New York Giants: Daniel Jones injury was worse than reported, says Joe Judge

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

One of the biggest things that happened to the New York Giants last season was the Daniel Jones injury. The team only needed one more win to make it into the playoffs, and they may have been able to grab that win if they had regular starter Daniel Jones for the entire year. Instead, as we all know, the Giants had to rely on Colt McCoy in some late season games and, with the exception of the Seattle win, the results weren’t great.

However, Jones might have done well just to get back on the field after his injury at all. According to Joe Judge, the injury would have taken most players out for the year and Jones fought hard to appear on the field again – even if he did so in a less than capable state.

“What I would say about the injury last year is it was much more serious than maybe people thought on the outside. I would say probably 90 percent of players in the league who would have had that injury, including quarterbacks, would have been on IR for the remainder of the year. That’s just the reality of it,” Judge told ESPN 98.7FM.

“It was much more severe than maybe he allowed people to know or the information that was put out there, and we’re going to protect our players by not disclosing everything about their injuries, to be honest with you,” Judge continued, adding that Jones won the respect of a lot of people.

If this is true, it might be worth giving Jones a break for not being able to come back in full last season. While his absence did hurt the team, it looks like it took quite a lot just for Jones to stay in the running.

New York Rangers Cannot Solve the Shorthanded Washington Capitals

The New York Rangers could not take advantage of the Washington Capitals missing a handful of players, including one of the best in the NHL. The Capitals trailed by one late in the second period but rallied to defeat the Blueshirts 6-3.

With Boston winning earlier, the Rangers have been eliminated from the playoffs.

The Capitals were missing a few players, including Alex Ovechkin, who only skated one shift in the first period before leaving the ice. Washington later announced that he would not return due to a lower-body injury.

Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ilya Samsonov also missed Monday’s game for disciplinary reasons while T.J. Oshie was out for a personal family matter.

Mika Zibanejad scored twice for the Rangers while Kappo Kakko added their third goal. Artemi Panarin had assists on Zibanejad’s goals.

The New York Rangers have a scrum with the Capitals Tom Wilson

Things got interesting in the second period when Capitals forward Tom Wilson was handed three penalties in the second quarter. One of the penalties was a 10-minute penalty for misconduct, after roughing Artemi Panarin and going after Pavel Buchnevich in the crease after play had stopped. This included a few punches in the back of the head while Buchnevich was face down.

Panarin had a cut above the eye and appeared to have hit his head on the ice in the scuffle. He did not return at the start of the third period.

After the game, Zibanedjad had this to say about the Wilson incident: “You should have more respect for the game and the players. I honestly don’t know where to start. It’s just horrible, zero respect.”

Head coach David Quinn also shared his thoughts on the incident in his post-game Zoom conference. “There are lines that can’t be crossed in this game. It’s just zero respect for the game. You have one of the star players in this game who could have been seriously, seriously hurt. It’s totally unnecessary.”

The two teams will play again on Wednesday at MSG.

 

 

 

The heated history of the Yankees-Astors intense rivalry

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge, Jose Altuve

The Yankees and Astros turned into a heated rivalry back in 2017. New York and Houston faced off in the ALCS with a trip to the World Series on the line. The series was unbelievable. It was full of comebacks, crazy home runs, and heartbreaking losses for both teams. However, in the end, the Astros came out on top. A seven-game series ended with a 4-0 victory in Houston’s favor. 

The loss was incredibly heartbreaking. The 2017 Yankee roster was seen as a “rebuilding” team. With the help of young stars like Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, they turned into a World Series contender. After overcoming a two-game deficit against the Indians in the ALDS, New York was ready for their shot at the pennant. They felt short, however. The Astros would go on to win the World Series as the Yankees sat home watching. 

In 2018, it looked like the Yankees might have another chance. If the Yankees and Astros both won their ALDS matchups, they would be back yet again. However, the Boston Red Sox stood in their way. The Yankees fell short in four games to Boston. The Red Sox then beat the Astros in the ALCS and took down the Dodgers in the World Series. 

