New York Yankees Recap: Hays walk-off in the tenth ends Yankee winning streak

wandy peralta

The New York Yankees entered this third game with the Baltimore Orioles, hoping for the sweep of the Camden Yards team. It was the last time this season that the Yankees met up with the Orioles. If the Yankees got the sweep, it would be the Oriole’s 100th loss of the season. Tonight’s game had Jordan Montgomery on the mound for the Yankees and Chris Ellis for the Orioles. The game ended with Austin Hays getting the walk-off chop in the tenth giving the Orioles the 3-2 win.

The first inning had last night’s hero Brett Gardner leading off for the Yankees; he walked. Giancarlo Stanton popped out to first. Aaron Judge struck out swinging. Anthony Rizzo flew out to right field to end the scoreless half. At the bottom, Cedric Mullins led off and struck out bunting. Ryan Mountcastle flew out to Gallo in right field. Austin Hays struck out with the Orioles going down in order. No score.

Gleyber Torres led off the second inning by striking out swinging. Joey Gallo blasted a homer off the wall of warehouse C beyond right field. Gary Sanchez walked. Tyler Wade also walked. Gio Urshela doubled with Wade going to third and Sanchez scoring. Gardner popped out. Giancarlo Stanton ground out to second, but the Yankees went ahead two runs in the game. At the bottom, Anthony Santander singled. Ramon Urias struck out swinging, with Santander going to second. Ryan McKenna struck out. Santander advanced on a passed ball. Pat Valaika flew out to Stanton in left to end the inning and strand the runner. Yankees 2 Orioles 0.

Aaron Judge led off the third, hitting the first pitch for a fly out to right. Rizzo walked. Torres popped out to right. Gallo lined out to first to end the half. At the bottom, Austin Wynns struck out swinging. Richie Martin singled to right-center. Mullins singled to shallow right. Mountcastle struck out. Hays ground out to first standing to Orioles runners. New York Yankees 2 Orioles 0.

The fourth inning was led off by Gary Sanchez, who flew out to left. Wade flew out to right. Urshela flew out to left. At the bottom, Santander led off and struck out. Urias lined to right for a base hit. McKenna struck out. Valaika struck out. New York Yankees 2 Orioles 0.

Brett Gardner led off the fifth inning by lining out to center. Stanton singled to center. Judge struck out swinging. With the lefty Rizzo up, the new Orioles pitcher was Fernando Abad. Rizzo doubled with Stanton going to third. Torres intentionally walked. Gallo gave it a ride, but it was caught at the centerfield wall stranding two Yankees runners. At the bottom, Wynns led off and struck out. Martin struck out for Mongomery’s 11th of the game. Mullins singled. Mountcastle at the plate, Mullins was caught stealing to end the inning. Yankees 2 Orioles 0, and it was an official game.

At the top of the sixth, Gary Sanchez faced new pitcher Dillion Tate and struck out. Wade singled to right. Urshela ground into a double play to end the half. At the bottom, Mountcastle hit a homer to bring the Orioles within one. Hays popped out to Rizzo at the screen. Santander stuck out for Montgomery’s twelfth strikeout. It was the first time that Yankees pitchers in consecutive games had 11 or more strikeouts. Urias walked. McKenna up signaled the end for Montgomery. McKenna faced new Yankee pitcher Albert Abreu and was pinch-hit by DJ Stewart, who struck out to end the inning. Yankees 2 Orioles 1.

The seventh inning was led off by Gardner, who tapped back to the pitcher. Stanton reached on a single off the umpire. Judge ground out to third. Rizzo tapped out to third for the final out. Valaika led off the bottom and singled up the center. Wynns struck out. Martin flew out to Gallo in right. With Mullins coming in, the Yankees brought in pitcher Joely Rodriguez. Mullins hit into the force. Yankees 2 Orioles 1.

Gleyber Torres led off the eighth against Conner Greene by singling up the middle. Gallo went down on strikes. Torres trying to steal second was out. Sanchez walked. Wade went down swinging. At the bottom, Mountcastle faced Clay Holmes and ground out to second. Hays flew out to Gallo in right. Yankees 2 Orioles 1.

Clay Holmes blew his first save of the season in the ninth inning, allowing Gutierrez to score the tying run. Clay Holmes got wild. He threw a pitch over catcher Gary Sánchez’s head to put the pinch-running Gutiérrez on third, and Pat Valaika advanced the runner with a hit to the left-field that marked the second out. Catcher Austin Wynns went down to his last strike, but Holmes this time threw one to the backstop again, with Gutiérrez narrowly beating the throw home that tied the score.

