New York Giants: Blake Martinez has glowing praise for Joe Judge

New York Giants, Blake Martinez

Going into their second season under Joe Judge, the New York Giants are one of the most intriguing teams in the NFL. After all, they almost made the playoffs last season despite a terrible early season and they remained in the mix for the entire year. There’s a certain allure around their head coach, not just because of his prestigious background working with some of the biggest names in the sport but also because the Giants showed more fight than they have in years during his first season in charge.

Headed into the second year, the sentiment is understandably positive around Judge. That begins with the players, and defensive captain Blake Martinez will be the first one to speak up in support of the head coach.

Martinez did just that when interviewed by the New York Post. He was asked about several of his teammates and offered his takes on them, but the questions also came around to the topic of Judge.

“Whether it’s a coach or a player, he’s gonna make sure he’s getting the best out of everybody,” Martinez said. “His number one thing is he believes that every single person could be even better than what people expect. There’s a lot of people out there that would pat us on the back last year. But all of us as a team know we’re competitors and we want to be playing further into January and continuing our season… There’s no complacency anywhere at any point, any tier of this team, and it starts with him and all the way down.”

It just goes to show the sentiment is good right now around the Giants despite the team coming off another season where they ended up with a top 10 draft pick. That, hopefully, won’t be the case this time around.

If the Giants do make a dark horse run to a better record and potentially the playoffs, we can be sure the leadership of Joe Judge will be heavily involved in that outcome. And, likely, more high level play from Martinez at linebacker.

He competed for the top spot in tackles last season despite not getting as much credit as many other linebackers. This season, that top spot may be his if his performance is similar.

Peterson Delivers Six Shutout Innings in Mets 5-2 Win Over Cubs

New York Mets, David Peterson

The series opener for the New York Mets and the Chicago Cubs had plenty of reasons why the Cubs should have won. They had won five straight, Jake Arrieta normally pitches well against the Mets, and David Peterson had been dreadful over his last two starts. Nevertheless, Peterson managed to bounce back to put together a terrific start to lead the Mets to a 5-2 victory.

Peterson pitched with confidence and like he had something to prove throughout the night. It was evident when he reached back for a 96 mph fastball to strike out Kris Bryant in the first inning. Peterson went back to attacking hitters instead of hoping the hitters make weak contact. In six strong innings, he allowed one hit and struck out three on 73 pitches. The strong start dropped his ERA to 5.60 after it was up over six heading into the night.

Arrieta had a career 3.03 ERA against the Mets and lived up to it through the first three innings. After holding the Mets hitless, they broke out against him in the fourth inning. James McCann opened up the scoring with an RBI single, and Kevin Pillar made it a crooked number with his two-run double. Dominic Smith finished off Arrieta in the fifth with his solo home run into the black painted area behind the center field fence.

Confidence in the Matchup

Manager Luis Rojas Smith batted Smith third despite being in an 0-for-20 slump which was a questionable move. Rojas trusted Smith’s 7-for-16 against Arrieta, and the Mets benefitted greatly. Brandon Drury drove in the fifth run with his pinch-hit single in the sixth inning. Drury is now 4-for-8 as a pinch hitter this season.

Trevor May was handed a 5-0 lead to protect in the fifth inning in hopes of working out of his pitching slump. Unfortunately, May struggled once again by allowing back-to-back home runs to Anthony Rizzo and Patrick WisdomMay has seen his ERA jumped from 1.83 to 4.57 over the last month. Luckily, it was all the offense the Cubs had on the night. Edwin Diaz struck out the side in the ninth to pick up his 13th save of the year.

Taijuan Walker faces Alec Mills in game two of the four-game series from Citi Field. The first pitch is scheduled for another 7:10 p.m. ET start.

New York Rangers hire Gerard Gallant as their new head coach ( Report)

The New York Rangers have reportedly hired Gerard Gallant as their new head coach.

Gerard Gallant will lead the New York Rangers at the start of the 2021-2022 season. The organization’s 36th head coach in the rich history of the franchise has been hired per Larry Brooks of the New York Post.

