New York Giants: Dave Gettleman not on the hot seat, says Mara

New York Giants, Dave Gettleman

This season may not only be a make or break one for New York Giants QB Daniel Jones, but also Dave Gettleman. After all, Gettleman constructed this current team as the general manager and can no longer point to problems such as the previous GM’s players or a lack of cap space to make moves with. For better or worse, Gettleman will likely be judged based on how the Giants perform during these next couple of seasons.

That might lead some to believe that Gettleman is on the hot seat and that he’ll quickly be out the door if the Giants don’t make a significant jump in performance. Gettleman, after all, was seemingly close to getting fired along with Pat Shurmur when the previous coaching staff was removed. For some, it’s hard to imagine the Giants continuing to give Gettleman chances even after keeping him around following that.

But there’s a different tune from co-owner John Mara, who claims that Gettleman is far from being on the hot seat. In an interview with the New York Post, he defended Gettleman and denied the hot seat rumors very directly.

What John Mara had to say

“Listen, I was frustrated the first couple of years the way the [seasons] ended. But the combination of Dave and Joe has produced very good personnel decisions, be it in free agency and in the draft. It’s a very good combination. We’ve made a lot of changes to our football operations staff, added some talented new people. I just feel like we’re moving in the right direction,” Mara said.

If that’s not enough to convince you, the fact that Mara denied the rumors straight up should be.

“No, you’re on the hot seat if you write any more stupid comments like that,” Mara said after being asked directly. He’d repeat the denial again for added measure, too.

For better or worse, it seems like Giants fans are stuck with Dave Gettleman for the forseeable future. At least, unless things take a drastically bad turn this season. But with the roster improving and the Giants bringing back a more experienced coaching staff after Joe Judge’s first season, that looks unlikely.

Whether or not Mara’s stance is a good thing or bad thing is up for debate – but there’s no mystery about what that stance is.

New York Yankees Recap: Montgomery and the Yankees win a big one from the Rays

ryan lamarre, yankees

The New York Yankees entered the three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field after a heartbreaking loss against the Boston Red Sox. After a day off, the Yankees are hoping to at least take this series. They are 9.5 games behind the East-leading Boston club. The Yankees previous to tonight were 5-8 against the Rays this season. The pitchers for the game were Jordan Montgomery for the Yankees and Shane McClanahan for the Rays.

The first inning had DJ Lemahieu double in his first at-bat. The Yankees loaded the bases, but like so many times this season, the Yankees (Torres) hit into a double play to end the inning. The Rays did not score with Jordan Montgomery on the mound.

The second inn was led off by Rougie Odor, who ground out. Gio Urshela doubled easily. McClanahan had a wild pitch, and Urshela made it to third. Ryan LaMarre went down on strikes. Greg Allen struck out, leaving the fourth Yankee on base with nothing to show for it. At the bottom, Ji-Man Choi struck out. Randy Arozarena singled to left. Brandon Lowe at the plate a balk was called on Montgomery. Lowe popped out to LeMahieu. Mike Zunino ground out to third to end the scoreless inning. LeMahieu threw 51 pitches through two innings. No score.

The third inning was led off by LeMahieu, who flew out. Aaron Judge ground out to third. Gary Sanchez flew out to the warning track in right. At the bottom, Kevin Kiermaier ground out to third. Manuel Margot beat out a rolling ground ball. Franco singled to left with Margot moving to second. Nelson Cruz hit into a double play to end another scoreless inning.

Giancarlo Stanton led off the fourth by striking out for the second time in the game. Torres singled to center. Odor worked a walk for two on and one out, with Urshela coming to the plate; he singled with Torres being called out at third. LaMarre ground out with the Yankees standing another two players. Diaz led off the bottom of the fourth lined out to center field. Choi singled to center. Arozarena ground out with Choi checking in in scoring position. Lowe, with two outs, singled to short, holding Choi at third base. Zunino went down looking as both teams couldn’t get runners across home plate. No score.