Wandy Peralta took over in the bottom of the tenth and allowed two more Orioles hits. The Yankees walked Cedric Mullins to load the bases before Ryan Mountcastle struck out bringing Hays to the plate. Hays chopped a 3-1 pitch from Wandy for the walk-off winning run off of Peralta. The final score was the Baltimore Orioles 3 and the New York Yankees 2. The winning pitcher was Cole Sulser, and the loser was Wandy Peralta.

 

 

 

Former Interim UFC champion Carlos Condit Retires

Carlos Condit

One of the more entertaining fighters in UFC history is calling it a career. Tonight, The Natural Born Killer’s manager confirmed with MMA Fighting that Carlos Condit (32-14) has decided to call it a career.

The last time we saw Condit was back in July when he lost to Max Griffin at UFC 264. That loss snapped a two-fight win streak for Condit which had him thinking about another run up the welterweight ladder.

However, Condit has decided that he’s reached the end at 37 years old. Last year was a monumental year for Condit. Condit had fallen on really rough times in the UFC between 2016 and 2020.

The former interim UFC champion lost five fights in a row and many within the promotion were wondering if Condit would get cut. However, the promotion gave him a shot on Fight Island and he picked up a win over Court McGee.

After that win, he fought Matt Brown on the UFC‘s first card on ABC and picked up another victory. However, he couldn’t string things together against Griffin and that was the final blow to his career.

Condit’s UFC legacy

Condit rose to popularity when he became the welterweight champion of the WEC. However, it wasn’t until his UFC run where things really took off for NBK. After losing a split decision in his UFC debut, Condit went on an incredible run.

He would win five straight fights culminating with a decision win over Nick Diaz to capture the UFC interim welterweight title. While Condit ultimately fell short in his attempt to become undisputed champion, nobody can take away his interim title.

The greatest fight of Condit’s career took place at UFC 195 in 2016. He went to war with Robbie Lawler for the undisputed UFC welterweight title. While most believe that Condit won the fight, Lawler’s hand was raised that night.

Throughout his career, Condit provided nothing but excellent fights and fun moments. One of the real ones hung up the gloves for good today.

New York Giants: Washington favored in pregame predictions for Thursday Night Football

New York Giants, Darius Slayton

The New York Giants opened the season as an underdog, and it looks like they will have similar circumstances in tonight’s Thursday Night Football matchup. The opponent is once again favored by the media, but this time the game carries higher stakes as it’s within the division and an 0-2 start is on the line.

Around the media, the general sentiment is that Washington has the advantage. ESPN in particular has a harsh assessment of the Giants, with only three analysts picking the Giants compared to eight predicting a Washington victory. Things weren’t much more favorable in USA Today, where all of the experts picked Washington.

These predictions come in spite of the fact that Washington will be stuck with backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke following Ryan Fitzpatrick’s injury. Heinicke is primarily known or starting one playoff game for Washington last season, but proved that he can be a servicable backup option by throwing for 306 yards with one touchdown and one interception, while also rushing for one touchdown.

The Giants still have their work cut out for them despite facing a backup. Their own offensive struggles will negate much of the advantage gained, if there isn’t an improvement from last time out.

And Evan Engram and Shane Lemieux missing this game is a reminder that the Giants are still dealing with injury problems. Even Saquon Barkley’s status is questionable going into this game, despite his important role in the offense.

Notably, the Giants have a chance to either get to .500 or succumb to yet another 0-2 start with this game.

While many are betting against them right now, it should be expected that the team will be aware of these stakes and play like they have their backs to the wall. If they fail to change the narrative by doing that and turning things around, we can expect the conversations between this game and their next outing to take an even more negative turn than they did following the opening loss.

Jake Paul issues boxing challenge to Dana White and Jorge Masivdal

jake paul

Just a few weeks ago, Jake Paul (4-0) won a boxing match against former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. It was the first time that Paul was in the ring against someone who could actually do damage against him.

In fact, it was the first time in Paul’s boxing career that we actually saw him in trouble. At one point in the match, Woodley appeared to have rocked Paul. However, the tentative style of Woodley ultimately cost him on the scorecards.

This past weekend, Triller put on a boxing event where Anderson Silva (34-11, 1 NC MMA) knocked out Tito Ortiz in the first round. It was Silva’s second appearance in the boxing ring this year following his victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr back in June.