 

Gallant has had an impressive coaching career in the NHL. The 57-year-old began his coaching career with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2003. Following a three-year stint there, he went on to be the head coach of the Florida Panthers in 2014 seven years later.

His most impressive run was when he was hired to take the reigns as the head coach of the Vegas Golden Knights expansion team. He took the team all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals in their first season.  They would lose to the Washington Capitals but set a standard that may never be accomplished again.

In 2018  he won the Jack Adams award winner for coach of the year.

Coaching Record

In the nine years he has stood on an NHL bench Gallant has coached 541 games with a 270-216-4 record. He has appeared in 33 playoff games winning 18 while losing 15. He won the Western Conference Championship in 2017-’18 with the Vegas Golden Knights.

Gallant takes over for David Quinn who was relieved of his coaching duties following the conclusion of this Season.

Other names mentioned for that vacant New York coaching position were Rich Tochett and John Tortorella.

This is Drury’s first big transaction as president and general manager.  The decision to hire Gallant is critical to the team’s progression in getting back to the postseason next year.  Time will tell if he made the right decision.

Follow Frank on Twitter @RangerProud

Mac McClung secures workout with Knicks, leads 40 prospects in NBA G League Elite Camp

Texas Tech’s star guard Mac McClung is scheduled to have a workout with the New York Knicks on Tuesday, a source privy to the situation confirmed to Empire Sports Media.

The story was first reported by Jake Weingarten, the founder of basketball recruiting website Stockrisers.

McClung, who signed with Daniel Poneman of Beyond Athlete Management as his agent, is also expected to be the biggest draw in the NBA G-League Elite Camp in Chicago later this month.

The Knicks own four picks in the upcoming Draft — two in the first round (Nos. 19, 21) and two in the second round (Nos. 32, 58).

McClung has been preparing for the Draft in Philadelphia with noted NBA trainer Drew Hanlen, who also trains Knicks’ rising wingman RJ Barrett.

The 6-foot-3 McClung is coming off a strong junior season with Texas Tech, in which he averaged 15.5 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 2.7 assists with a 42/34/79 shooting split to earn the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and a spot in the All-Big 12 Second Team. He helped the Red Raiders reach the NCAA Tournament before falling to Arkansas in the Round of 32.

Prior to his Texas Tech stint, he played under Knicks legend Patrick Ewing at Georgetown, where he was named to the Big East All-Freshman Team. He averaged 13.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 2.0 assists and registered a season-high 38 points as a freshman for the Hoyas.

Known for his bouncy plays and rim-rattling dunks, McClung is an underrated shooter who has steadily improved his 3-ball throughout his three years in college. He started as a 27.7 percent three-point shooter as a freshman, then jumped to 32.3% in his sophomore year and 34.3% at Texas Tech.

McClung earned online celebrity status in high school with his highlight dunks and explosive scoring, eclipsing Allen Iverson’s single-season scoring record in Virginia High School League. Over the years, he has amassed more than 731,000 followers on Instagram.

McClung leads 40 draft prospects who will see action in the NBA G-League Elite Camp on June 19-21 at Wintrust Arena in Chicago. Snubbed by major NBA outlets’ Mock Drafts, McClung is determined to use the camp to raise his stocks in front of NBA and NBA G League scouts, coaches, and front-office executives.

All 40 prospects will be playing in five-on-five games and participating in strength and agility drills throughout the three-day event.

Other notable names in the NBA G League Elite Camp are Vanderbilt’s Scotty Pippen, Jr., the son of NBA Hall of Famer and six-time NBA champion Scottie Pippen, Georgia Tech’s Jose Alvarado, and Shawnee State’s EJ Onu, who shares the same agent with McClung.

Sports Illustrated included Onu, a 6-foot-11 center with a 7’3 wingspan that shot 40 percent of his 3s as a senior, and the undersized Alvarado, in its list of the biggest NBA Draft sleepers.

The top performers will be invited to the NBA Draft Combine scheduled on June 21-27 at Wintrust Arena and the Marriott Marquis in Chicago. In 2019, 11 prospects were invited to the Draft Combine from the G League Elite Camp.