The Bombers would have their chance at revenge in 2019, however. It would be New York against Houston in the ALCS once again. Many felt this would be the year the Yankees finally made it back to the World Series. 

They fell short yet again—this time in six games. A DJ LeMahieu game-tying home run late in game six wasn’t enough. Jose Altuve walked it off in the bottom of the ninth and sent the Yankees home packing. 

After the 2019 season concluded, something interesting was discovered regarding the Astros. They looked back at games from 2017 and heard strange banging from the dugout while Houston was batting. The banging started as soon as the opposing catcher would give signs. The number of bangs also varied. Through this, they discovered that the Astros were stealing signs. However, they couldn’t quite figure out how. 

This had fans going nuts. In 2017, the Astros won the world series. If they did cheat, that would’ve affected many teams’ chances at a championship: one being the New York Yankees.

The MLB launched a full investigation, and this story gained national attention. Astros manager AJ Hinch and several players denied these allegations. However, the MLB discovered that Houston had been using a camera in center field to steal signs. They had a whole setup in which an Astros employee would watch a live feed on a monitor near the clubhouse. Then when the employee saw the sign, he would convey it to the Astros dugout. Then someone would bang on a trash can. If they hit the trash can once, it was a fastball. If they hit it twice, it was a breaking pitch.

You can imagine this made Yankee fans’ blood boil. Not only did the Astros beat the Yankees in the ALCS, but Aaron Judge was outvoted by Jose Altuve for an MVP award as well. It became one of the biggest cheating scandals in sports history. 

Almost every baseball fan was ready to hit the Astros with loud boo’s in 2020. But, the Astros lucked out again. The world was hit with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the MLB announced that there would be no fans in attendance. 

However, now in 2021, the Yankees fans are ready for the Astros in the Bronx. It will be the first time the two will face each other since 2019. It was already a huge rivalry before, but now, it’s a can’t miss series. 

Tune in tomorrow as the Yankees take on the Astros in the first of a three-game series. Although the Yankee Stadium capacity is only 20%, the fans are still going to be roaring in the concrete jungle. First pitch will be at 7:05 pm EST under the bright New York lights.

UFC: Alex Morono steps in to face Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone

The UFC has found their replacement for Diego Sanchez. Carlos Contreras Legaspi was the first to report this evening that the promotion has finalized Alex Morono (18-7) as the replacement. Morono will step in to take on Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (36-15-1, 2 NC) this weekend at UFC Vegas 26.

The matchup comes together after a bizarre set of events that took place over the last week. Last week, we found out that the UFC had pulled Diego Sanchez from this weekend’s card. With limited details, the assumption was that Sanchez was injured and had to pull out of the fight.

However, we have since learned that there was a lot of issues between Sanchez and the UFC. After Sanchez demanded a release, the promotion let go of one of the original Ultimate Fighter winners. After the UFC removed Sanchez from the card, the promotion looked at several replacements.

There were multiple volunteers, but Alex Morono ends up getting the nod. Morono last fought in December when he fought Anthony Pettis. That night, Morono dropped a decision to Pettis. Prior to that loss, Morono had gone 4-1 since November of 2018 in the UFC.

Must win UFC matchup for Cowboy

Things have changed quite a bit over the last couple of years when it comes to Donald Cerrone. When the calendar turned over to 2019, Cowboy moved back to the UFC’s lightweight division. After the birth of his son, Cerrone was more motivated than ever to capture a UFC title.

Cowboy rattled off two sensational wins in a row that set him up for a title eliminator with Tony Ferguson. After a somewhat competitive first round, Ferguson completely took over and battered Cowboy. Cerrone blew his nose after breaking it in between rounds and the fight was called due to Cerrone’s eye swelling shut.

After that loss, Cerrone lost to Justin Gaethje and then Conor McGregor by first round knockouts. At UFC 249, Cowboy took on Anthony Pettis. While I thought he won, the judges gave the fight to Pettis which was Cerrone’s fourth straight loss.