After The Contender Series this week, Dana White was asked by the media his thoughts on Jake Paul as well as Anderson Silva. White made it clear that he doesn’t believe that Paul will call out The Spider for his next matchup.

Paul’s Boxing Callout

The UFC President pointed to the fact that Anderson Silva is Jake Paul’s size and he pointed to the fact that he’s actually good at boxing when speaking to the media. Jake Paul has seemingly agreed with White in that he’s not interested in boxing Anderson Silva next.

Instead, Paul is focused on guys who are on the UFC roster. Most notably, Jake Paul wants a shot at the UFC’s BMF, Jorge Masvidal (35-15). Masvidal is coming off of a failed attempt to become welterweight champion back in April.

Gamebred has made it known that he wants to having a boxing match with Jake Paul after some recent back-and-forth over social media. However, White reiterated the fact that Masvidal is under contract with the UFC so it wouldn’t happen.

Paul challenged White and Masvidal over Twitter. A tweet that is likely not going to draw a response from the UFC President. In reality, Jake Paul’s next opponent likely won’t have anything to do with the UFC.

I can’t see him taking a fight with Anderson Silva and I also don’t see him getting Masvidal next. In actuality, Jake Paul is likely going to be boxing Tommy Fury next. If he gets through that one, then perhaps we see another UFC guy take him on.

New York Yankee Player Profiles: Is veteran Brett Gardner becoming Mr. September?

At the end of the New York Yankees’ 2020 season, many, if not most, Yankee fans felt Brett Gardner’s time with the Yankees was coming to a close. Just days before the start of the 2021 season Gardner still had not been re-signed, but in the final days of the offseason, Gardner and the Yankees came to a deal bringing the 14-year veteran back for yet another year. Most of this was powered by Gardner’s desire to play at least one more year with fans in the stands.

When the Yankees resigned him, the plan was to use him as a versatile bench player. The reality is that he has been anything but that, playing in 124 games to date, mostly due to the need to have him on the field with the many outfield injuries, especially to Aaron Hicks and Clint Frazier, causing Gardner to be the teams’ everyday centerfielder. But now, in the postseason run, Gardner has become a must-be in the lineup, hitting .325 in September. For some fleeting reason, Gardner has heated up in September and has helped the Yankees reach the postseason in the last three seasons.

Like the heralded legend Yogi Berra once quipped, “it’s not over till it’s over.” Though never the team’s superstar, Gardner shows us he still has much to give the Yankees, excellent defense, excellent baserunning, and, yes, hitting. Last night in the ninth, Brett Gardner’s bloop single gave the Yankees the win. He went 3 for 4 with 2 singles and a double driving in two of the Yankees 4 runs. Mister September?

When the terms of the Gardner deal were made known, Jon Heyman of the MLB Network reported that the contract includes $1.85 million and a $1 million signing bonus in 2021 as well a player and a club option for 2022. Gardner’s player option in 2022 would be worth $2.3 million and would convert to a $7.15 million club option or $1.15 million buyout if it is not exercised. This means we may not be seeing the last of the Yankees’ only holdover from the 2009 World Series winning season, especially if he is a high-impact player for the rest of the 2021 season.

For newer Yankee fans and those not born when he started his career with the Yankees, here is his story and path to the Yankees. After eleven years in the majors with the New York Yankees, Brett Gardner had one of his best seasons in 2019.  He is already the veteran heart and soul of the New York Yankees. For those that think Brett is washed up, he had an above-average season. In 2019 he had 123 hits and 74 runs batted in, his third-best RBI record with the Yankees. He also hit a career-high 28 home runs, making him a power threat. Gardner was clutch in many of his hits. His speed on the bases and in the field was as good as ever.

Fast forward to the 2020 season. Brett’s performance dropped off considerably, as it happened with many players during the shortened coronavirus season. One difference was that it was the last year of his contract, and the New York Yankees would have to decide whether to exercise his $10 million option for the 2021 season. They did not and bought him out for $2.5 million, making him a free agent.

Gardner always said he wanted to come back to the Yankees and retire as a Yankee. After no fans in the stands, Gardner wanted to play another season so his family could see him play again. As the offseason lingered, no offer came from the Yankees. Gardner had to decide whether to investigate other interested teams or if he should retire. Gardner held fast to the idea he could return to the Yankees. Finally, just before spring training, he got an offer from the Yankees that he accepted. After all, he is the defacto captain of the New York Yankees.