Here is the full list of prospects invited to the NBA G-League Elite Camp:

NBA Draft-Eligible Players (College/Club)
Alston Jr., Derrick (Boise State) Koprivica, Balsa (Florida State)
Aluma, Keve (Virginia Tech) Lawson, A.J. (South Carolina)
Alvarado, Jose (Georgia Tech) Liddell, E.J. (Ohio State)
Begarin, Juhann (Paris, France) McClung, Mac (Texas Tech)
Brown, Chaundee (Michigan) McLaughlin, JaQuori (UCSB)
Burns, Jordan (Colgate) Mitchell, Matt (San Diego State)
Carr, Marcus (Minnesota) Nembhard, RJ (TCU)
Carton, DJ (Marquette) Omoruyi, Eugene (Oregon)
Cisse, Moussa (Memphis) Onu, E.J. (Shawnee State)
Cockburn, Kofi (Illinois) Pippen Jr., Scotty (Vanderbilt)
da Silva, Oscar (Stanford) Robinson Jr., Orlando (Fresno State)
Days, Darius (LSU) Simms, Aamir (Clemson)
Dickinson, Hunter (Michigan) Smart, Javonte (LSU)
Garcia, Dawson (Marquette) Smith, Mike (Michigan)
Garrett, Marcus (Kansas) Stewart Jr., D.J. (Mississippi State)
Guo, Haowen (Shanghai, China) Teague, MaCio (Baylor)
Huff, Jay (Virginia) Walker, M.J. (Florida State)
Jarreau, DeJon (Houston) Washington Jr., Duane (Ohio State)
Jones, Carlik (Louisville) Wiggins, Aaron (Maryland)
Jones, DeVante (Coastal Carolina) Wilson, Jalen (Kansas)

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

 

New York Giants: Revamped coaching staff might be able to fix the offensive line

New York Giants, Matt Peart

The New York Giants offensive line poses a huge question mark for the team entering the 2021 season. In 2020, the Giants’ offensive line was one of the worst in the NFL. The New York Giants’ pass-block win rate in 2020, according to ESPN, ranked dead-last in the NFL at 46%. Their run-block win rate ranked 18th at 70%, which is about average or slightly below. So while the Giants did upgrade Daniel Jones’s weapons in free agency, fans feel like they still desperately need to fix the offensive line in front of him.

The Giants barely touched their offensive line in this year’s offseason period. They added veteran guard Zack Fulton to the mix but failed to add any offensive line talent in the NFL Draft. The Giants are going to rely on their young offensive linemen to take a jump and see some great development this season.

One of the reasons the Giants feel confident in their young linemen is their coaching staff. The Giants feel like their new revamped offensive coaching staff will be able to get the most out of their front line and fix some of their deficiencies.

How the new coaching staff will help the offensive line

The addition of Rob Sale

The Giants started the 2020 season with Marc Colombo as their offensive line coach. Ben Wilkerson served as the assistant offensive line coach. Colombo was fired midseason, though, for insubordination as Joe Judge was unpleased with the offensive line’s performance and looked to make changes. Dave DeGuglielmo was then brought in as Colombo’s replacement before parting ways this offseason.

Joe Judge hired Rob Sale as the Giants’ offensive line coach this offseason. Ben Wilkerson will continue as the assistant offensive line coach. The hiring of Rob Sale is exciting as he is a coach that Joe Judge describes as an “energetic on-the-field coach and he’s someone who has a very strong relationship with his players.” Sale was hired from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he worked as the team’s offensive line coach and offensive coordinator. His background calling plays and developing schemes could foreshadow a greater role with the Giants in the future.

Coming from the collegiate game, Robert Sale has experience working with young offensive linemen. The Giants will be rolling out a front line that features three second-year players and two third-year players as starters in 2021. Youth means inexperience, but it also means potential, and Rob Sale will try to maximize the potential of these hog mollies.

But Sale and Wilkerson will not coach these linemen alone. Joe Judge rearranged the coaching staff to hyperfocus on the development of his offensive linemen. In addition to hiring Sale, Judge made some other important moves.

