicks have proven they can hang with some of the best teams in the NBA. Despite losing a few contests a few weeks ago to the Brooklyn Nets and 76ers by a small margin, the Knicks have beat some quality teams over the past few days, including the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers.

In fact, their league-best defense has continued to dominate, as they are allowing just 104.5 points per game, with the Lakers in second place at 106.1.

The Knicks’ latest rise is thanks to a few different factors, ranging from head coach Tom Thibodeau to All-Star Julius Randle, who won the Eastern Conference player of the week award for his performance last week. He is having a career season and has just one year left on his three-year, $63 million deal he signed in 2019. However, the Knicks are enjoying the fruits of his labor, as he averaged 35.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 6.5 assists, and 2.0 steals during the stretch.

Most would make a compelling argument that Randle should win the Most Improved Player award this year, after completely turning his game around and becoming not only an efficient scorer but also a shot creator and passer.

Thanks to his quality, the Knicks have seen their rankings skyrocket in recent days, breaking the top 10 and CBS’s Power Rankings for the first time in quite a while.

CBS Sports Power Ranking has Knicks climbing the ladder:

Watch out for the Knicks, who won all four games this week to make it six in a row overall, and are now firmly in the mix for a top-four seed in the East. Julius Randle is on a tear, averaging 35.8 points for the week on 45.5 percent 3-point shooting, including 44 points in a win over the Mavericks on Friday. The Knicks continue to be one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, giving up 106 points per 100 possessions this week against quality offensive teams.

The Knicks are preparing to take on the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday evening, and while they sit at .500, the Knicks have a good opportunity to stretch their win streak to seven. However, without LaMelo Ball and Malik Monk, the Hornets will have to find another way to attack a dominant New York defense.

Yankees’ Brian Cashman will leave things in the hands of Aaron Boone, who can’t figure out how to win

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone, Brian Cashman

The New York Yankees have started the 2021 season with five wins and 10 losses, including five consecutive defeats over the past few days. They were most recently swept by the Tampa Bay Rays, scoring a total of seven runs during those three games.

Ultimately, the team has struggled considerably to get things going, and while their pitching has been decent at times, it is their offense that has lacked gusto. The Yankees desperately need a catalyst to fuel a turnaround, and while GM Brian Cashman says the team needs to self-correct, he also stated that Aaron Boone is in control of the roster and will be making those strategic decisions.

The New York Yankees need a change, but they also need consistency:

Ultimately, the analytical process that Boone has utilized isn’t working, and rotating Brett Gardner and Clint Frazier in left-field isn’t going to get the job done. They went out and acquired Rougned Odor from the Texas Rangers to help in the infield, and while he’s added a slight spark, he can’t carry the team alone.

Currently, DJ LeMahieu leads the team in batting average at .286, with a minimum of 50 at-bats. Even that is a bit low for a player of his caliber that finished the 2020 season with an impressive .364 average. Again, there’s plenty of time to turn things around and go back into the shape of things, but Boone’s lack of motivation and strategy behind the scenes is clearly on display.

As the manager, (Boone) always has the disposal to utilize the roster how he sees fit,” Cashman said Monday in a Zoom media call. “Clearly there’s a lot of different choices to play with. That’s something he deals with and wrestles with his coaching staff on a day in and day out basis. If you want to switch things around in the outfield, you certainly have some other choices to play with if you want. And you can do the same on the infield, too. There’s a little bit of flexibility there. And that goes all the way to the catching spot, too. So he’s always had that in his back pocket.”

Unfortunately for the Yankees, switching things around doesn’t avoid one major reality, depth isn’t supposed to be as good as starting talent. Currently, one of their biggest flops so far this season is Aaron Hicks, who is hitting .160 over just 55 plate appearances. He has been utterly useless on the offensive side of the ball, for the most part, striking out 25.5% of the time.

Boone is considering shaking things up a bit regarding roster decisions, but he must continue to give action to his primary players instead of making too many changes too frequently.

“There’ll be some things that I consider about shaking things up, no question,” Boone said. “I’ve done it a little bit, but it’s a little tough. It’s a little bit of a different era when you only have three or four bench guys, but they’ll probably potentially be some more opportunities for guys that maybe haven’t been playing as much.”

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: New York Giants’ Ifeadi Odenigbo says ‘we’re doing something special here’

The New York Giants made a key addition on the defensive side of the ball this free agency period. New York signed Ifeadi Odenigbo, formerly of the Minnesota Vikings, to a one-year $2.5 million contract. Odenigbo is a four-year NFL veteran that had his breakout season in 2019, totaling 7 sacks that season.

Empire Sports Media had the great privilege of speaking to Ifeadi in an exclusive interview on Fireside Giants. Co-hosts Alex Wilson and Anthony Rivardo enjoyed interviewing Ifeadi Odenigbo and asking him a plethora of questions regarding his football career and his life off-the-field. You can watch the video version of the interview on the Fireside Giants YouTube Channel here.

Q: “Are you excited to be with the New York Giants and how has this transition been for you?”

It’s been pretty unique just because it’s still COVID-near. So like right now we’re trying to figure out OTA’s, are we going, are we not going? But when I got here to sign my contract about a month ago I got to meet the coaching staff, I got to meet the GM, which was pretty exciting. They seemed pretty excited. They know that they have a plan for me. I’m just excited that an organization wants me and I’m gonna do my best for them.

Q: “Coach Joe Judge, what was your first impression of him? He’s a pretty intense guy.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah, dude, I could sense that intensity from a mile away. I’m like, ‘Alright, it’s all business baby.’ That’s how it was with Coach Zimmer, so this is nothing ne to me just from a standpoint of getting from college to the NFL, this is a business, you’re here to win games. There’s a lot, too much is given, much is expected, so I understand this organization and that’s no problem to me.

Q: “Did you get that feeling that the Giants are ready to win? That Joe Judge has that winning mentality? You were coming to a place to be with a team that has a chance to be great. Do you see that with the Giants?”

Absolutely. I’ve actually had the chance this year to workout with Leonard Williams. Leonard was here at House of Athletes for a couple of weeks, I think he’s back in California, but I think he’s going to come back again. Right now I’m working out with Dexter Lawrence and I’ve gotten to know him pretty well, so we’re building chemistry. I actually ran into Nate Solder today. I’m slowly talking to more and more Giants, just getting the vibe and understanding what’s expected of me when I get there.

Q: “Karl told us you have a ‘samurai’s dedication’ towards training and everything in your life. What is that like?”

I came to Miami not really knowing anyone. But I came to Miami because I do my research. This year I was like, ‘Alright, I have a little more money, I have been in the NFL, I can start spending more,’ so I was doing my due diligence and the resources in Miami are pretty good, so I was like, ‘yeah let me come down here, try it here, if I don’t like it here, I’ll go somewhere else.’ I was in Chicago last year, the year before I was in Ohio so I’ve kind of been all over the place. What’s cool about going to all these different places is just gaining a different type of perspective, a different type of working out, and these are all things I can add to my arsenal to help stay in shape. So you work with one coach for a couple months, you understand what he wants from you. You take what’s useful, you get rid of what wasn’t useful, then you move on to the next coach and it’s all about applying it, just getting better every day.

Q: “Are you excited to move to New York now?”

Heck yes, man! It’s a big market! If you can win in New York, that’s the best place to be at! Obviously the New York media is one of the most brutal, they keep it real. So ‘don’t take it personal,’ but I’m excited for the big stage, I feel like I was born for this, and I’m ready to give New York everything I have.

Q: “You’re now a member of the New York Giants. What was that one motivating factor that made you say, ‘New York is the place for me to be.'”

Just from a standpoint, so like my agent and I, when I was a free agent, I had a bunch of teams that were all making offers but the Giants seemed pretty aggressive. I think you want the feeling to be mutual. What’s kind of cool about this is the fact that when you hit free agency it’s kind of like high school all over again. You actually have the choice to choose instead of being draft. Like, ‘Ope! They drafted me, I have no say in this! Better make the best of the situation!’ So seeing New York have that much interest in me and saying like, ‘Hey we have a plan for you, we think you fit our scheme. We’re doing something special here.’ I was kind of sold on that. And I was born in New Jersey, I lived here for two years. So coming back, I’m already kind of familiar with the area because I have some family that lives here. I was like, ‘Alright, you can’t write a better story than this.’ I’m excited with what Coach Judge has to offer. I’ve heard that it’s a pretty intense organization but I’m an intense guy so I guess that’s harmony right there.

Q: “New team, new scheme. In Minnesota, they kind of lined you up all over the defensive line. A lot of the time you lined up over the guard, over the tackle, outside the tackle on the edge, sometimes even over the center. So, with the Giants, have you spoken to them? Where do you see yourself lining up primarily and where are you most comfortable?