The fifth inning was led off by Greg Allen, who doubled down the left-field line. LeMahieu singled, and the Yankees finally got on the board. Judge hit into a 6-4-3 double play. Sanchez walked. Stanton struck out, but the Yankees picked up a run. At the bottom Kiermaier sharply right to LeMahieu. Margot struck out, followed by a Nelson Cruz gound out. New York Yankee 1 Rays 0.

Gleyber Torres led off the sixth by singling with a line drive to left. Odor singled to right, moving Torres to third. Then, Urshela got a two-run double to left-center that split the outfielders allowing two runs to score. Interestingly Phil Nevers, the third base coach, had the red light for Odor, but he ran through it and scored. Allen struck out. LeMahieu flew out to right, but the Yankees tacked on two more runs.

At the bottom of the sixth, with new pitcher Chad Green on the mound, Diaz struck out swinging. Choi walked. Arozarena went down on strikes. Lowe hit a homer to left, driving in two runs.  Zunino walked, but Arozarena gound out, getting Green out of further trouble. New York Yankees 3 Tampa Bay Rays 2.

Judge against Kittredge led off the seventh inning; he went down on strikes.  Sanchez also went down on strikes. Stanton walked for the second time in the game. Torres ground out to third. Margot led off the bottom of the inning with Jonathan Loaisiga on the mound by striking out. Franco ground out to third. Cruz, who was 0-2 with a walk, struck out swinging. Yankees 3 Rays 2.

The eighth inning saw Odor against new Ray’s pitcher Jeff Springs; he walked. Urshela hit into another Yankees double play. LaMarre hit a homer to right-center to give the Yankees a two-run lead. Allen walked, bringing in new pitcher Luis Head to face LeMahieu. Allen stole second. LeMahieu ground out to right, but the Yankees tacked on another run. At the bottom, with Zack Britton on the mound, Diaz walked on five pitches. A wild pitch allowed Diaz to got to second. Choi struck out on a 10 pitch battle. Arozarena got a ground-rule double scoring Diaz. Lowe singled, and Arozarena when to third. Zunino hit into a double play to keep the Yankees ahead by one run.

The ninth inning was led off by Judge, who was hit by a pitch and took first. Sanchez walked. Stanton, with two on and no outs, struck out. Torres struck out. Odor then, with two outs, flew out to stand two. At the bottom, with last licks on the line for the Rays and Aroldis Chapman on the mound, Kiermaier struck out. Margot flew out to a diving Greg Allen. Franco walked. Phillips pinch ran. Nelson Cruz struck out for the Yankees win.

The winning pitcher was Jordan Montgomery, and the loser was Shane McClanahan, and Aroldis Chapman got his 19th save.

Ready-made Chris Duarte and his NBA journey appeals to Knicks

knicks, chris duarte

Will Chris Duarte fall on the lap of the New York Knicks on Thursday’s NBA Draft?

Chris Duarte’s road to the NBA was so rocky that a man of a lesser character would have been floored and quit.

But not Duarte, who traveled thousands of miles and took a detour just to reach his destiny.

There was homesickness he had to fight. There was a language barrier he had to breach. Then fatherhood — a life-altering responsibility — threatened to pull him away from the game just as when he was about to make his jump from JUCO to a mid-major program in Oregon.  

But through all of these trials, his immediate family and extended family stood by his side.

“They’ve been there since day one. Their support has been very, very important in my career,” Duarte said on Tuesday during his NBA Draft media availability. I was 16, 17 years old without money, without anything.”

Duarte scrapped and clawed his way from the bottom to get this far, just a few days away from reaching the top basketball league in the world. He remembered when he was at the Redemption Christian Academy in rural Massachusets, and he had to borrow a phone just to be able to talk to his family back home.

“My family’s support was really important. The phone calls never stopped. Every day, I got a phone call from somebody in the family. I’m coming from a very, very tight family. My mom talks to me, giving me advice, telling me life is not easy. You’re gonna go through a lot. You’re gonna go through life’s ups and downs, and you got to keep your head up and fight through it,” Duarte said.

“My brother from Canada sends me money sometimes. Not a lot. A hundred bucks, but it was already good for me to take care of myself over there at my high school,” he added.