Pat Flaherty as an offensive consultant

Former Giants offensive line coach Pat Flaherty has joined the staff as a consultant. Flaherty served as the Giants’ offensive line coach from 2004-2015, winning two Super Bowls with the team and developing the likes of Chris Snee, David Diehl, Shaun O’Hara, Rich Seubert, Kareem McKenzie, Kevin Boothe, and David Baas.

Judge brought in Flaherty as a consultant for both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. One thing that Joe Judge noted, though, was the assistance Flaherty will bring Rob Sale as he develops the offensive line, saying, “Part of the strength is we’ve got two young offensive line coaches with Rob Sale and (assistant) Ben Wilkerson, and Pat’s a good sounding board for those guys to have.”

Freddie Kitchens as a senior offensive assistant

Pat Flaherty will help coach up the offensive line and so will Freddie Kitchens. Joe Judge moved Freddie Kitchens into a new role this offseason, promoting him from tight ends coach to senior offensive assistant. This will give Kitchens more say in the Giants’ offensive playbook and scheme development, but Judge explained that Kitchens will also work closely with the offensive line.

Head coach Joe Judge said that Kitchens’s “primary responsibility is going to be working with the front.” He explained, “tying into having two young offensive line coaches with Rob and Ben, I think Freddie is going to be an asset up front working directly with them and helping bring together the game planning, like all of our coaches will, but working directly with (offensive coordinator) Jason (Garrett) with some of the things that are going to happen up front.”

The collaborative effort

The Giants now have four coaches on staff whose primary objectives are to develop the offensive line along with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. With all hands on deck heading into 2021, New York might be able to see some serious development from their young group of hog mollies. The Giants’ offensive line should benefit greatly from this strong, revamped coaching staff.

Brooklyn Nets V Milwaukee Bucks Game 5 ticket prices down with Kyrie Irving OUT

kyrie irving, brooklyn nets

The Brooklyn Nets are preparing to take on the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 5 in Brooklyn on Tuesday evening, but star point guard Kyrie Irving will sit out with an ankle injury.

With the series tied at two apiece, Brooklyn will have to rely on  Kevin Durant to carry the load, a player who has proven his excellence over the past decade. Durant is more than capable of carrying the team in the absence of Irving and Harden, but any more injuries could stir a bit of trouble for a team that lost a two-win lead in the series over the weekend.

Reserve PGs, Mike James, and Tyler Johnson, will supplement the loss of Irving, with an expected healthy dose of Landry Shamet. Of course, losing a player like Irving, who averaged 26.9 points, 6.0 assists, and shot .506 from the field during the regular season is significant.

GET YOUR CHEAP GAME 5 TICKETS HERE!

Game 5 Ticketmaster pricing data:
  • Tickets in the 200’s level start at $80.
  • Tickets in the 100’s level start at $189.
  • Tickets in the lower level start at $256.
  • VIP Seats start at $818
  • Floor Seats start at $3,579

Non-vaccinated section ONLY AVAILABLE HERE!

The prices for the game have plummeted since the beginning of last week, dropping to below $80 for the 200 levels. To enjoy the game from the lower level, tickets start at $256, and VIP seats are under $1000.

With a win at UFC 263, did Lauren Murphy earn a shot at the flyweight title?

Lauren Murphy, UFC

This past Saturday on the prelims of UFC 263, we saw a pivotal matchup in the women’s flyweight division. Top six contenders went head-to-head in a potential title eliminator as Lauren Murphy (15-4) took on Joanne “JoJo” Calderwood (15-6).

The fight was extremely close on Saturday night. In the first round, both ladies were able to do some solid work on the feet. It was an extremely tough round to score and I could have seen an argument for either fighter getting the nod in the first round.

The second round was all Lauren Murphy. Murphy was able to secure a takedown early and she controlled the entire round from the top position. In the third round, Murphy was not able to get Calderwood back to the ground.

Both of the fighters slugged it out in the third round at UFC 263, but Calderwood clearly got the better of the striking exchanges. With that, the two went to the scorecards. It was clear who won the second and third round, but the first was very much up in the air.

I could have easily seen three outcomes based on those three rounds. All three of these were arguable at UFC 263: Murphy by decision, draw, Calderwood by decision. It all would come down to how the second round was scored and who won the first round.

