New York Giants under the most pressure to become playoff team?

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

It’s been too long since the New York Giants have been in the playoffs. The last time out, their trip was largely colored by the infamous boat incident involving the team’s wide receivers, and the Giants haven’t been able to get back since to set things right.

Not only that, but the Giants have had one of the worst records in the league since then and have fired two head coaches before landing on their current one.

Understandably, a lot of people ranging from the fans to the team owners are ready for the Giants to turn it around and start winning. Going into this season, they’re just as under pressure as any other team in the league, not just because of their past history in recent years but also their new additions.

Bleacher Report, in a recent list, considers the Giants one of the five most under pressure teams in the league.

The pressure on the New York Giants

This offseason, the New York Giants took an aggressive approach in free agency, signing wide receiver Kenny Golladay to a four-year, $72 million deal and cornerback Adoree’ Jackson to a three-year, $39 million pact. Both list top 12 at their respective positions in annual salary, per Spotrac.

Giants co-owner John Mara made the team’s 2021 objective crystal clear.

“It’s time for us to start winning,” Mara said. “That’s one of the reasons we spent the money we did.”

As the article mentions, Dave Gettleman’s job likely depends on the success of this season. Gettleman drafted Daniel Jones, after all, and Jones has more weapons than ever this year.

The Giants spent big in free agency with the goal of turning around their record and making it into the playoffs – if the performances this year are more of the same, we can likely expect the organization to take more drastic measures than just changing around the roster.

There’s not that many other teams in a similar situation to the Giants. That is, teams that have been losing for the past four to five years but made major moves during the last offseason to revitalize themselves.

Considering that, it’s not hard to place the Giants as one of the most pressured teams in the league. But it’s hard to tell right now how they’ll respond to that. After all, the team was projected by many to be very good in the year after their last playoff appearance. Instead, they were anything but that as the current run of losing began in earnest.

Tyron Woodley and Jake Paul agree to boxing match

UFC, Tyrone Woodley

Jake Paul (3-0) is getting a big step up in his boxing competition. The Athletic was the first to report today that the internet celebrity turned boxer has agreed to a fight against former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley (19-7-1).

Paul is coming off of a first round knockout over Woodley’s teammate and close friend Ben Askren. Jake Paul also recently signed an exclusive deal with Showtime boxing. The deal between Paul and Showtime is a multi-fight deal.

When the deal was announced, it was also said that Paul’s next opponent would be announced soon. With signing with Showtime Boxing, you had to figure that Jake Paul would be getting a step up in competition.

Showtime is not going to put on shows the way that Triller did. However, Paul has seemed up for the challenge in stepping up the competition level. After his last knockout victory, there’s been a lot of back and forth between Paul and the former UFC champion, Tyron Woodley.

Woodley fought out his UFC contract a few months ago and he’s been shopping around his options. However, he’s been very vocal about his desire to get in the boxing ring opposite Jake Paul.

Boxing: Jake Paul – Tyron Woodley

This is a huge step up and a big risk if you’re Jake Paul. He’s never been in a boxing ring with someone like Tyron Woodley. Yes, Woodley is a wrestler by trade, however, he has incredible power and speed.

We are going to learn a lot about Jake Paul in this boxing match. He’s not going to go out in the first round and starch Tyron Woodley the way that he did Ben Askren. I guarantee you he’s also going to have his chin tested in this one.

We’ve never really seen Jake Paul take a punch in the boxing ring. Let alone take a punch from someone with power and skill. He’s going to eat some shots from the former UFC champion.

To be honest, I’m very surprised that Paul took this fight. I figured he might fight Woodley eventually, but I didn’t think it would be this soon. This is an event that I will  definitely be watching.

Mets Game Preview: (5/31/21) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (19-35)

The New York Mets are back on the road to begin a nine-game trip, starting with three against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Mets will welcome back some much-needed players against the team with the worst record in the National League.

The trio of Pete Alonso, Kevin Pillar, and Seth Lugo all return to the active roster to begin the road trip. Khalil Lee, Sean Reid-Foley, and Patrick Mazeika. All three players are a massive boost after so many Mets have landed on the IL. Alonso will bring much-needed power, and Pillar’s remarkable return gives the Mets an everyday center fielder. The Mets bullpen did not need much help, but Lugo’s talent makes the group even stronger.

The Diamondbacks will be happy to flip the calendar to June after winning just five games this month. Their win against the Cardinals on Sunday broke a 13 game losing streak, one short of their longest streak. D’Backs pitching has struggled with the third-worst ERA (4.93), allowed the third-most home runs (72) and highest batting average against (.263). This should help a Mets offense that is one of the worst in baseball but is coming off an 11 outburst on Saturday.