Those challenges made him mentally tough that translated well on the hardcourt.

Duarte had to learn the English language first before he could showcase his basketball talent. All alone in a foreign land, he had to work hard for every opportunity.

There’s not a lot of success stories for players out of junior colleges.

But Duarte found ways to beat the odds. He made the most out of the opportunity, leading Northwest Florida State College to a state championship and two straight Elite Eighth appearances in the NCJAA. He capped off his Raiders’ stint with a JUCO Player of the Year award in his sophomore year that became his ticket to transfer to a mid-major program.

That’s when he got his Puerto Rican girlfriend pregnant.

“My girlfriend’s parents — when they found out we were having a baby — they told me to ‘go back to school and do what you gonna do. Finish school, and then you take care of your family. We got you.’ That was big for me in my career. I couldn’t be here without them,” said Duarte.

With new motivation, Duarte was determined not to waste his golden opportunity. Oregon Ducks coach Dana Altman, a former JUCO player himself, gave Duarte the exposure he needed in the Pac-12 Conference to realize his NBA dream.

He responded by showing out big time at Oregon as he became one of the country’s top sharpshooters. Over his two years with the Ducks, he shot 38 percent from the three-point range peaking at 42.4 percent during his senior season. He won the Jerry West Award as the country’s best shooting guard.

The combination of his toughness, shooting, and shot creation made him one of the top prospects.

NBA scouts view him as one of the most-ready made prospects in this draft class.

“I’m 24 years old,” Duarte told teams who worked him out. “If you want to win right now, go ahead and take me. If you want to win six or eight years later, go ahead and draft an 18-year-old kid and develop him.”

It was a confident pitch that he backed up with his solid play on the court as a two-way player.

His stock dramatically rose after deliberately missing the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last month. The mystery surrounding him had intrigued lottery teams such as the Oklahoma City Thunder (6th, 16th, and 18th), Golden State Warriors (7th and 14th), Charlotte Hornets (11th), San Antonio Spurs (12th). The Washington Wizards (15th) and the New York Knicks (19th, 21st) are teams on the outside looking in.

The Warriors loom to be his favorite landing spot after bringing him for a second workout last week. But the Knicks are reportedly looking to trade up, possibly to snag him.

The Knicks invited him for a solo workout last week that went great, according to Duarte himself.

“I met with the front office, Wes [William Wesley], Leon [Rose], those guys. The workout went great,” Duarte said. “I got better in the workout. I really enjoyed my time there. They want to know me off the court to see the person I am. They know what I did on the court in my two years at Oregon.’’

Duarte’s successful navigation of the challenging route he took to the NBA greatly appealed to the Knicks. He fits their culture and timeline.

“We’ll see what happens,” Duarte said. “My goal is to play in the NBA and stay there for a long time. So we’ll see what happens. I like the Knicks. I like Golden State. So we’ll see what happens.”

He had a great talk with the Knicks brass, especially with Thibodeau, who gravitates to tough, high-character players like Duarte. It seems there’s a mutual admiration.

“The Knicks are a great team. And we saw it last year,” he said. “Me and coach (Thibodeau) had a great talk. I know the way he wants his team to play. That’s the way I like to play, too.”

“He likes pushing the ball, playing hard offensively and defensively. That’s the way I play. That’s the way we play in Oregon. He’s a great coach, and he’s the kind of coach I want to play for. But at the end of the day, I cannot control that. It’s up to the teams.”

Duarte hopes that his unlikely and challenging journey to the NBA becomes an inspiration to the younger generations in the Dominican Republic.

“I’m very proud to represent DR. Not a lot of kids make it out. Just me, being one of them, being on the biggest stage [of basketball], it means a lot to me and my people and my country,” Duarte said.

And it will be more special if he ends up in New York, where it has a slice of life back home. Manhattan’s ‘Little Dominican Republic’ will be proud to have one of their own play for the home team.