In the end, two of the three judges gave the fight to “Lucky” Lauren Murphy. A massive win for her as she made it five in a row in the UFC.

What’s next after UFC 263?

As mentioned, Lauren Murphy has put together five consecutive wins in the flyweight division. The only one above her in terms of consecutive wins is the current flyweight queen, Valentina Shevchenko (21-3).

Murphy was vocal after her last win at UFC 254 in October that she wanted a shot at the title. Of course, Jessica Andrade ended up getting the shot and was thoroughly dominated by the champion at UFC 261.

Having won her fifth in a row, is Lauren Murphy next? Well, I have to say that I would personally give her the shot. She’s won five in a row and she’s the only one in the top four who hasn’t had a crack at Shevchenko yet.

Dana White didn’t commit to giving her the next UFC title shot, but he acknowledge that it’s a real possibility. Really, there’s only one other top contender who has an argument and that’s Katlyn Chookagian (16-4).

Chookagian holds a victory over Lauren Murphy and she’s currently ranked second in the division ahead of Murphy. However, Chookagian did get a shot against Shevchenko last year and was dominated by the champion.

I don’t want to see Murphy fight Chookagian again and I personally don’t want to see Chookagian fight Shevchenko again right now. I think it’s time that Lauren Murphy gets her UFC title shot. It’s a new fight for the division and Murphy has earned it with five consecutive wins in the flyweight division.

New York Yankees: Preview of the critical Toronto Blue Jay series

With each game, the New York Yankees lose, each series because more critical that they take that series as they have slipped to fourth place in the AL East, 8 1/2 games behind the league-leading Tampa Bay Rays. So far in the season that is only 16 games away from being halfway completed, the Yankees have been unable to dominate any of its rivals except for the Baltimore Orioles. Starting tomorrow, the Yankees will meet up with the Toronto Blue Jays in Buffalo. The hard-hitting Blue Jays are another team the Yankees must beat.

The Yankees have been playing very poor baseball in recent games with the hitting, base running, and pitching failing. Manager Boone is getting tired of reporters’ questions about why the team that was supposed to be the team to beat at the beginning of the season is performing so badly.

“We’re going to find out what kind of character we’re made of,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “We’re clearly in the midst of incredibly tough times. We’ve faced it throughout this season. And we’re going to find out what we’re made of and what kind of team we are. We need to step it up, period.”

As of this writing, the Blue Jays have not announced any of their starting pitchers for the 3 game series. The Yankees will likely face three of these starters. Hyun Jin Ryu 5-4 ERA 3.34, Steven Matz 7-3 ERA 4.26, Robbie Ray 4-2 ERA 2.45, or Ross Stripling 2-3 4.91.

Tuesday, June 15, 7:07 pm:

Jordan Montgomery will likely face Hyun Jin Ryu. “Monty” is 3-1 with an ERA of 3.99 with 65 strikeouts. He is coming off a no-decision against the Minnesota Twins. He allowed three runs in the game and went 5 1/3 innings. He last faced the Blue Jays on May 27th. He allowed three runs in that no-decision game, going 4 2/3 innings. The New York Yankees have won 9 of Montgomery’s 12 starts this season.

Wednesday, June 16, 7:07 pm:

The Yankees will have their best chance of winning a game in this series on Wednesday when the Yankees have their ace Gerrit Cole on the mound. Even if the conversation ahead of his last outing on June 9th was him allegedly using grip enchancers, Cole showed showed the baseball world his stuff. He struck out the accuser Josh Donaldson twice in the game. He struck out nine allowing only two hits. Going into this fourth start against the Jays he is 7-3 and ERA of 2.31 and an amazing 113 strikeouts.

Thursday, June 17th, 7:07 pm:

Michael King will start the last game of the series against the Blue Jays. He is 0-3 with an ERA of 3.77 and still looking for his first win after being called up to replace the ailing Corey Kluber. So far he has gotten two losses allowing 8 earned runs in 11 1/3 innings against the Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, and the Boston Red Sox. It should be noted that he got no run support in those losses. All three games will be televised on SNET in Canada and the YES Network, Thursday game will also be on MLBN out of market.