So I think we’ll find out more at OTA’s. Virtual voluntary workouts start this Monday so I’ll get more of an idea. But once we start having these meetings, once they get to see me in person and see me in-depth they’ll have an idea. I’m assuming that they’re gonna try me all over because I’m kind of like the lunch-pail guy. Put me at 3-Tech, put me over the nose, put me at 5-Tech, put me against a tight end. I’ll find a way to win. When I was in Minnesota I was a utility guy. I’m here to compliment Leonard and Dexter. Those are my D-tackles, those are the monsters. I’m happy to be a part of the Giants. But most importantly I’m a team-first guy and when you’re a team-first guy, at the end of the day when everyone starts to do you part you naturally start making plays. One thing I’ve learned about defensive line, it’s complimentary. When Dexter, when Leonard’s making plays, I’ll start making plays. When I start making plays, they’re making plays. We all need each other.

Q: “When you line up outside of the tackle, throughout most of your career, you’ve had your hand in the dirt. Now the Giants run this 3-4 defense where they have their outside linebackers rushing off of the edge. So you might be playing more in a two-point stance, I would assume. How comfortable are you with that?”

So obviously that’s something new. But that’s something I’ve kind of dreamed of. Kind of what Karl was saying. In high school I was getting recruited from the majority of schools as an outside linebacker. But now, I guess it’s never too late to be an outside linebacker. So I guess ten years later my dream finally comes true. So right now during this training in Miami I’ve been doing a lot out of a two-point stance, a lot of dropping, a lot of rushing. What’s cool about being in a two-point stance is that my d-tackle is in a 4i. So in Minnesota I’d be in a tight-five and my d-tackle would be a 3-Tech. But now, when your d-tackle is in a 4i, meaning that he is lined up on the inside shoulder of the offensive tackle, the tackle has to be honest. A lot of the time when a tackle is lined up against a 3-Tech the tackle doesn’t account for him and he can kind of cheat the set. But he has to play it honest now because if he tries to jump the defensive end or outside linebacker he leaves a huge gap for the defensive tackle to make plays and that leaves a lot of stress on the guard.

Q: “At one point, you were a practice squad player. Now you’ve risen through the ranks, got a nice contract with the Giants and are expected to be a pretty big part of this defense. How has it been rising through the ranks throughout your career and what kind of chip does that put on your shoulder?”

Hey, humble beginnings, man! I remember being a practice squad player and being like, ‘Man, I really don’t like my role.’ That was the year that the Minneapolis Miracle happened so it was cool being part of that and seeing that but I was like, ‘Man, I really wanna be on this field.’ So unfortunately the next year I wasn’t able to make the active roster, so I went out to Cleveland for a little bit, then Arizona, then came back to Minnesota. But just being a journeyman for a little bit and seeing that side of football where your love of the game gets truly tested. I knew for a fact that I have what it takes, that I love this game and I don’t take any day for granted. You only have so many years to play football, so why waste it? I still kind of have that chip on my shoulder every day when I walk in. I was cut multiple times, people didn’t believe in me but I believed in myself and I know I have what it takes to make the next level and be a contributer on any team.

Q: “In 2019 you finally got that chance and your first career sack came against the New York Giants as you brought Daniel Jones down for a 12-yard loss. What do you think about Daniel Jones? That’s your quarterback, that’s the guy. How confident are you with him leading the team in year three?”

Hey, Danny Dimes, baby! I’m a believer man. That boy can run! I know everyone was giving him grief on Thursday Night Football when he fell, but they clocked him going 21-22 miles per hour. I think in this day and age, having a quarterback that has a great arm, I think he is number one in the league on throws 25 yards or over… Just knowing that a young quarterback like him is not afraid to take a shot, I think that’s huge. Obviously we got some big free agency weapons. I think the Giants are doing a great job surrounding him with talent. That’s my quarterback and I’m happy that he’s the Giants’ quarterback and I’m happy to be part of this team.

Q: “What has been your impression so far of the Joe Judge culture?”

It’s a business, man. He’s a Patriots disciple. So those practices are going to be intense, you gotta bring it every day. That’s nothing new to me. Just understanding that he’s hard to please, like the classic old-school father like, ‘Hey, dad, is this good enough?’ ‘No.’ It’s never good enough so just understanding that and doing what is expected.

New York Yankees: Big wigs weigh in on the Yankees dismal start

New York Yankees fans are outraged and frustrated at the Yankees’ dismal start of the 2021 season. Now to respond to fans who threw balls out onto the field during one game and after the loss Sunday in the finale for a team sweep, fans loudly booed the team as it left the field; management is talking to the media.

Aaron Boone on the poor start

Before the sweep of the New York Yankee by the Tampa Bay Rays, manager Aaron Boone gave his usual patient, rosy outlook when facing the media. But after losing five in a row, including that sweep by the Rays, Sunday finally seems to be taking on a different tone, one that says we have to play better.