At spring training at the George M. Steinbrenner training facility in St. Petersburg, Florida, Gardner was happy as a lark and excited to contribute to the 2021 season. However, this season will be like no other; he will not be in the starting lineup but playing from the bench. Clint Fraziers excellent play last season took his everyday outfield job away and threatened his return to the team.  He is happy for Frazier, but he holds no hard feelings. Although that was the plan with Frazier and Aaron Hicks out of the picture due to injuries, he found himself as an everyday player. At the time of his new contract, he said:

 

 

“Whatever the team needs me to do to help on a daily basis, I’ll be ready. Whatever my role is, I accept it.”

On a farm in Holly Hill, South Carolina, a boy was born to Jerry and Faye Gardner on August 24, 1983. That son was Brett Gardner. Brett grew up on that farm in his Dad’s shadow, a minor league baseball player in the Philadelphia Phillies organization. So it was natural that Brett would play baseball for the local American Legion post and play the game when he attended Holly Hill Academy. When he attended the College of Charleston in 2001, he decided to try out for their baseball team as a walk-on.

He ended up playing 3 years as a starter for the team. In his senior year, he batted .447, tied for the most hits in all of college baseball with 122, established a Cougars record with 85 runs scored, and led the Southern Conference with 38 stolen bases. After his senior year, the Yankees selected Brett in the third round of the draft.

From 2005 to 2006, he played for the New York Penn League and Florida State League. In 2007 he played for the Trenton Thunder; he broke a bone
in his hand but still managed to hit five triples and batted .300 with a
.392 OBP before being promoted to the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders. On June 30, 2008, Gardner was called up and made his major league debut, batting leadoff and going 0-for-3 with a stolen base.

On September 21, 2008, Gardner scored the final run of Major League Baseball in old Yankee Stadium history as a pinch-runner for Jason Giambi, scoring on a sacrifice fly by Robinson Canó in the seventh inning of an eventual 7–3 win for the Yankees over the Baltimore Orioles.

Brett has spent most of his career in the left outfield and as a leadoff
batter due to his speed and ability to steal bases. When Curtis Granderson suffered an injury in 2013, Brett moved to the center field to excel. Although Brett will never be under consideration for the Hall of Fame, he has certainly excelled with the Yankees winning the Fielding Bible Award in 2010, 2011, and 2017. He was an All-Star in 2015, was AL Stolen base leader in 2011, AL triples leader in 2013, Gold Glove winner in 2016, and earned a World Series Champion ring in 2009.

Brett’s stats have been declining a bit in the last few years as he ages but is still the heart and soul of the New York Yankees. When Brett steps to the plate, he is going to run up pitches for whoever is pitching. He is the most disciplined Yankee at the plate, making contact on 93% of his swings. No player has played harder than Brett, and that continues to this day. Even though he hasn’t been a star in the last few years, he has always heated up toward the end of the season. This year is no different. He is hitting .325 for September.

In 2019 he was instrumental in holding the New York Yankees injury-riddled and ragtag team together just by his presence and work ethic, teaching many minor leaguers playing for the first time in the stadium, what it means to be a Yankee, and inspiring them to play to their
best abilities. His efforts and that of all of the Yankees won them 103 games and a trip to the postseason. He was one of only two players that did not go on the IL.

The New York Yankees signed Brett to a one-year contract with a team option for the 2021 season during the offseason. Not having to worry about a long 162 game season, Brett may have gone full strength from the start and have another excellent season for the Yankees. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, as he couldn’t recapture his 2019 season. At the end of the season, his contract was bought out.  Strength was not an issue, but his hitting was; he finished the season playing in all but eleven games. He batted only .228 with five home runs, putting his return to the team in question.

Brett spends the offseason away from New York near his Dad’s 2,600-acre farm. Brett recently talked about spending the shutdown time helping out his Dad. Brett and his wife live in Summerville, South Carolina. Brett and his wife Jessica have two boys, Abraham, born in 2008, and Peter, born in 2010. At age 37, his playing years may be coming to an end, but he will always be remembered as a guy who put everything he had into every game.

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

What drives Julius Randle: Winning NBA MVP and ending Knicks’ title drought

new york knicks, julius randle

Julius Randle had been counted out several times in his career.

Just last year, most Knicks fans wanted him out of New York. But he used the disappointing 2019-20 as his motivation to bring out the best in him.