Demian Maia wants one more UFC fight against Nate Diaz

This past Saturday at UFC 263, Demian Maia (28-11) took on Belal Muhammad (19-3, 1 NC) on the main card. It was the final fight for Maia on his current contract and he was looking to call it a career with a victory.

In the first round, Maia looked decent. He was able to land some left hands and he was even able to secure a takedown. However, he wasn’t able to do much once the fight got there. Two of the three judges gave the first round to Maia at UFC 263.

However, starting in the second round, Maia couldn’t really do much the rest of the fight. His takedown attempts got sloppier and sloppier as he got tired. Muhammad was able to keep the fight standing where he was getting the better of the striking.

Maia would land some shots here and there, but ultimately, Muhammad was landing more. All three judges gave the final two rounds to Belal Muhammad and he was able to pick up the victory over Demian Maia at UFC 263.

As mentioned, this was the final fight on Maia’s contract. Dana White said after the event that this was likely Maia’s last fight. That said, Maia took to Instagram to say that he wants one more UFC fight and he wants to stand across from another legend who competed at UFC 263.

Would the UFC entertain Diaz – Maia?

Maia posted on Instagram after UFC 263, “Nate Diaz , I saw your quote on the press conference, and think you’re great too. You’re a great fighter who also represents Jiu Jitsu and you’re real, I respect that. Regardless of last night, I know I still have one fight left in me, and it’s no secret that I feel like UFC is my home, where I want to finish my career.”

Maia continued, “I have no idea if they will give me another fight, but if they do, I would be honored to do my last MMA bout with you, someone who always come to fight, who represents BJJ and whom I respect.”

Maia’s callout of Diaz after UFC 263 is completely based on respect as you can tell from the quotes. It would be a great way to send Maia off considering his tenure with the promotion and his status as one of the company men for the UFC over the last fourteen years.

That said, I can’t see anyway that this fight happens. There’s an outside chance that the promotion agrees to give Maia one more fight, however, I don’t see it being Diaz. I think the promotion has bigger plans for Diaz, but who knows, crazy things happen all the time in this sport.

Mets Game Preview: (6/14/21) vs. Chicago Cubs (38-27)

The New York Mets and Chicago Cubs begin a very important four-game series for both teams at Citi Field. Both teams took two out of three from the San Diego Padres over the past week, and the Cubs have won five consecutive games. The first pitch for game one is set for 7:05 p.m. ET from Flushing, Queens.

The Mets are almost halfway through the month and have a respectable 6-5 record and have kept their lead in first place. Francisco Lindor is back to playing like a superstar with a .310 batting average and .571 slugging percentage during June. Pete Alonso is also hot at the plate with a .325 average and .575 slugging to lead the offense with Lindor. Sean Reid-Foley is expected to join a suddenly weakened Mets bullpen. He has allowed just three runs in 13.2 innings pitched this season.

The Cubs have gone 8-4 during June, and Craig Kimbrel has been a significant reason for their success this season. Kimbrel is back to being the game’s best closer by striking out 45 in 27.1 innings and has allowed just two earned runs all season. He has also severely limited his walks to just three per nine innings pitched. Patrick Wisdom has been a pleasant surprise for the Cubs. Over 19 games, he has a .327 batting average and eight home runs. Before 2021, Wisdom had four career home runs in 43 games.

Pitching Matchup

David Peterson looks to wipe the slate from an ugly season. He has struggled severely over his last two starts by allowing nine runs in just three innings pitched. Overall, Peterson has a 6.32 ERA, and 1.51 WHIP over 11 starts this season. The Cubs gave him trouble earlier this season when they put up six runs (three earned) in 3.1 innings.

Jake Arrieta faces a familiar foe as he takes on the Mets for the 18th time in his career. He was great in his last outing against the Padres where he held them to one run over five innings. Arrieta did the same thing against the Mets earlier this season and has a 3.03 career ERA against them.

Matchups To Lookout For

Jake Arrieta vs. Dominic Smith: 7-for-16 (.438), 2 Doubles, Home Run, 2 Walks, 2 Strikeouts

Jake Arrieta vs. Kevin Pillar: 6-for-15 (.400), 2 Doubles, Walk, 2 Strikeouts