Pitching Matchup

Jacob deGrom takes his 0.80 ERA back to the mound after a stellar performance in his first outing off the injured list. deGrom worked five innings, allowing one run, striking out nine, and using just 63 pitches against the Colorado Rockies. In his start against the D’Backs earlier this season, he pitched five innings and allowed just a run. Uncharacteristically, deGrom walked three and only struck out six, which resulted in him leaving with an injury.

Merrill Kelly pitches for the D’Backs and looks to close out an excellent month of May. He struggled in April with a 6.63 ERA but pitched to a 3.52 ERA this month. Kelly walked five in 5.2 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) against the Mets earlier this month.

Matchup To Look Out For

Jacob deGrom vs. Nick Ahmed: 1-for-10 (.100), Double, 3 Strikeouts

Justin Fields being the week one starter kickstarts his development

All offseason, the Chicago Bears have consistently said that Andy Dalton will be the team’s starter to open the 2021 regular season against the Los Angeles Rams on primetime television. On Monday morning, a new report emerged from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, saying that “they’re not going to just sit him just for fun or posterity”.

Fowler’s words convey one simple meaning: The Bears are leaving the door open for Fields to start week one and every game after that. Fields would then become just the second Bears quarterback since Jay Cutler in 2009 to start every regular season game in his first year with the team.

Over the last month, head coach Matt Nagy has continued to insist that Dalton will be the starter, with a plan in place to develop Fields.

“As we work through with Justin and where he’s at with this offense, we know it’s going to take a little bit of time here this offseason and as we get into training camp,” Nagy said via the Bears official Youtube page. “Andy is the starter. Andy is going to get the 1 reps.”

Starting Fields week one doesn’t just mean the 11th overall pick was the better quarterback. What it means is that Fields is ahead of where he needs to be in terms of his NFL development, which would kickstart his career.

Chicago’s anticipated plan was to have Fields sit for a few games before letting him takeover midseason. Don’t shelve the idea of Dalton being the starter week one but every report out of rookie minicamp suggested Fields was ahead of where he needed to be in terms of being an NFL starter.

While at Ohio State, Fields showed why he was considered to be one of the top QB prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft. A dual-threat quarterback who can hit any throw on the field or make players with his legs, Fields has consistently lived up to expectations while being labeled a pro-ready quarterback.

The Bears QB situation was interesting the moment Fields was drafted. With Fowler’s report as of Monday morning, the Bears don’t have a surefire week one starter but the state of the QB position just got so much more interesting in Chicago.

The Yankees get some good news on starting pitcher Luis Severino

New York Yankees, Luis Severino

The New York Yankees lost three games in a row against a weak opponent to end last week, but that doesn’t mean the team is bad or in a particularly compromising position. They remain in third place of the AL East, 4.5 games behind an opponent with which they will battle it out in a series to open this week, the Tampa Bay Rays. They do need to improve certain facets of the game, most notably an offense that has struggled to produce much this week.

The starting rotation, for the most part, has remained steady. Before Monday’s action, the unit had the ninth-best ERA in MLB with 3.45, and the seventh-best FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) with 3.48.

The Yankees’ rotation depth will be put to test in the next few weeks, as Corey Kluber went down with a shoulder strain last week. Deivi Garcia didn’t have a good start in his first turn replacing the veteran righty, but the Bombers are about to get back a critical piece for their aspirations: Luis Severino.

The Yankees can have a stellar rotation if they get Sevy back

The rehabbing right-hander, who underwent Tommy John surgery in February 2020, is nearing a rehab assignment. He is, according to Max Goodman of Sports Illustrated, scheduled to throw another simulated game today and could potentially start his rehab assignment this week, on Sunday, per manager Aaron Boone.

Severino has been making strides in the last couple of weeks, throwing live batting practice sessions and bullpens. He is already using his whole repertoire and could make for a nice addition for the Yankees’ rotation at some point in June.

“He’s in a really good spot right now. The stuff has been really good his last couple of outings and we’re encouraged by what we’ve been seeing,” Boone said.

If the Yankees can get Severino and Kluber back at some point in the second half, they could be very, very dangerous team come September and the playoffs.

The Yankees badly need to cut baserunning miscues

On Thursday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees’ catcher Gary Sanchez, who is among the slowest players in Major League Baseball, was sent home on a base hit. Predictably, he was out by a mile.

On Sunday, against the Detroit Tigers, Sanchez hit a hard grounder to shortstop, and the play resulted in an infield hit. However, Zack Short’s throw to first base was wide, and Sanchez turned toward second base, only to regret it and try to return to first base. He stumbled and was tagged before he could safely touch the base and the inning ended.