With the backing of a new front office led by Leon Rose and a new coach in Tom Thibodeau, Randle did exactly that and carried the Knicks to the playoffs for the first time in eight years.

It was a dramatic improvement, a rarity in the NBA for players like Randle, who had drifted from team to team trying to find his footing in the league. He found a home in New York.

It was a season of many firsts for Randle: first NBA All-Star, first NBA playoffs, first individual award with the Most Improved Player, and the first selection in any All-NBA team.

“People really thought I had a great year last year. What continues to drive me is knowing that I have so much room to improve,” Randle said in the Mobil 1 Series “Behind the Drive”.

“Things like the Most Improved Player of the Year award show you my dedication and hard work. I think I’m just scratching the surface. This was the culmination of years and years of dedication and hard work.”

After a breakthrough season in the NBA, Randle has no plans of slowing down. Even after locking up a $117 million, four-year extension with the Knicks.

He has set lofty goals for himself during the duration of that deal.

“The next accolade would be the MVP, man,” Randle boldly declared. “I think that would be fitting. I think the ultimate goal is bringing a championship to the city of New York. So that’s what really drives me every day.”

The Knicks haven’t won an NBA championship since 1973. After their last NBA Finals appearance in 1999, what followed next was a long stretch of mediocrity and futility.

Randle vowed to change that.

The 26-year old forward learned life lessons at an early age that made him driven and ambitious.

“I felt like I always had that drive whether it comes from people that I look up to or my idols growing up like my mom seeing how hard she worked on a daily basis to provide for me and my sister,” Randle said.

Carolyn Kyles was a single mother who raised Julius and his older sister Nastassia to become tough and resilient. Kyles, a 6-foot-2 former basketball player for the University of Texas Arlington, schooled him on the court when he was young.

“My mom was definitely hard on me,” Randle said.

His mother and his sister would always beat him that make him cry.

“She would always kick my butt and it would truly upset me and I would be in tears. Honestly, it was a great lesson about determination and just pure will,” Randle said.

Those moments toughened up Randle, who grew up into a 6-foot-9 bully on the court in Kentucky that led him to become the Los Angeles Lakers’ lottery pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. He was thrilled to have played with the late Kobe Bryant, who was his idol growing up.

“I studied everything about Kobe growing up. When I got to L.A. as a rookie, I was really excited just to practice with him,” Randle said. “He called me up at 5 a.m., 6 a.m. bringing me all the way out to Orange County to work out. And just to have that example and be able to ask questions to a basketball genius was like ‘what more could I ask for?’

If Randle learned toughness and determination from his mother, he learned how to channel that to productivity on the court and improve every summer from Kobe.

“One of the things that I really learned from Kobe was when going to the summer, you list the things that you want to improve on — focus on one or two things. That’s what I did last summer. I was very specific about how I wanted to get better. And I’m doing the same thing this year focusing on footwork and finishing at the rim. Those little things could make the biggest difference,” Randle said.

Last summer, Randle focused on sharpening his shooting after a down year in 2019. The result was a dramatic 13-percent jump, leading to a career-high 41.1 percent shooting clip from long range last season. With the work he put in this summer coupled with the talent and shooting that the Knicks brought in, it’s safe to say that Randle will play more bully ball this season.

Thibodeau was also a big part of Randles’ success last season. The reigning two-time Coach of the Year empowered Randle to become the team’s leader after seeing how sharp he was during their bubble workouts that preceded training camp.

Many raised their eyebrows when Thibodeau declared that he saw a leader in Randle in their training camp. But he was right all along. Thibodeau knows one when he sees one.

“Thibs is absolutely amazing. Who he is as a coach, who he is as a person to his core, all he cares about is putting players in the best spot to win the game. I’ve never seen a coach works harder than him,” Randle said.

“There were times when I go to the gym at 9 o’clock at night and Thibs is still there studying, watching films. He always tells me the best form of leadership that you can give is the example that you set for others.”

Randle fully embraced that role. And the whole Knicks’ team followed him. He brought with him the work ethic that Kobe taught him.

In every city they played, Randle would have the team arrange a gym for himself to get some extra shots. He said that routine kept him in constant rhythm and kept him locked in. During his first year with the Knicks, not everybody on the team put in the extra work on the road as he did. That changed when Thibodeau took over as the coach as he established a culture of accountability.

“This is the first time that I have a team that they all came with me,” Randle said. “Now we have the whole team bus taking us to the gym because everybody on the team wants to go and get extra shots and extra work. And I think that just became a part of the identity of our team that we just don’t want to be outworked.”