In September, Cerrone returned to welterweight where he fought to a draw against Niko Price. However, had Price not been deducted a point, it would’ve been Cerrone’s fifth straight loss. Cerrone seems extremely motivated for UFC Vegas 26 and he needs to be. If he loses, it might be it for Donald Cerrone.

The Chicago Bears finally got it right in the 2021 NFL Draft

chicago bears, justin fields

With the 2021 NFL Draft officially having concluded, the Chicago Bears came away with quite the haul. First-round picks quarterback Justin Fields highlight’s the Bears class, but second-round pick offensive tackle Teven Jenkins projects to be a day one starter.

Chicago used its final five draft picks to add players who are expected to be depth options in 2021 but could eventually become starters down the road. What’s significant about the Bears draft haul is that five of Chicago’s seven draft picks were offensive players.

Investing heavily on offense isn’t something that the Bears franchise has been known to do. In what is a defense-first town, the Bears have lacked on offense. Between 2019 and 2020, Chicago’s offense was in the bottom half of the NFL in nearly every category.

Head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace both saw issues that the Bears had in 2020 and used the 2021 NFL Draft to address the issues. Sixth-round picks Khalil Herbert, and Daz Newsome will likely contribute on special teams in year one. Both bring an element of speed to the Bears offense that was missing in 2020.

Fifth-round pick Larry Borom can play either right tackle or guard. Borom brings physicality and toughness, playing with a mean streak. Borom may not start from day one, but he did showcase enough potential at Missouri to warrant eventually starting as soon as 2022.

The Bears offense-heavy draft has a single message: Under Nagy, gone are the days of Chicago being a defense-first franchise. The goal now is to reverse the trend, becoming an offense-first team.

The Bears have tried to become an offense-first team in the past. The Marc Trestman days showcased what was a failed experiment. Expect this time around to be different, simply because the Bears finally got quarterback right.

If Fields lives up to expectations, Chicago will have finally gotten it right. Not just the quarterback position but for the first time in the Bears 102-year franchise history.

Yankees: The week was Kluber’s, but the month was Cole

yankees, gerrit cole

Major League Baseball announced on Monday that New York Yankees pitchers Gerrit Cole and Corey Kluber were top of the American League in the month of April and in last week, respectively. The two are major reasons why the Yanks have managed to bring their record back to .500 after falling to 6-11.

To be more specific, Cole was the AL’s pitcher of the month, while Kluber was the AL’s player of the week.

Cole has been the most dominant pitcher in the American League this season, and that includes an impressive group of hurlers, with Tyler Glasnow, Lucas Giolito, Shane Bieber, and others also in the junior circuit.

Cole, who signed for the Yankees before the 2020 season, has a minuscule 1.43 ERA, 0.48 FIP and 1.77 xFIP while striking out 44.3 percent of the batters he faced to this point. For a starting pitcher, that number is awesome.

The right-hander has only walked 2.1 percent of the hitters he has faced so far, and comfortably leads Yankees’ pitchers in Fangraphs’ version of Wins Above Replacement, or fWAR, with 2.4. If he keeps pitching like this, he may very well surpass the 10-WAR mark, which is extremely impressive for a hurler.

Kluber rounding into form for the Yankees

Kluber, meanwhile, didn’t have a very good start of the season with the Yankees, and while he never allowed more than three earned runs in a start to this point, he did battle some command issued in the early going.

His last two starts have been encouraging, including an eight-inning, ten-strikeout scoreless performance against the Detroit Tigers on Sunday.

For the season, the Yankees’ free agent signing has managed to lower his ERA to 3.03, and although his 4.19 FIP indicates that he hasn’t been exactly dominant, he is definitely trending on the right direction.

Kluber had a fantastic week, with a 0.61 ERA in two start and 15 strikeouts.

Both men are expected to lead the Yankees’ rotation to the promised land this season, and if April is any indication, they are in very good hands.

New York Yankees Top 10’s: A history of great center fielders, is your favorite on the list?

New York Yankees, Mickey Mantle

The New York Yankees in their 109-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.  I’ve dealt with the pitchers, catchers, baseman, and right fielders in my other top ten columns.  In this installment, I will attempt to identify the great Yankee centerfielders.  With so many great centerfielders, some writers will differ in the order of their preferences.  Here are this writer’s top 10.

10. Curtis Granderson

Curtis Granderson would have been higher on this list, except his tenure with the Yankees was limited. Granderson played centerfield for the New York Yankees from 2010 to 2013. 2011 was one of the best years of his career. He scored an incredible 139 times and drove in 119 runs while stealing 25 bases. He was an All-Star, came in 4th in the MVP voting, and was a Silver Slugger.

9. Hideki Matsui

Hideki Matsui is another Yankee player the might have scored higher in this ranking if he had played solely in centerfield.  His time with the Yankees was shared with left-field in the last years of his career as a DH.  Matsui was a great contact hitter and shined at important moments.  In his seven-year career with the Yankees from 2003 to 2009, he drove in over a hundred runs a year four of his first five years. During his Yankee career, he hit .292.

8.  Ricky Henderson

Had Ricky Henderson played his entire 25-year career with the Yankees and had only played in centerfield, he would be closer to the top of this list, but he shared it with eight other teams in both leagues.  With the Yankees, he in five years had 326 stolen bases while hitting .288 and driving in 255 runs.  If it wasn’t for his stolen bases, he might not be on this list at all.

7.  Mickey Rivers

Mickey Rivers spent four years with the New York Yankees.  Rivers was a hugely popular Yankee with a cannon for an arm.  He had a fielding average of .985. He was either an All-Star or an MVP candidate every year he was with the Yankees.  The best years of his 15-year career were with the Yankees.  He stole nearly 100 bases and batted .299.  Few players could cover as much grass in center and run the bases as fast.

6.  Bobby Murcer

Bobby Murcer is one of the most popular of New York Yankees in the last fifty years.  Murcer played two stints with the Yankees, the first one from 1965 to 1974 and again from 1979 to when he ended his playing days in 1983. Murcer was a complete baseball player who shined in important moments.  With the Yankees, he hit .278 with 687 runs driven in.  He also hit 275 home runs.  On the day of Thurmon Munson’s funeral, he came back to the Stadium and almost singly won the game that night.  After his playing days, he would broadcast from the Yankee booth for sixteen years. The five-time All-Star died of brain cancer at the age of 62.

5.  Brett Gardner

Many sportswriters would put Brett Gardner further down this list, mostly due to his somewhat low batting average of .260. In his 12 years with the Yankees, Brett Gardner has been one of the most consistent players on the team, always on the edge of greatness.  Few Yankee players have left their guts on the field in every game.  This do-or-die player puts everything he has into every single game and is the heart and soul of the team.  His mentorship to younger players was never more evident last season when the club endured a historic number of injuries.  Gardner, through example, led many minor league replacements to greatness.  In his twelfth year as a Yankee, he had one of the best seasons of his career, hitting 28 home runs while having an incredible .992 fielding percentage in centerfield. Gardner has accrued the fifth-most WAR in Yankees center field history. He has long been an unsung stalwart of the team. He is also the only present player on this list. Below you will see some of the fantastic plays he has made.

 

4.  Earl Combs

Most Yankee fans are not familiar with Earl Combs.  Combs played for the Yankees between 1924 and 1935.  It should be noted that the top five players on this list have played at least 12 years with the Yankees and are generally considered not only Yankee greats but some of the best players to ever play the game.  Combs in his 12 years with the Yankees compiled a .325 batting average, and in five of his years, he batted over .342.  He also had a .970 fielding percentage in centerfield.  Combs contributed to teams that won the World Series three times during his career. This baseball Hall of Famer nearly averaged 200 hits a year while striking out an average of only 31 strikeouts per season.

3.  Bernie Williams

One of the most beloved Yankees is Bernie Williams who graced centerfield from 1991 to 2006.  In his 16 years, all as a New York Yankee, he compiled a .297 batting average with 1257 runs batting in a while hitting nearly 300 home runs.  One thing fans enjoyed was that Bernie was a doubles machine.  Bernie was a five-time All-Star, a six-time MVP candidate, and was awarded the Golden Glove award four times for his defense in centerfield. Bernie Williams contributed to four Yankee World Series wins.   Williams was such a good player that early in his career, Yankee owner George Steinbrenner three times considered trading Williams for other star players to plug holes in the team. Still, luckily for Yankee fans, none of those trades came to fruition.  On September 21, 2008, Williams made his first return to Yankee Stadium since 2006 for the ceremonies preceding the final game at the stadium. He was the last former player to be introduced and received a standing ovation that lasted a minute and 42 seconds.  In 2015 Bernie Williams was rewarded a plaque in Monument Park.

2.  Joe DiMaggio

With the top two on this list, we step into rarified greatness.  Joe DiMaggio is one of the greatest players to ever play the game.  Joe was nicknamed the “Clipper” and “Joltin’ Joe” spent his entire 13 years career as a Yankee.  DiMaggio is best known for his 56-game hitting streak (May 15–July 16, 1941), a record that still stands today.  His career batting average of .325 with 361 home runs is among the best in baseball.  He spent his entire career in centerfield at Yankee Stadium. Baseball fans remember him as a Yankee legend and cultural icon of the era. His nine World Series rings trails only Yogi Berra in team history, and his number 5 is immortalized in the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Yankee’s Monument Park. Being one of the more colorful players of his time, he is also known for his failed marriage to Marilyn Monroe.

DiMaggio was a thirteen-time All-Star and a twelve-time MVP candidate winning the coveted award three times.  Many baseball analysts believe that if he hadn’t missed three years in the heart of his career while in the military that his career would have been even better.  They also cite that the 457-foot left-center field fence in the old Yankee Stadium robbed DiMaggio of more home runs than any other player in history.

1.  Mickey Mantle

If the last four on this list leapfrog the bottom five, Mickey Mantle leapfrogs Joe DiMaggio as the second greatest Yankee in history next to the famed Babe Ruth. Mantle played centerfield at Yankee Stadium for eighteen years from 1951 to 1968.  Over his career spent entirely as a New York Yankee, he had a .298 batting average and hit 536 home runs and 1,676 runs scored.  The sixteen-time All-Star also was an MVP nominee 14 times.  He was the MVP in 1956, 1957, and again in 1962. Most sportswriters regard Mickey Mantle as the greatest switch-hitter in baseball history.

Mantle won the Triple Crown in 1956, when he led the major leagues in batting average (.353), home runs (52), and runs batted (RBI) (130).  Mantle appeared in 12 World Series, including seven championships, and he holds World Series records for the most home runs (18), RBIs (40), extra-base hits (26), runs (42), walks (43), and total bases (123).  Mantle was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974 and has a plaque in Yankees Monument Park.  Mantles number 7 was retired by the Yankee on June 8, 1970.

Here are a few more interesting facts about the “Mick”.  He hit two or more home runs in World Series games twice. He hit an unbelievable ten Grand Slams and hit six inside the park home runs, five in the old Yankee Stadium and one against the Chicago White Sox in the old Cominsky Park.

 

In selecting my top ten, I valued time with the club, performance as per Baseball-Reference.com.  Peak career performance and performance in postseason play was also a factor.  Special situations like changing career positions were also a consideration.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam

UFC books Sean O’Malley – Louis Smolka

Sean O'Malley

The UFC is finalizing a fun bantamweight matchup for their July PPV. Ryan Frederick was the first to report this afternoon that the promotion had verbal agreements in place for Sean O’Malley (13-1) – Louis Smolka (17-7).

The matchup will take place at UFC 264 the same night as Conor McGregor – Dustin Poirier III. This is a big fight for Louis Smolka and Suga Sean. Smolka is coming off of a win over Jose Alberto Quinonez in December.

O’Malley had knocked out Quinonez earlier in 2020. Prior to that, Smolka lost by guillotine choke to Casey Kenney. In his last five fights inside the UFC, Smolka has gone 3-2 with the two losses coming against Kenney and Matt Schnell.

This is actually the second UFC run for Smolka. Originally, Smolka was competing in the UFC‘s flyweight division. However, after he lost four-straight fights, the promotion let him go.

Smolka went do some some smaller promotions and won three straight to get back in the UFC. This is a massive opportunity for Smolka considering the name recognition of Sean O’Malley.

UFC 264 now features The Suga Show

Sean O’Malley is going to be looking for his second straight victory. We last saw O’Malley back at UFC 260 when he knocked out Thomas Almeida in the third round. It was a beautiful performance by the charismatic bantamweight.

The win was the perfect bounce back to his first career loss. Back at UFC 252, O’Malley took on Chito Vera. After starting the round well, O’Malley ate a brutal calf kick which caused him to roll his ankle multiple times.

Chito Vera was able to take advantage and stop O’Malley in the first. Prior to that loss, O’Malley had been 4-0 in the UFC. O’Malley has been very vocal about the fact that he still believes that he’s undefeated in his mind.

He doesn’t consider that fight to be a loss and even held up a zero when Bruce Buffer said he had one loss at UFC 260. This is going to be a very fun fight and whoever wins in July will likely find a ranking by their name the following week.

What’s next? A post-NFL Draft checklist for the New York Jets

New York Jets, Brian Poole

Draft weekend is over, but the New York Jets still have several needs to fill before they take to the practice field.

The New York Jets’ work in Cleveland is done. Nine names were added during last weekend’s NFL Draft proceedings and several others have been penciled in through rookie free agency.

But the Jets’ work is nowhere near complete.

That, unfortunately, is the macabre cloud that hangs over anything the Jets do until they start winning games again. The team has earned positive reviews for their draft weekend proceedings, one headlined by the offensive additions of Zach Wilson and Alijah Vera-Tucker. But it means nothing until they at least get back into the “in the hunt” column in those NFL postseason charts that emerge on game broadcasts circa the holiday season. General manager Joe Douglas has made it clear that he has a vision, but the on-field execution awaits.

The time is ripe for making further additions, as Monday marks the end of any compensatory pick matters when it comes to free agents. What else do the Jets need in the post-Mr. Irrelevant era of the offseason? ESM investigates…

Backup Quarterback

The Jets’ current quarterback group (Zach Wilson/James Morgan/Mike White) has a grand total of zero NFL regular season passes among them. It’s great that Wilson is there as the anchor, the latest name to fill the star-crossed role of franchise quarterback. But the Jets needs to bring someone in as both a veteran mentor and someone to have in case of an emergency. They had the right idea in the final year of the Sam Darnold era through signing Joe Flacco, but he’s in Philadelphia now. Darnold attributed the success of his rookie season to working with Josh McCown and it would behoove the Jets to find a similar solution.

Alex Smith might’ve been the most attractive option in both of those regards, but he opted for retirement. Nick Mullens, he of 16 starts over three seasons under offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur in San Francisco, is also available, but, at 26, he might not be able to provide the veteran mentorship Wilson needs in his debut season. The best current option might be Brian Hoyer, who was brought in for a visit in April. Hoyer, set to enter his 13th NFL season, spent last season in New England, his third stint with the Patriots, and credits his mentorship skills from working with Tom Brady.

“I learned so much and whenever I had a question for him, he was there to give me an answer,” Hoyer said in 2017 prior to a pre-LaFleur stint in San Francisco, per Chris Biderman of Niners Wire. “For me, the best way to be a mentor…was just watch somebody do it and do it the right way. And then when they ask you questions, you give them straight-up honest answers.”

Experienced Defensive Help

Anyone complaining about the lack of defensive additions over the first two days of the draft was roundly silenced when the Jets spent all but one of their Saturday selections on defenders. But the Jets are already packed to the brim with young projects at the top of their defensive depth chart, particularly in their secondary. Rookies Michael Carter II, Jason Pinnock, and Brandin Echols are set to join Bless Austin, Bryce Hall, and Javelin Guidry. The franchise-tagged Marcus Maye is set to work next to sophomore Ashtyn Davis. New York even found some solid pass rushing additions through the undrafted front, including Hamilcar Rashed Jr. out of Oregon State. There’s certainly plenty to be inspired when it comes to the defensive haul, but there’s no guarantee any of them can be day one starters.