The fact of the matter is the if your name isn’t Gerrit Cole, you have not pitched dependably; if your a hitter, you, with few exceptions, have not hit consistently or situationally. If you’re a player on the field, you have provided some pretty sloppy play. Sunday’s game was a mess with several mistakes you might not see in Little League play.

Finally, Friday night, after another loss in the opener with the Rays, Aaron Boone called for a team meeting immediately at the games’ end. Slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who has the most RBI’s this season, said that Boone seemed angry. The Yankees only performing starting pitcher Gerrit Cole had more to say about it:

“I haven’t played with Aaron quite as much as some of the other players,” Cole said before Saturday’s Yankees-Rays’ game at Yankee Stadium. “But I’ve certainly been reamed out by a few managers in my day. It was pretty par for the course from what I’ve seen in my experience in the big leagues. I think the players listen to (Boone), and I think it was impactful.”

“I think there’s a handful of different variables, the first one being that baseball is a hard game. A lot of times when everything’s going well it can seem easy. And when everything’s not going well, it can dumbfound you at the same time. I think it is early and we all were looking to settle in.

“A streak like this after two or three months of really solid baseball will get overlooked, but we don’t have that backdrop right now. We’re kind of scuffling here and we’re starting off the season with a less than ideal record. It is what it is, and we’ll take it one game at a time and keep trying to improve.”

After Friday night’s brutal loss and a team meeting, Boone had a night to think about the slow start; although still confident the team will pull out of it; he had this to say on Saturday morning:

“I think [I’m] more pissed off at the way we’ve come out of the gates here, not playing our best,” Boone said Saturday before his team tried to get back on track against the Rays at Yankee Stadium. “But I think we all share that in that room. Look, I concern myself with all things our club. As far as big picture and where I think we’re going, I’m still as confident as ever that we’ll work our way out of this and get rolling here eventually and be the team we expect.

“It’s always frustrating when you’re going through a tough time, but it’s also part of being a major leaguer and part of the 162-game season. Adversity’s going to show up for you. You don’t know when and where, how often, but you gotta be able to deal with it. That’s part of it. I’m confident we will.”

After the reaming out Friday night, although there was some spark in Saturday’s matinee, Sunday’s game was a disaster when the Rays completed their sweep. No matter how hard the team tried, they lost two more games seeing them at the very bottom of the American League.

Cashman on his part this season

“Our record is reflective of our organization,” Cashman said. “Obviously, Aaron’s a piece of that, as am I. But otherwise he’s doing everything he needs to do. … Obviously he spoke to the team after that tough loss (on Friday night). He obviously engaged the group in a strong way. So he’s doing everything he needs to do, and most importantly supporting these guys because we trust our players and we trust their abilities and we trust over the course of time that will, as it normally does, correct itself with a lot more games on the belt. So I think Aaron Boone is doing everything he can do within his power currently.”

Cashman on owner Hal Steinbrenner

“He’s disappointed, clearly,” Cashman said Monday in a Zoom media call. “Hal obviously has got a lot invested in this situation, but he’s also a fan just like we all are. Our expectation is to provide great Yankee baseball for those who come to the games or those who are watching the games, and we haven’t done that here in the beginning of April.”

This writer wants New York Yankee fans to realize, the bottom line in all of this is to remember this is not the end of the world, it’s a long 162 game season, and these first 15 games are just a blip in that season, even the best of teams in their best years have ups and downs in a season. In 1997 the Yankees got off to a 5-10 start and then won 18 of their next 25 games. They did lose the division that year and the Wild card berth. But did win 4 World Series Championships in the surrounding five years.

The unfortunate part of this slow start is that every loss this early in the season can be impactful at the end of the season. The Yankee pitchers have to pitch better and longer. The defense needs to get down to basics and clean up their act. I do not doubt that the Yankees hitters will start hitting, but they must start doing it sooner than later.

The New York Yankees now have a hole to dig themselves out of, and hopefully, that will start today when they face the Atlanta Braves. They have faced the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays an inordinate number of times to start the season. After the short 2 game series with the Braves, they will face the Cleveland Indians, the Baltimore Orioles, and the Detroit Tigers. Hopefully, they can turn themselves around in their search for the elusive New York Yankee 28th World Championship.