Thibodeau would always tell Randle that “true leadership is not only bringing the best out of yourself but also bringing the best out of others.” 

Randle exemplified that last season, whether it was playing hard on the court or being early and staying late in the gym to put in extra work. He was the Knicks’ alpha. He was their leader on and off the court. 

But after a disappointing first-round exit in the playoffs where his performance dipped, Randle is being counted out again by some people who view his breakout year as a fluke.

It’s hard to count out somebody who has that drive to become one of the greatest in the game.


The Mobil 1 Behind the Drive campaign, a unique offseason NBA content series and sweepstakes to reward fans with unique gifts and experiences, has partnered with prominent sneaker artist Dan “Mache” Gamache to create custom, hand-painted sneakers inspired by the Mobil 1™ brand. These extremely rare kicks are now available as Behind the Drive prizes.

Watch Mobil 1 partners Randle and Karl Anthony Towns unbox the custom sneakers, with Mache describing the making-of process and going behind the scenes on his design motivation. 

Fans can join the Behind the Drive sweepstakes at gobehindthedrive.com.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Giants shift offensive line combination, here’s the projected starting unit for Week 2

new york giants, billy price

It has only been one week in, and the New York Giants are already shifting up their offensive line and testing different combinations. On a short week against the Washington Football Team on Thursday night football, the Giants have elected to move center Nick Gates over to left guard, where Shane Lemieux played just 17 snaps last week before being replaced by Ben Bredeson.

Bredeson was traded from the Baltimore Ravens to the Giants several weeks ago. Big Blue sent over a fourth-round pick in exchange for Bredeson, a fifth and seventh-round selection. However, Bredeson is still learning the system and struggled in some facets in his first action with his new team. With that being the case, the Giants feel better moving Gates over to the left side.

Gates has never played left guard before, spending his rookie season at right guard and right tackle before making the full move to center. While he has been cross-training at both spots this off-season, there’s no guarantee he will be an adequate option.

Expected starting unit for the New York Giants against Washington:

LT: Andrew Thomas

LG: Nick Gates

C: Billy Price

RG: Will Hernandez

RT: Nate Solder

The Giants expressed confidence all off-season regarding their OL, indicating they had enough talent on the roster to get the job done. However, trading for two different players doesn’t exactly scream confidence and efficiency, but rather desperation.

With Billy Price taking over at center, the former first-round pick will undoubtedly have his work cut out for him. Price has 698 total snaps at the position, with the majority coming in his rookie year back in 2018. His best numbers came at center, which provide some sort of optimism against Washington for the Giants.

The coaching staff is treading above water right now, but they could quickly begin to sink if things don’t go well on Thursday night.

New York Jets WR Jamison Crowder activated from COVID-19 list

The New York Jets’ most potent offensive weapon from the last two seasons will be available for the team’s home opener against New England.

The New York Jets announced the activation of receiver Jamison Crowder from the COVID-19 list on Thursday. Crowder will be available to partake in the Jets’ Week 2 contest, their home opener against the New England Patriots (1 p.m. ET, CBS).

Former of Washington, Crowder is set to enter his third season with the Jets. In that span, he has developed into one of the league’s most reliable slot receivers. He has been the team’s most consistent offensive producer over the last two seasons, earning 1,532 yards on 137 receptions, 12 of which went for touchdowns. Each of those marks is good for a team-high over the last two seasons.

Crowder inked a three-year, $28.5 million deal in March 2019. He restructured his deal over this offseason, one centered around a $4.5 million guaranteed salary. The Duke alum was on the reserve list after testing positive on September 3.

The Jets (0-1) were without two of their top receivers during their season opener on Sunday, a 19-14 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Keelan Cole, who was acquired from Jacksonville over the most recent offseason, missed the contest with a knee injury and has been limited in practice this week. Zach Wilson threw for 258 yards in Sunday’s defeat, while Corey Davis paced the team with 97 yards on seven receptions. Braxton Berrios (5 receptions, 51 yards) took over Crowder’s duties in the slot.

“Those guys do things the right way,” Saleh said of Cole and Crowder, per ESPN’s Rich Cimini. “They’re where they’re supposed to be. They’re all gas 100% of the time. They’re reliable. For a quarterback, you can’t ask for much more than that. To have two more options on the field for the quarterback is priceless.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Yankees: Nestor Cortes Jr.’s command was ‘on point’ as the pitcher keeps impressing

Right now, the New York Yankees have one mission: accumulate as many wins as they can. They are in the middle of an intense push for the playoffs, fighting with the Toronto Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox for two spots, with other teams lurking.