The team could use some veteran help and the current free agent bank has plenty of options. Steven Nelson, one of the stronger man-to-man coverage guys, is still around after two seasons in Pittsburgh. Inviting in Richard Sherman, who endlessly praised the hire of Robert Saleh, for at least an interview would almost be a no-brainer. The Jets could also bring back Brian Poole as a reliable nickel prescience, one that remains on the open market after injury issues last season.

The Jets emerged from the weekend with several building blocks to groom and develop. But if they’re looking to contend in the immediate future…the playoffs still seem like a pipe dream but a decent opportunity to reenter NFL relevancy…they’ll have to add some veteran defenders that can come in and contribute immediately.

Blocking Depth

The Jets must be careful with their blocking moving forward. It’s great to see they’re anchoring Wilson’s blind side with back-to-back first rounders, as Vera-Tucker will presumably be working alongside Mekhi Becton. But they took only one lineman in the weekend’s proceedings, going with box score contributors after moving up to take Vera-Tucker. Undrafted yields like New Mexico’s Teton Saltes could make some headway but some veteran finds would turn the pressure up on an offensive line that’s set to retain three starting members from a unit that ranked 29th in Pro Football Focus’ annual offensive line standings.

It’s a hole the Jets have slightly dug themselves into, curiously opting to add veteran depth options (like Dan Feeney and Corey Levin) before the draft rather than after it as other elite talents came and went. Many of the names left on the free agent front are up there in age but can serve as stopgaps or provide some extra training camp heat. Former Green Bay Packer Rick Wagner could work on the right side while the Jets solve their center woes by putting Connor McGovern up against another veteran like Joe Looney this summer until they can find a more permanent solution for Wilson. Center was among the biggest problems during the Sam Darnold era, so any form of consistency they can with the newcomer, even if it’s only temporary, can start steering this ship in the right direction.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Vintage Jeurys Familia bailed out injured Edwin Diaz: the Mets’ closer will undergo testing

New York Mets, Edwin Diaz

Last night’s game was crazy from almost every point of view. It featured a New York Mets’ victory against the Philadelphia Phillies, 8-7, and it stayed that way because of an overturned call on a home run that would have tied the game, but the crew eventually ruled as a double after review.

With a four-run lead, the Mets decided to give the ball to their best reliever, who happens to be their closer, Edwin Diaz. It wasn’t a save situation, but manager Luis Rojas went with Diaz anyway.

The strategy did not work out for the Mets, given that Diaz conceded a base on balls and then allowed an RBI triple with one out.

After striking out Odubel Herrera for the second out, Diaz was about to get out of the jam. However, he walked another hitter and then reported back tightness to Mets’ pitching coach Jeremy Hefner, but opted to try and pitch through it.

That was costly, as it was when Rhys Hoskins hit the controversial double that was initially called a home run, thus tying the game. When the crew said it was a double, the game went from 8-8 to 8-7 instead, and Rojas decided it was enough for Diaz and brought Jeurys Familia.

“We were hoping that ball stayed in the yard,” outfielder Kevin Pillar said per the Mets’ official site.

The Mets ‘familiar’ closer

With two outs, former Mets’ closer Jeurys Familia struck out Bryce Harper no less, to end the ballgame.

“We trust our bullpen,” Pillar said. “We had the right guys step up and make some good pitches, and we got out of there with a win.”

Familia, who is among the Mets’ leaders in saves, has a 1.29 ERA and a 2.54 FIP in the early going, a crisp turnaround from what he showed last season and in 2019.

Rojas confirmed that Diaz will undergo testing on Monday. The hope is that the issue is minor and doesn’t require a stint in the injured list.

The victory, seen from that angle – potentially losing the closer for at least a couple of days – was costly. But it was a victory nonetheless.

“We’re a tough team,” Mets’ first baseman Pete Alonso said. “We’re a really tough team. Win or lose, we’re not going to make it easy. We’re relentless. And we finish games.”