“It will be great. New York has a big Dominican Republic population. I know I will have their support here. I know that it’s going to go crazy if I end up in New York,” Duarte said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Inside Ziaire Williams’ workout with Knicks: ‘World Wide Wes — that’s my guy’

ziaire williams, knicks

Ziaire Williams had a rough one-and-done season at Stanford, but he was impressive during his workouts. Will the New York Knicks reach for his high upside?

Ziaire Williams had a roller-coaster ride to the NBA doorstep.

Two years ago, he was on top of the world playing with Bronny James and Zaire Wade and high-fiving LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

“Oohhhh Man! I feel like that prepared me so much,” Williams said on Tuesday during his NBA Draft media availability. “The travel alone – we traveled like 30,000 miles that season. It was a really fun experience.”

“I had to meet great teammates who I call brothers now. I got super close to Dwyane Wade and LeBron. They were just super helpful to me in learning about basketball stuff. It was really just a blessing to be a part of that.”

He was clutch, and he was a leader. He was the best player in a stacked, celebrated Sierra Canyon team. 

Then came the rough part of the ride. He was in and out of the Stanford lineup during his lone college year due to medical and personal reasons. He showed glimpses of his potential averaging 10.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.6 blocks, 0.9 steals, with a 37/29/79 shooting split which leaves a lot to be desired.

The talent and potential are there. Like when he posted the second triple-double in program history with 12 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists against Washington last January. But the inconsistency he showed in his one-and-done season has brought a lot of question marks causing him to drop in some NBA Draft Boards.

Projected to go in the mid to the latter part of the first round, Williams worked out with 10 NBA teams hoping to erase those doubts and buy into his potential as a big 3-and-D wing. That includes a two-player workout with the Knicks who are eyeing wings and shooting in this draft.

“It was a great workout and it was intense. It was just me and another player I have little contact with. I love it there. World Wide Wes – that’s my guy, man! He’s a character,” Williams said.

World Wide Wes is, of course, the Knicks executive vice president William Wesley, the animated Leon Rose’s right-hand man. He embodies the Knicks’ burning desire to move up in the NBA’s upper echelon and has a big voice in the front office.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Tom Thibodeau, the team’s head coach, usually reserved with measured words and moves who served as the rock of a young Knicks team that went on a surprising playoff run last season.

“I met coach Thibodeau, all the guys. [They have] super great staff. You can tell it’s genuine and they’re passionate about their jobs. So, I would love to go to the Knicks for sure,” Williams said.

Then he quickly added before everything got out of context: “I would love to go to any team. I don’t have favorites. I just want to go to a team that’s the right spot for me, a team that believes in me and that’s gonna help me become the player that I could become.”

Williams spent time watching the Knicks last season, especially in the playoffs, where he saw the glaring hole he hopes he could fill if they select him on Thursday.

“I know they could use a wing who can shoot and is versatile like me. They’re very scrappy and gritty, who’s gonna defend before anything – that’s a big thing that Thibodeau preaches,” Williams said. “It all starts with hunger. So [what I can bring is] just playing hard and work ahead of the man in front of you. [Help in] executing the plays down the stretch, listening to the game plan, and executing as a team.”

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer has the Knicks picking up Williams with the 21st pick if they don’t move up in the draft. Sam Vecenie of The Athletic slots him to go to Oklahoma City at no. 18. Jonathan Givony of ESPN projects Williams to go to Atlanta with the 20th pick but noted that he had gained traction following solid workouts “that showed there’s more to his game than scouts saw in his disrupted season at Stanford.”

Williams prides himself on being a student of the game that may bode well in his NBA career. LeBron James was his first memory of NBA basketball, and it was a dream come true for him to get close to him. He also loved Tracy McGrady and Penny Hardaway. He marveled at Kobe Bryant’s competitive fire and looked up to Kevin Durant’s elevation as a future all-time great despite having a reed-thin body similar to his frame.

When asked if he has a list of players he’s excited to face in the NBA, his revealing answer provided a window to his mindset and approach to the game that makes you think the Stanford saga was just a blip to his promising basketball career.