Fortunately, left-hander Nestor Cortes Jr. was there to provide his best start of the season on Wednesday, as the Yankees held on to escape with a narrow 4-3 victory in the late innings.

Cortes Jr was majestic all night long: over 6.1 innings, he allowed only one run, three hits, and two walks, striking out a career-high 11 hitters in the Orioles’ lineup. Cortes has been a fantastic rescue project for Yankees’ pitching coach Matt Blake and has been a consistent source of quality innings all season long.

In 79.2 innings with the Yankees in 2021, Cortes Jr. has a brilliant 2.60 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP, with 87 punchouts in his line.

The Yankees love his style

The left-hander said after the game that his command was the primary weapon in his outing, as it was “on point.” Command is perhaps more important than raw stuff, and the Yankees have made this clear to Cortes Jr. The team encourages him to change speeds, deliveries, angles, and use every trick in the back to keep batters off balance. Control and command are a vital part of this approach.

“I felt like my command was on point. I didn’t miss too much with my fastball, which really got me going. I also commanded the cutter well,” the pitcher said to SNY after the game, which took the Yankees to an 82-64 record, maintaining the three-way tie with the Blue Jays and Red Sox.

He also mentioned that working quickly has also helped him. “(The) defense stays alert when the pitcher works quick. I like to keep it going, keep the momentum,” he stated.

It’s part of his style, one that has brought him considerable success in 2021.

New York Jets: Three overreactions from Week 1

zach wilson, jets

The New York Jets’ 2021 opener in Carolina brought familiar pessimism, but the green sky isn’t falling just yet.

In the aftermath of the NFL’s most recent opening weekend, Canton’s sculptors are designing Jameis Winston’s bust while fans in Philadelphia and Cincinnati might be researching flights and hotels in Southern California for the second weekend in February.

Of course, Week 1 should never be used as an exclusive barometer for how an NFL season is going to pan out: in last year’s edition, the Jacksonville Jaguars, future bearers of a 1-15 ledger looked like a sleeper team after earning an upset win over Indianapolis. Tom Brady’s career was declared over for the umpteenth time after a loss to his new divisional rivals in New Orleans.

The New York Jets are used to kickoff weekend calamities as losers of five of their last six openers. Alas for New York, they’ve failed to defy the curse of Week 1, as each of the last six efforts has ended with a losing record. The theory that Gang Green has to pay some sort of “Jets tax”, where their simplest mistakes are held against them as comedy, also hasn’t helped.

Needless to say, the Jets’ 19-14 defeat at the hands of Sam Darnold, Robby Anderson, and the Carolina Panthers has only exacerbated the feelings of gridiron dread. ESM channels its inner Third Eye Blind and asks Jets fans to step back off that ledge…the season doesn’t end with Week 1.

zach wilson, jets

The Overreaction: Zach Wilson is a bust!!!

Why Cooler Heads Should Prevail: Overreactions manifest most prevalently when it comes to quarterbacks. Nothing draws clicks and views better than a debate over the passer’s spot on the depth chart. Gridrion schadenfreude is perhaps best manifested through the struggles of rookie quarterbacks. Casual and professional observers alike are quick to pounce on any mistake.

Enough has been written about the Jets’ blocking woes on Sunday. Those passers built for the NFL game know how to adapt to uncomfortable situations and Wilson struggled to do so in the first half (6-of-16, 84 yards, and an interception) as the Jets fell behind a 16-point margin. The amateur critics on social media were quick to attack, ready to place Wilson in the same halls as fellow first-round washouts Richard Todd, Mark Sanchez, and Sunday’s opponent Sam Darnold.

But Wilson’s recovery and ability to dodge the defenders allowed through (especially after a stagnant preseason in the pocket) was inspiring to watch. Those traits were best on display through Wilson’s pair of scoring passes to Corey Davis, ones that drew the Jets close in a game that had little business lingering in.

His adaptation and recovery in the latter half-hour 14-of-21, 174 yards, two scores, 123.9 passer rating) drew praise from notable names both domestically and abroad.