If they are going to put together run-scoring rallies like we all know they are capable of, the Yankees badly need to keep making costly outs in the basepaths. This past week, it was a killer.

“I tried to be aggressive on that play. It ended up being not a good decision,” Sánchez told MLB.com through an interpreter. “It’s something that happens. You understand it, and when you face it again, make a better decision.”

The Yankees lead the majors with 26 outs on the bases

The Sanchez’s out at first was the 26th on the bases, a figure that comfortably leads all Major League baseball entering Monday’s action. The Chicago Cubs are a distant second with 21 outs on the basepaths.

“As frustrated as I am, I’m not going to let a bad weekend cloud what I know this team is capable of,” Yankees’ manager Boone said. “We need to clean some things up. Not only do we expect more, but we’re capable of more.”

The Yankees are about to begin a key week to their aspirations, as they will host the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox, and both teams are ahead of the Bombers in the standings.

The Yankees don’t need to gift outs of any type, so when a miscue occurs on the basepaths, it’s especially frustrating.

UFC: Colby Covington said defeating GSP would be ‘Extremely Easy’

UFC, Colby Covington

UFC fans all around the world constantly debate who would win if you paired up champions of today versus champions of yesterday. For example, what would happen if Israel Adesanya fought Anderson Silva when he was in his prime.

One of the fighters that constantly finds himself in those debates is former UFC middleweight and welterweight champion, Georges St. Pierre (26-2). The former champion always finds himself in debates on who would win in pinning him against today’s champions.

A fun debate was always what would happen if a prime GSP took on Khabib Nurmagomedov. While GSP is certainly not in his prime, this is a fight that almost materialized and the UFC tried to make this fight recently.

However, Nurmagomedov is retired and it’s a fight we will never see. Another debate is around whether or not GSP could defeat Kamaru Usman. Could GSP’s style and skills compete with the elite welterweights of today?

Well, one of the best welterweights in the UFC certainly doesn’t think so. Colby Covington (16-2) said this week on the MMA Roasted Podcast that GSP would be light work and said there is no way that GSP could defeat him.

Who’d win in the UFC: GSP or Colby Covington?

Covington said of the former UFC champion, “I don’t think I could beat Georges St-Pierre. I know I’d beat St-Pierre. He was able to take a lot of guys down and hold them down and ground and pound. He’s not taking me down. My cardio is completely different. I’ve never been taken down in the UFC Octagon, so he’s not going to be the first.”

Covington continued, “His striking was very basic, very kindergarten. He didn’t have a lot of tricks. He just had that really good jab, but that’s pretty easy to counter if you’re moving your head and using footwork. I think Georges St-Pierre would have been a very, extremely easy fight for me.”

I will say this about what Covington is saying, GSP would definitely have to use more of his striking against today’s UFC welterweights. GSP really relied on taking his opponents down and controlling him during his dominant run.

I just don’t see him being able to take down Covington or Kamaru Usman. That said, I’m not sure they could take GSP down either which means it could become a striking matchup. With that, I do believe GSP could hang with either man.

Do I believe that GSP would be the dominant champion he was in today’s UFC world? No, I really do not. However, I do think he’d be in that mix of the elite along with guys like Usman and Covington. It would’ve been fun to see how a prime GSP would do against these guys who are at the top now.

The Knicks shouldn’t hesitate to offer Julius Randle a max-deal despite post-season woes

new york knicks, julius randle

The New York Knicks have been completely underwhelmed in their first postseason series since 2013. The Atlanta Hawks simply have a deeper team with more effective scorers, as they have completely limited All-Star Julius Randle. In their most recent loss and game for Atlanta, Randle scored 23 points, shooting 7-of-19 from the field and recording 10 rebounds. While he’s been solid on the boards, Randle has taken inefficient shots and hasn’t looked himself during this most recent stretch.

Ultimately, the Knicks are failing because Randle isn’t producing in crunch time, and it proposes the question:

Should the Knicks still consider offering him a max contract despite his most recent struggles?

The answer is yes, as, without Randle, the Knicks wouldn’t even be close to contending for a playoff spot, let alone earning home-court advantage to start the first series in nearly a decade. Finishing the 2020–21 season with 47 wins represents one of the greatest leaps and quality the NBA has seen in quite some time, and the Knicks are at the forefront of it.

Separating from their best player would make matters that much worse, so they should be looking to extend Randle sooner rather than later, especially if he pieces together another incredible season in 2022, which will raise his price tag even further.

With so much youth currently on the team, the Knicks have the financial flexibility to maneuver and add another talented player around Randle. They already have RJ Barrett taking a step forward in his second season at just 20 years old, the emergence of Immanuel Quickley, and a few quality pieces that can still play contributing roles. I would also love to see the return of Derrick Rose, who seems to be rejuvenated under head coach Tom Thibodeau.

If the Knicks can retain some of their best players this season and utilize additional money to sign another big-name, they can put themselves in a great spot to compete next year in a more proficient fashion. They have two first-round draft picks, money, and developmental players with upside. They have all the right factors making positive progress, so with the right coaching and direction, this team has the potential to be great in the future.

However, Randle’s regular season should not be overlooked because of four games in the playoffs. He averaged 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 6.0 assists, showcasing his quality at 26 years old. Considering how young he is (26) and the work he put in last off-season to make such an astronomical leap in production, the expectation is that he will continue to improve and be mentally prepared for the postseason next time around.

It would be a very Knicks-esq thing to do if they justified not extending Randle and tried to piece together another team full of journeyman and no established stars. It seems as if free agency might be a bit more tumultuous than previously expected this upcoming off-season, so they will have to pick and choose their battles, especially with salary space to utilize.

The Yankees need to put terrible weekend behind and move on: ‘We’ve got to get better’

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

The New York Yankees got swept by a team fighting to get out of its division’s last place, the Detroit Tigers, by dropping Sunday’s finale 6-2. The team struggled offensively all week, and the weekend exhibition also included two defensive errors by shortstop Gleyber Torres, who lost his temper in the dugout at one point.

“I made two mistakes; in that moment, I didn’t want anybody to say anything to me,” Torres told MLB.com after the game, after fumbling the two grounders on Sunday. “I know what I did. Mentally, it’s really frustrating for me.

“For sure, I didn’t want to make two errors in the same inning — especially right now, because we’re playing the way we don’t want to play.”

The Yankees were swept in Detroit for the first time since 2000, which makes what happened at Comerica Park all the more hard to believe. However, and as badly as the team is currently player, that year is associated with good things that happened in October. Will 2021 have a similar ending?

Will the Yankees be able to rebound in a crucial week?

It’s still too early to tell, but the Yankees need to pick things up quickly, especially this week, as they are preparing to face their two biggest rivals today: the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox.

“This is just a bad ending to a terrible weekend. We’ve got to get better,” Boone said. “As [ticked] off as I am — and as we should be — by the way we played, it’s a bad weekend. We need to turn the page. We have an important homestand coming up against some really good opponents.”

As things stand right now, the Yankees are in third place of the AL East division, 4.5 games behind the Rays and 3.5 behind the Red Sox. It will be a crucial week.

Yankees make big changes to batting order ahead of Tampa Bay series

nyy, yankees, clint frazier

The New York Yankees have lost four of their last five games, recently being swept by the Detroit Tigers over the weekend. The offense has been quite disappointing for some time, but the starting pitching has now begun to struggle, which was the only factor holding the Yankees above water the past few weeks.

Over the last three games, the Yankees have scored a measly five runs, allowing 15, showcasing their weaknesses in the batting order and desperate need for more offense of production.

However, ahead of the Tampa series on Monday, skipper Aaron Boone decided to make a few interesting changes. Devising a remedy to fix the most prevalent issue is not easy, but Boone has decided to bench Gary Sanchez and Clint Frazier, despite both being healthy and available.

The Yankees’ lineup for Monday’s game:

1. DJ LeMahieu, 1B

2. Giancarlo Stanton, DH

3. Aaron Judge, RF

4. Gio Urshela, 3B

5. Gleyber Torres SS

6. Rougned Odor, 2B

7. Miguel Andujar, LF

8. Kyle Higashioka, C

9. Brett Gardner, CF

The batting order is a bit different without the two, as Kyle Higashioka will get the start at catcher, and Miguel Andujar will play in left field. Over 132 at-bats, Frazier is hitting .182 with a .311 slugging percentage. He currently hosts a -0.8 WAR, recording just 24 hits and 13 runs.

Alternatively, Andujar has 62 at-bats, totaling a .226 average with a .242 slugging percentage. He has a -0.6 WAR with 14 hits and zero homers. He’s struck out 15 times compared to Frazier’s 42, representing a better percentage, indicating he lands more contact on the ball and has a better chance of getting on base.

Ultimately, the Yankees had to make a change at some point, and considering Sanchez struggles at the plate and behind it, Higgy once again will have an opportunity to showcase his abilities.

Boone is simply running out of options as the team suffers significant injuries and must work around them once again. This seems to be an every year event, and while Boone has worked some magic in the past to supplement losses, this time, things seem to be out a bit more serious without outfield depth. Trading Mike Tauchman seems to be a mistake in hindsight.