2 players the New York Giants should avoid in the 1st round of the NFL Draft

New York Giants, Gregory Rousseau

There are a few positions in the 2021 NFL draft that are considerably week. The New York Giants simply can’t reach on a player who won’t offer a significant impact on day one with the 11th overall pick. With an expected 4-5 quarterbacks to go in the first 10 picks, the Giants will have their choice at a bevy of elite options, so there are a few players in specific positional groupings that should be avoided at all costs.

Two players the New York Giants should stay away from in the 2021 NFL Draft:

1.) EGDE Gregory Rousseau

To start, Miami pass rusher Gregory Rousseau is the number one player on the list to avoid for the Giants at 11. Former NYG vice president Marc Ross seems to think the Giants will select him with the 11th overall pick, but based on his track record and being fired by the Giants several years ago, we can make the assumption he’s not in the know.

Rousseau is an interesting prospect, nonetheless, as he posted 15.5 sacks in 2019 before opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19. He forced four fumbles and posted 19.5 tackles for a loss and 34 solo tackles. The problem with Greg is that a majority of his socks came from the zero technique as an interior pass rusher, which won’t fly at the NFL level with bigger and stronger offensive lineman.

Rousseau simply doesn’t have an established position, with a little experience on the edge and no experience at outside linebacker, which the Giants utilize in their 3-4 scheme.

Selecting him would be purely based on speculation and upside, and after a disappointing Pro Day, he is dropping like a fly on draft boards. Some even have him in the second round as an athletic upside with potential. His minimal bend around the edge and lack of size make him inadequate for the interior on the defensive line, and as an edge, he simply doesn’t have to production or experience to be worthy of the 11th pick.

2.) EDGE Kwity Paye

It is no surprise that two edge rushers are the two players the Giants should stay away from in the draft. While Kwity Paye has tons of potential and has a play style like Jadeveon Clowney, he’s not going to be an elite pass rusher on day one. While he might be a strong run defender, he is a down lineman who plays in the four-point stance, so he would only play in nickel packages for the Giants, which would already slash his snap count considerably.

As stated above, the Giants have an opportunity to select an impact player on day one and trying to find a suitable position for Paye might be difficult. While he does have a bit of experience at OLB, he’s not refined in the category, and based on his experience and potential there alone, might even be a second-round pick for the Giants. For a team that runs a 4-3 base defense, he would be a fantastic selection with upside, given his functional strength and strong hands.

Knicks News: Alec Burks injury update, Zion Williamson stirring the ‘Melting Pot’

Zion Williamson, knicks, julius randle

The New York Knicks are gearing up for a contest against the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday evening at 7:30 PM. With the Knicks coming off a victory against the New Orleans Pelicans, they have since extended their win streak to six games.

Thanks to a stellar performance from Julius Randle, who won the Eastern Conference player of the week award, the Knicks are rolling and actually cracked the top 10 power rankings in the NBA.

The last time the Knicks were considered a top 10 team, it must’ve been 2014, and they are sniffing the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. They currently sit in sixth place, just .5 games behind the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics, but given their recent success, it is only a matter of time before they take hold of a higher seed.

The Knicks have been winning despite not having some of their more influential players, including Mitchell Robinson and Alec Burks against New Orleans. In fact, Burks will be again out on Tuesday against the Hornets. He’ll be unavailable due to the league’s health and safety protocols and could be available on Wednesday against the Atlanta Hawks, which could catapult the Knicks into fourth place.

The New York Knicks could end up courting Zion Williamson from New Orleans:

After the Knicks’ victory over the Pelicans, Williamson took to the media to express his love for playing at MSG and in New York. In fact, he was a bit ecstatic about the idea of playing in MSG regularly, suggesting to Knick fans he could end up with the squad at some point in the future.

“I mean, New York is the mecca of basketball,” Williamson said. “I love playing here. I played here in college. This is my first time playing in the pros. I mean, this atmosphere — whether they’re cheering for you, whether they’re booing for you, it’s amazing. Honestly, I think, outside of New Orleans obviously, I think this might be my favorite place to play. Outside of New Orleans. I can’t even lie to you. I can’t lie to you.”

Williamson is averaging 26.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game this season, and he’s becoming a dominant force in his second year in the NBA. While New Orleans fans probably didn’t want to hear this from their best player and the supposed future of their franchise, Knicks fans were excited and optimistic he could join the team later on.
Even ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski insisted that his comments are worth keeping an eye on down the road.

“He was pretty animated with it,” Wojnarowski said. “It’s certainly something, I think, down the road for people to keep their eye on. But right now, you know, he’s in New Orleans. He’s going to be in New Orleans and they have a window here with the young core that they have to improve, get better, and make him want to stay there.”