“I want to play them all. I want to see for myself what makes them so good,” Williams said. “And then I’m going to back to the film and try to take the little details of the moves they used on me. That’s my thing.”

Growing up in a family with a strong military background, Williams learned at a young age how to stay disciplined and game plan to accomplish whatever mission he has set for himself.

“I know my first year, I’m really just going and gonna learn as much as possible whether that’s from my team or players from other teams. I really just gonna set the standard to follow a routine that I really want to set for myself for the first couple of years so that the rest should be easier and to have a long career,” Williams said.

Some prospects are fixated on how to impress teams during workouts and meetings. But while that’s also a priority for Williams, he made sure the learnings during the whole predraft process won’t get swept under the rug.

“A lot of things have popped up like when I was in Oklahoma City, the coach over there, we were talking about all the analytics and how I love to go to midrange. He was just telling me how the game has transformed. He’s telling me it’s better to be open-minded,” said Williams who took that advice to heart.

“He brought up the analogy of the Kodak camera. They didn’t do anything to improve so they’re now out of business and all the Twitter, Instagram stuff has taken over. So he was telling me the same way that if you’re not open-minded to changing and try different ways to get to the rim, that will kind of make your game obsolete based on the analytics so to speak.

“I can be just like Kodak, out of business one day. That was really helpful,” he added. “So, I just go in and learn and find ways how to get into the paint or maybe instead of the contested two-pointer, maybe stepback and create for 3. That’s just an example of something that I have learned throughout this pre-draft process.”

Williams has the right mindset. Now, it’s time for him to get his body right. At 188.4 lbs, he’s too skinny for his size. That’s one of the knocks on his game at Stanford, where he shied away from contact and couldn’t handle physicality well. Much of his upside is tied with his projection to become a long, athletic defender who can guard multiple positions.

But he’s just 19. His body will mature, and the hope is his game will follow.

Based on how Williams sounded in interviews, he says all the right things.

“Personality-wise, I’m energetic, super respectful, and a caring person. I’m all for the team. I play the game, not for myself but to win. I hate to lose,” Williams said.

His answer to the one question that always pops up during his interview with the teams makes him a safe bet in the mid-teens of the first round.

“They asked me what goals do I have, and I answered I want to be an NBA champion, first and foremost. Because I love winning. I’m more about sacrificing for the team than anything,” Williams said.

Spoken like a star role player in a contending team.

His roller-coaster ride brought him highs and lows, but the learnings along the way weren’t lost on him. It’s a solid foundation to have as he begins his NBA journey.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

The end has finally come for Michael Dal Colle, Josh Ho-Sang with the Islanders

The end has finally come for the Islanders with Michael Dal Colle and Josh Ho-Sang.

Yesterday reports came out that neither player was on the list of players to receive qualifying offers thus marking the end of both their tenures with the organization.

Ho-Sang and Dal Colle had their moments with the Islanders but neither lived up to the expectations that came with where they were drafted. Dal Colle only appeared in 111 games with the Isles over four seasons and produced 29 points. Ho-Sang played in just 53 games over two seasons, resulting in seven goals and 17 assists.

Both players being left to find new homes marks the conclusion of two of the biggest “what ifs” for the Islanders in recent memory. Particularly, Ho-Sang. From the moment he first donned an Islander jersey, it was marred by controversy.

When Ho-Sang was drafted, Islanders general manager Garth Snow sat at the dais with the TSN crew at the NHL Draft to discuss the organization’s pick of him. What came next took everyone by surprise. “He’ll fit right in, they shit on me too,” Snow said when asked about his decision to draft Ho-Sang.

That one moment was a coup for Snow — well mostly from his club’s lone fanbase — with the consensus being Ho-Sang was a potential steal for how he ended up falling into the Isles’ lap. Going into the draft, the Toronto native was considered an elite talent and might have gone in the top ten if not for some — how should we put this lightly — “attitude problems”.

We would learn over time those concerns were warranted, as Ho-Sang lacked the maturity it took to make it in the NHL. There were plenty of incidents — some public, some not — that just made things untenable and earned him a rough reputation in and outside the organization. The last three years alone, Ho-Sang only got to play in ten games and the organization even loaned him to Europe for this past season after leaving him off the roster to begin training camp.

Then there’s Dal Colle, Snow’s selection before Ho-Sang — although this one in the top-five — which had more importance and less backlash. Dal Colle was selected by the Islanders with the fifth pick and was projected to be the scoring winger the franchise had been yearning for to skate alongside franchise center John Tavares.

Unfortunately, the latter never occurred. Dal Colle took much longer to develop in the minors than many had hoped and never showed that offensive power he did in juniors at the pro level. He did find some success as a bottom-six forward under head coach Barry Trotz in recent years but never adding anything more in terms of value.

Dal Colle’s departure does open the door for a few other players — Kieffer Bellows, Anatoli Golyshev (both qualified) — to fight for a regular role for next season. That being said, he and Ho-Sang now can get a fresh start somewhere else. They’re each still young (25) and talented enough to carve out NHL careers.

Dal Colle and Ho-Sang not panning out with the Isles after how much was expected of them when they were drafted is sad. A lot of people were rooting for them to succeed. But things just never moved past a certain level for either of them. And now they’re both gone.

 

Mets are reportedly interested in Pittsburgh Pirates’ starter

Recent reports had the New York Mets inquiring about Washington Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer, who could potentially be available if the 2019 World Series champs decide they are too far off contention to go for it this year.

However, the Mets may not bring a top name for their starting rotation, and could instead focus on bringing one more medium-level arm to ensure there won’t be any depth issues. After all, they are very confident in Jacob deGrom’s health, and they seem to be pleased with Carlos Carrasco’s latest rehab start.

While Joey Lucchesi is out for the year, there is optimism that the Mets could have Noah Syndergaard back in September. As a result, they will probably shift their focus to a bat and a more modest starter, like Tyler Anderson of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Mets remain interested in trading for the Pirates’ left-hander, according to a report from SNY’s Andy Martino.

Martino says it is “probably too late to swing a trade for Anderson in time for him to start Tuesday night’s game against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field — the Mets’ starter is currently TBA.”

The Mets and the Pirates could swing a deal

Mets’ president Sandy Alderson is said to be very close with his Pirates’ counterpart Ben Cherington, and the possibility of a deal being reached is tangible.

Anderson is no star, but he can certainly help the Mets and give more depth to their rotation. This year, the 31-year-old southpaw has a 4.35 ERA (4.26 FIP) and 1.20 WHIP with 86 strikeouts in 103.1 innings over 18 starts.

He is also affordable, making $2.5 million this season and slated to hit free agency when it ends.

The Mets, besides Scherzer and Anderson, have also been linked with Arizona Diamondbacks’ right-hander Merril Kelly.

New York is still the top-ranked team in the NL East and intends to keep it that way.

Report: Knicks intrigued by Spencer Dinwiddie, DeMar DeRozan, but do they make sense?

Brooklyn Nets, Spencer Dinwiddie

The Knick seem to be in the fold for almost every high-profile free agent this off-season. With August gearing up to be an exciting month, the NBA draft should give a good indication of where the organization is heading.

Whether they target a point guard or shooting guard to fill a need, President Leon Rose will likely tailor his free agency strategy around their selections.

The most recent rumors indicate interest in Brooklyn Nets PG/SG Spencer Dinwiddie and SG DeMar DeRozan from San Antonio.

According to Ian Begley of SNY, the Knicks are interested in both Dinwiddie and DeRozan:

With that in mind, DeMar DeRozan and Spencer Dinwiddie are two players on the Knicks’ radar in at least some of their free agency scenarios.

Dinwiddie, a former second-round pick in 2014, played just three games last year after suffering a torn ACL. During the 2019 season, Dinwiddie featured in 64 games, averaging 20.6 points, 6.8 assists, and shot 41% from the field. It was his best season by far, but given his lackluster three-point shooting, the Knicks would have to be content with his style — driving to the rim.

The unrestricted free agent is confident he will bounce back from the ACL tear, having rehabilitated from a similar injury at the collegiate level. Overpaying for him should be a last resort. There are several healthier options that would be more beneficial.

As for DeRozan, who is also an unrestricted free agent, his talents might fit well in New York. DeRozan averaged 21.6 points, 6.9 assists and shot nearly 50% from the field last season. He has been traditionally healthy throughout the course of his career, earning four All-Star appearances over 12 seasons. As a primary shooting guard, DeRozan prefers operating in the paint while also contributing on defense.

As an experienced veteran, DeRozan has a few years of quality basketball left his bones. Signing him to a two-year contract could prove to be a positive move, but his lack of three-point shooting stands out. The Knicks do have Immanuel Quickley to fill that role, so bringing in DeRozan would give them a force in the paint and a quality passer to kick the ball out to the corners where the shooters can capitalize. DeMar would also demand attention from opposing teams, opening up the floor for Julius Randle.

New York Giants: HC Joe Judge isn’t worried about Kadarius Toney’s shaky career start

new york giants, kadarius toney

The New York Giants officially kick off the 2021 season today with the start of training camp. Absent from this week’s practices, though, will be the team’s first-round draft pick from this year’s draft, Kadarius Toney. The Giants placed Toney on the reserve/COVID-19 list after the rookie receiver tested positive for the virus upon his arrival to camp last Thursday.

Fans had strong reactions to the news of Toney’s positive COVID test. Kadarius Toney has barely gotten his feet wet in the NFL and has already missed numerous practices for personal reasons and now for a positive COVID test. In his first career practice, Kadarius practiced with one cleat due to an equipment mishap. He then skipped voluntary practices before being exempt from a mandatory practice due to a private personal matter.

That being said, Kadarius Toney has barely practiced with the Giants and some fans are concerned. There are even some fans going so far as to say that Toney is a “bust” or a “bad draft pick” despite the fact that he has yet to play a down of football in the NFL. Other fans are not as worried, and neither is New York Giants head coach Joe Judge.

Joe Judge on Kadarius Toney’s shaky career start

Kadarius Toney is currently isolating and participating in meetings remotely after his positive COVID-19 test. Many questions have arisen regarding Kadarius Toney. One of the most interesting: Is he more interested in his rap career than the sport of football?

Head coach Joe Judge has an answer to that question. According to Joe Judge, Kadarius Toney “loves football.” Judge is not worried by the shaky start to Toney’s NFL career. When talking about his rookie wide receiver, Judge said Toney “goes hard when he’s practicing. He plays hard.”

“There’s a lot of guys who are talented and they have some other things outside the building that distract them when they get in the building. We haven’t seen that with him.” – Joe Judge on Kadarius Toney’s focus on football (via NY Daily News)

As for the many criticisms of Kadarius Toney, Joe Judge does not feel like the concerns are completely warranted. Judge went as far as to say that the concerns with Toney’s start to his career are being “overinflated.”

“He practices hard. So that to me is really the measuring stick of what it is. And I think there are a lot of things early in this guy’s career that are, to be honest with you, being overinflated. It hasn’t detracted from the actual football when he’s involved with us.” – Joe Judge on the start of Kadarius Toney’s career via PFT

Kadarius Toney is back in the building

After testing positive for COVID-19 last week, Kadarius Toney is now officially back in the building. Many fans and writers alike were concerned with Toney and the shaky start that he has had to his career, despite head coach Joe Judge’s trust in his rookie receiver. Now, according to Joe Judge, Kadarius Toney is back in the Giants’ facility today for the start of training camp.

Joe Judge also made it clear that the Giants will waste no time getting Kadarius Toney back in action. The Giants will not be easing him into training camp because “the most dangerous thing you can do for a player is skimp on how you practice,” says Joe Judge.

“Whether that’s conditioning to get their bodies in the right position and build up the callous in their muscles… or practicing things like live hitting and live tackling. Anything they have to do in a game we want to make sure we practice, correct, repeat and practice again.” – Joe Judge on training camp conditioning

New York Giants fans will not have to wait long to see their electric first-round draft pick on the field. Kadarius Toney will be out there for the start of training camp. Joe Judge and the New York Giants will get Kadarius Toney on the field as soon as possible. Giants training camp kicks off today as fans eagerly anticipate the start of the 2021 NFL season.

Stipe Miocic annoyed by the UFC

MMA, Stipe Miocic

The greatest heavyweight in UFC history is not happy with the promotion. It would appear that Stipe Miocic (20-4) is once again at odds with the promotion and he expressed his frustrations yesterday on Instagram. MMA Fighting caught Miocic’s comments about the UFC title picture.

Miocic is being asked to wait for the heavyweight title picture to iron itself out. In a few weeks, Derrick Lewis and Ciryl Gane will be fighting for the interim UFC heavyweight title. The winner of that fight will be next in line to take on the undisputed champion Francis Ngannou (16-3).

Miocic last the heavyweight title to Ngannou back at UFC 260 when he was knocked out by Ngannou in the second round. That fight was a rematch from their first fight a few years ago where Miocic completely dominated a very green Francis Ngannou.

The second fight was completely dominated by Ngannou. However, with the series being 1-1, Miocic is wanting to run it back to get his title back. He’s talked about bulking up and he even talked about returning to fight for the UFC title by the end of the year. However, he’s express frustrations with the way things look.

Not wanting to wait on the UFC

In a response to an Instagram comment, the former UFC champion said, “I shouldn’t have to wait for a winner. I have the most heavyweight title defenses of all time. We’re 1-1 but DC (Daniel Cormier) got instant rematches and trilogies against me?”

Miocic has a legit argument against the UFC. He holds the most title defenses in the history of the division and even Dana White would tell you that Miocic is the greatest heavyweight champion in the history of the promotion. However, things have not always been smooth between Miocic and the UFC.

After Miocic lost to Daniel Cormier in their first fight, it took over a year for him to get the rematch. That was because the UFC was trying to book a heavyweight title fight between Cormier and Brock Lesnar. After that fight fell through, Miocic got his rematch.

Now, Miocic has lost his title for the second time and instead of getting an immediate rematch, he’s being asked to wait again. Miocic even contemplated a move to ONE with everything that’s going on. I’m sure this situation between Miocic and the UFC will right itself, but you have to feel for the former champion.

Yankees’ rehabbing prospect impresses in FCL return, could he be an option for 2021?

New York Yankees, Clarke Schmidt

The 2021 season has certainly not gone the way Clarke Schmidt thought it would. The New York Yankees’ right-handed pitching prospect went down with an elbow injury in February. At the time, he said it was minor and he would be back soon, but that obviously wasn’t the case.

To this day, Schmidt hasn’t been able to pitch with the Yankees this campaign. Diagnosed with a common flexor tendon strain in his right forearm, he suffered renewed discomfort in April and his rehab got derailed. He had to rest, then start a throwing program and, a few bullpens and simulated games later, he finally pitched against competition at the Yankees Florida Complex League on Monday.

The results were excellent. He pitched for three innings in which he didn’t allow runs and conceded just one hit, striking out five Rookie-level hitters.

According to Newsday’s Erik Boland, “one rival scout in attendance said his fastball sat 92-95. “Checked a lot of boxes,” the scout said. “Looked better than I thought he would.”

The Yankees’ prospect in on his way

That velocity range is actually very close to his regular one. In fact, last season in his brief cameo with the Yankees (three games, 6.1 frames) Schmidt averaged 95 miles per hour, mostly in relief.

All in all, Monday was a very encouraging day for the Yankees and Schmidt. However, it’s fair to wonder whether he will be ready contribute to the 2021 Bombers after all the lost time.

Because of the absence of minor league baseball in 2020, the prospect was thrown into the fire last year with only three Double-A starts under his belt although they were very good) in 2019. You could argue that he can benefit from some exposure to Triple-A hitters before the Yankees consider him for a spot in the rotation come September if there is a need.

Everything will be dictated by his workload, how much he can stretch out to, and his performance. This, however, qualifies as excellent news for the Yankees.