“I loved his resilience in the second half,” former NFL quarterback and ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer said, per Darryl Slater of NJ.com. “I thought he played terribly in the first half. And then the pieces I saw in the second half, I was really impressed. I’m like: Wow, that takes a lot of resilience for a rookie — to go in at halftime, getting your butt kicked in your first start, and come back out and really settle down and play with structure and timing and make some plays. I was impressed.”

“We want tough guys and dudes who have no quit,” Davis, Wilson’s new favorite target, said in a report from Al Iannazzone of Newsday. “That’s what he exemplifies. He’s going to be great here. I’m excited to have him. We’re going to do great things.”

No one can deny that Wilson endured a roller-coaster debut. But it shouldn’t be defined by its opened half.

The Overreaction: Denzel Mims has to go!!!

Why Cooler Heads Should Prevail: The Jets continue to deal with the curious cause of Mims. He has gone from second-round consolation prize after passing on aerial talents to draft Mekhi Becton and their best potential homegrown deep-ball threat since Santana Moss to the constant source of speculation.

It took only a single 40-yard reception, one that set up the Jets’ final score of the day, for Mims to become the Jets’ third-leading receiver in Charlotte. But Mims partook in only three snaps, stuck behind journeyman Braxton Berrios and former Boston College quarterback Jeff Smith. Blunt comments from head coach Robert Saleh have only raised further red flags, as did the fact that Mims only saw three snaps on an afternoon where the Jets were already missing veterans Keelan Cole and Jamison Crowder.

“He’s been doing a good job getting himself a little bit better every day but, he’s got to know, when you’re not one of the main guys, you got to know all three spots and you’ve got to know it at a high level so you can step in and take advantage of all those opportunities,” Saleh said this week, per notes from the Jets. “So, if the Z, the F, or the X needs a break, you’re the first one that goes in because you know all three spots, you can execute at a high level and you can roll.”

The Jets have invested a lot into Mims: Jeremy Chinn and Antonio Gibson were chosen within the immediate ten picks after him. If Cole and Crowder return for Sunday’s home opener against New England (1 p.m. ET, CBS), there’s a chance that Mims could land on the inactive list.

But there’s something to be said about Saleh’s willingness to hold someone who’s projected to be a major part of the offensive revolution accountable. This isn’t to say that Saleh and his staff are infallible…honeymoons end fairly quickly for metropolitan football head coaches…but it’s an early statement, an early gambit that can light a fire under Mims and set him on a good path for the rest of his career.

Mims’ situation should be watched for the rest of the season, but there’s no use in panicking after opening weekend. It’s worth seeing how Saleh’s gambit pays off. Saleh isn’t the only head coach on the staff who has a big opportunity granted to him by the Mims situation: offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur can leave an instant impact on a unit that has struggled for literal years by finding a spot for an embattled big-play threat.

george fant, jets

The Overreaction: The Offensive Line is Going to Make Things Difficult All Year!!!

Why Cooler Heads Should Prevail: Hey, at least “Let’s Find Mehki Becton’s Replacement!!!” hasn’t gained too much traction yet.

Holding Becton’s injury history against him is a mistake…it’s still early in his career and football is a violent game…but there’s no denying his medically induced absence leaves the Jets in a prickly situation. This is a chance for general manager Joe Douglas’ constant tinkering and remodeling of the offensive wall to make their benefactor proud.

At the forefront is the arrival of Morgan Moses, who was added during the doldrums of July. Moses was one of the most impact post-minicamp signings across the league and perfectly fits into what the Jets were trying to accomplish this offseason: he fulfills a dire need (Douglas continues to make up for the blocking negligence of the Mike Maccagnan era) and has the big-game experience the fledgling Jets sought after helping the Washington Football Team capture the NFC East.

Getting the work in this offseason allows the Jets to welcome in an experienced, talented name, rather than scooping a name off the practice squad or the wasteland that is in-season free agency.

Moses will take over at right tackle while George Fant assumes Becton’s role as the left anchor. Fant struggled on Sunday but he believes that working with Moses is going to help him out. Their relationship dates back to offseason workouts and could pay big dividends as the Jets

“I learned a lot from him. It was not one of those competitions where we were not speaking to each other,” Fant said in a report from team writer Randy Lange. “We were coaching each other up (saying) I like this guy, I like this guys’ family. We’ve been close for a while. That was the cool part.”

Time…namely the next four weeks that Becton will undoubtedly miss…how that previously established relationship plays to the Jets’ benefit. But it’s something that should give them at least a little bit of confidence as they move forward into a landscape rife with uncertainty.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags