New York Yankees Recap: Giancarlo Stanton can’t be stopped as Yankees win against the Jays

The New York Yankees were in Toronto, Canada, tonight for the first game of three against the Toronto Blue Jays in a three-game series that may decide if they go to the postseason or not. The Yankees miraculously swept the Red Sox in a three-game series with their rival. The Yankees have won their lasts six games in a row. Coincidentally ever since Nestor Cortes Jr. bought the Yankees a pet turtle that they named “Bonxie” the Yankees have won. Bronxie or more likely Giancarlo Stanton led the Yankees to their seventh win in a row. The score was the Yankees 7 and the Blue Jays 2.

Bronxie accompanied the team to the visitors’ clubhouse at Fenway Park and was with them tonight at Roger’s Center in Canada. It may be superstition, but the Yankees players hoped that Bronxie would give them the same luck they had at Fenway Park. Whatever the case, the Yankees had to play their best to beat the Blue Jays co-ace Hyun Jin Ryu. Jameson Taillon was on the mound for the Yankees in his return from the IL due to an ankle injury. Unfortunately, the ankle caused him to leave the game early, possibly ending his season.

Ryu had to face DJ LeMahieu leading off for the Yankees, who ground out to short. Anthony Rizzo singled up the middle. Aaron Judge doubled to right, with Rizzo going to third. Giancarlo, the Red Sox hero, tipped into the catcher’s glove for the second out. Joey Gallo popped out to the infield to allow Ryu to get in and out of trouble. In the bottom with Jameson Taillon on the mound, George Springer led off and walked on four straight balls from Taillon. Springer stole second. Marcus Semien struck out, Vlad Guerrero flew out to center. Bo Bichette singled driving in Springer as the Blue Jays got on the board first. Bichette then stole second. Teoscar Hernandez flew out to Judge in right to end the inning. Blue Jays 1 Yankees 0.

The second inning was led off by Gleyber Torres, who flew out to right. Gary Sanchez singled through the shift in left. Brett Gardner hit into a force out with Sanchez out. Gio Urshela went down swinging to end the half. At the bottom, Lourdes Gurriel led off and ground out to third. Cory Dickerson flew out to Judge right in front of the wall in right field. Santiago Espinal flew out to Gallo in left for the 1-2-3 inning for Taillon. Blue Jays 1 Yankees 0.

The top of the lineup for the Yankees led off for the Yankees in the top of the third. LeMahieu flew out to center. Rizzo lined out to Bichette at short. Judge with nobody on and two outs hit a homer over the right-field wall. Giancarlo Stanton ground out to end the inning, but the Yankees tied the game up with Judge’s home run. At the bottom, Danny Jansen struck out looking. But after that out, Taillon left the game apparently with another ankle problem. Michael King took over for Taillon. King faced Springer, who went down on strikes. Semien walked. Guerrero ground out to first to end the inning. New York Yankees 1 Blue Jays 1.

Joey Gallo led off the fourth inning and popped out to left. Torres was called out on strikes. Sanchez flew out to far left to end the half. Bichette led off the bottom by singling in front of Gallo in left. Hernandez ground out to Torres, but Bichette made it to second. Gurriel ground out to short, with Bichette advancing to third. Dickerson got an RBI double down the right-field line scoring Bichette for the Jays lead. Espinal flew out to Gardner in center to end the inning, but the Blue Jays regained the one-run lead.  Blue Jays 2 Yankees 1.

The fifth inning was led off by Brett Gardner, who ground out into the shift. Urshela singled to right field. LeMahieu worked a walk. Rizzo singled, driving in the tying run as Urshela scored. Judge faced the new pitcher Adam Cimber and got a sac fly scoring LeMahieu for the Yankee first lead in the game. Stanton ground out to short, but the Yankees picked up a run. At the bottom, Jansen, with King still on the mound, ground out to first. Springer flew out to Judge. Semien flew out to Gardner in center to end the inning. New York Yankees 3 Blue Jays 2.

The sixth inning was led off by Gallo facing new pitcher Nate Pearson and stuck out. Torres ground out up the middle. Sanchez walked. Gardner, with one on and two outs, went down on a 100mph fastball. At the bottom, Guerrero facing new Yankee pitcher Clay Holmes walked. Bichette ground into a force out. A wild pitch from Holmes allowed Bichette to get to second. Another pitch that got away from Sanchez, but firing to third, he got Bichette trying to reach. Hernandez walked. Another wild pitched allowed Guerrero to go to second. Gurriel struck out to end the inning.  New York Yankees 3 Yankees 2.

Gio Urshela led off the seventh inning against new pitcher Trevor Richards and flew out to right field. LeMahieu singled to right. Rizzo popped out to right-center. Judge walked, moving LeMahieu to second. Stanton, with two outs and two on, hit a monster home run driving in three runs. Gallo facing Jullian Merryweather, struck out swinging. At the bottom, Dickerson facing Chad Green lined out to LeMahieu at third. Espinal flew out to Judge in right. Jansen struck out in order against Green. New York Yankees 6 Blue Jays 2.

At the top of the eighth, Torres singled. Gary Sanchez hit into a double play, and Gardner struck out to end the half. At the bottom against Luis Severino, Springer struck out swinging. Semien ground out to LeMahieu. Guerrero flew out to Judge in right for the 1-2-3 inning for Severino. New York Yankees 6 Blue Jays 2.

Gio Urshela led off the ninth inning for the Yankees and hit a homer into the left-field stands. LeMahieu flew out to right-center. Rizzo popped up to the infield for the second out. Judge walked. Judge was on base all four times. Stanton doubled, moving Judge to third base. With two on and two outs, Gallo struck out, but the Yankees tacked on another run. At the bottom, with last licks on the line for the Blue Jays, Bo Bichette faced Wandy Peralta and went down on strikes. Hernandez flew out to Gardner. Gurriel ground out to end the game and give the Yankees their seventh win in a row.

The final score was the New York Yankees 7 and the Blue Jays 2. The winning pitcher was Michael King, and the loser was Hyun Jin Ryu.

 

 

 

 

 

Knicks: Luca Vildoza in limbo as he starts training camp in walking boot

New York Knicks guard Luca Vildoza started his first NBA Training Camp on the wrong foot—a walking boot.

Vildoza, who has yet to recover from an ankle injury he sustained in the NBA Summer League last month, was reduced to a spectator. And his chances to realize his NBA dream are getting slimmer by the day.

“Look, we have one roster spot open. Right now, you base it on the guys that are available and who can help the team the most,” said Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau when asked about Vildoza’s status.

But he was quick to add that they still have time to evaluate their roster.

“We have all (training) camp to figure that out. If you ask me today on what has happened in the fall and where we are now, I have some thoughts. Leon (Rose) has some thoughts. But I think as time goes on, we’ll get more information,” Thibodeau said. “We practice more. We play preseason games. And then look at, ‘Okay, who fits our team the best and what do we need out of that position. And so that’s what we’ll look at before we make the final decision.”

The Knicks signed Vildoza to a partially guaranteed, $13 million, three-year deal last May upon the strong recommendation of their scouts. They have until October 21 or after the season opener to guarantee his next season’s salary or clear his second-year $3.3 million salary.

Vildoza, who recently turned 26, trained with the Knicks’ player development staff for a month before he joined Argentina in its Olympic quest. The Argentine guard had underwhelmed in the exhibition games in Las Vegas and Tokyo. Then the injury happened two games into the NBA Summer League.

Vildoza is likely competing for the 15th spot in the roster against veteran guard Dwayne Bacon. He was brought in apparently on the strong recommendation of his former coach Steve Clifford, a good friend of Thibodeau.

The 26-year old Bacon, who signed an Exhibit 10 or a training camp contract, averaged a career-best 10.9 points last season, playing all 72 games for the Orlando Magic. Bacon is also familiar with Knicks newcomers Kemba Walker (his teammate in Charlotte) and Evan Fournier (his teammate in Orlando).

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Knicks: The growth of Mitchell Robinson in the eyes of Tom Thibodeau

New York Knicks, Mitchell Robinson

When Tom Thibodeau became the New York Knicks head coach, one of the first things he did was send his assistants Mike Woodson and Kenny Payne down to New Orleans to work out Mitchell Robinson.

Woodson didn’t like what he saw.

“He wasn’t in shape, and I just didn’t know how much he would allow you to push him,” Woodson said in an SNY interview last May.

It was the first wrinkle on the Robinson-Thibodeau relationship. Robinson, who was 22 at that time, followed that up with an abrupt exit from the Knicks’ pre-training camp bubble for personal reasons.

That prompted Thibodeau to say at the start of the training camp last year that Robinson has a long way to go and has a lot of room for growth in terms of professionalism and impacting winning.

“I think [Robinson] has had some really good moments, but I think he’s got a long way to go,” Thibodeau said last year. “The work part, the professionalism to continue to grow to impact winning, there’s a lot of room for growth. I don’t know where he’ll end up. There are things he can do that are very unique. I think we’re very fortunate to have Nerlens Noel. In some ways, he’s very similar when you look at rim protection. We’re excited about both guys.”

But over time, those wrinkles were ironed out. Before the season started, Robinson won the starting job and showed some growth until two major injuries limited him to only 31 games.

This summer, the Knicks sent some of their personnel in New Orleans to ensure that he was on the right track to full recovery.

Six months since his foot surgery, Robinson has yet to participate in contact drills. The Knicks are taking a cautious approach.

At the start of his second training camp under Thibodeau, Robinson was a limited participant. The plan is to bring him along slowly. But unlike last year, there were no asterisks in Thibodeau’s remarks about the Knicks’ young center, who is entering a contract year.

“It’s encouraging because each day, he’s doing more and more. He feels really good, which is important,” Thibodeau said Tuesday at the start of the NBA Training Camp.

Robinson bulked up and became more serious about his craft. The Louisiana native, who never had a coaching structure as solid as he has now under Thibodeau, became a student of the game.

“He’s put a lot of time into film study. He’s done things where he’s sitting in a chair, handling the ball, shooting out of the chair, stationary shooting, form shooting, cardio on the pool, cardio on the bike. You guys can see the physical difference. He’s done a lot of strength training. He’s handled it well as you can handle it.”

Thibodeau’s culture of accountability has allowed Robinson to grow not only physically but internally. The Knicks’ former second-round pick has never been this driven. He speaks about going after the Defensive Player of the Year award. And he’s backing that up with a work ethic that wasn’t there in his early years in the league after flip-flopping his way into the NBA, shunning the college route.

While the injuries cut short his promising third season and first under Thibodeau, the initial setback has set him up for a big bounce back.

“I think sometimes when you have some time off like that, you can take a step back and get a broader view of everything,” Thibodeau said. “I think he has a good understanding of how important practice, preparation is just by observing the playoffs last [season]. When you go back to the last season, he’s had a number of big games against quality teams for us. What he brings to our team is unique, and his contributions to the team are important,” Thibodeau said.

In a marquee matchup against Rudy Gobert, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, back in January at home, Robinson battled him toe-to-toe with a complete line — nine points, 14 rebounds, two assists, two steals, and three blocks against only two fouls in a 112-100 Knicks victory. Gobert finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds, and five blocks.

In a 130-110 rout of the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks early in the season, Robinson helped limit Brook Lopez to just six points on 2-of-7 shooting and two rebounds.

He had back-to-back double-double games against Charlotte (12 points, 11 rebounds, two steals, two blocks) and Brooklyn (10 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks) in February. More than a week later, he started a five-game West Coast trip with an 18-point, 8-rebound, 2-block performance against Golden State.

Robinson collected five double-doubles, 10 games with double-digit rebounds, and 15 games with at least two shot blocks in the 31 games he played. The Knicks went 15-16 with him in the lineup.

While those were not enough for the Knicks to give Robinson an extension this offseason, the time he spent away from the court had made him hungrier.

Thibodeau is watching Robinson grow right before his eyes. The injuries are turning out to be a blessing in disguise.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Giants: Azeez Ojulari’s rookie season off to incredible start

azeez ojulari, new york giants

The New York Giants are 0-3 and in the midst of dark times as an organization. However, there are some silver linings to appreciate. Rookie edge rusher Azeez Ojulari is a shining light in the middle of this dark shadow for the Giants to celebrate.

The Giants drafted Azeez Ojulari with the 50th overall pick in this year’s 2021 NFL Draft. Ojulari was expected to be drafted in the top twenty picks of the first round, but he fell deep into round two. The Giants were thought to have gotten one of the biggest steals of the draft when they selected Azeez Ojulari out of Georgia. Through three games, it sure seems like a steal is what they got.

Azeez Ojulari stats and highlights

Azeez Ojulari is making an early case for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Through three games, Ojulari looks like a strong candidate for the end-of-season award. The Giants have seen real promise from their second-round pick to start this season.

Azeez has managed to record a sack in each of the first three games of this season. Through three games, Ojulari has recorded 7 combined tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and 1 forced fumble.

Pro Football Focus was particularly impressed with Azeez Ojulari’s Week Three performance. Ojulari earned a 92.2 overall PFF grade during Sunday’s contest. He was also nominated for the Pepsi Zero Sugar Rookie of the Week Award.

Through the first three weeks of the season, Ojulari has earned a 77.5 pass rush grade, good for the 23rd-highest mark among all edge defenders. It is also the highest pass rush grade among edge defenders from the 2021 draft class, and the third-highest among all rookies. His three sacks currently lead the 2021 rookie class. – via Giants.com

The Giants are in a hole at 0-3 to start the season. But as a long-term investment, Azeez Ojulari seems to have been a steal in the second round of this year’s draft. Azeez has flashed some excellent potential. Giants fans will enjoy watching Azeez Ojulari develop during his rookie season.

New York Giants show interest in former 1st round tackle bust, could target starting-level free agent guard

isaiah wilson, new york giants

The New York Giants are having serious trouble keeping their offensive linemen healthy, as starting left guard, Ben Bredeson, suffered a hand injury that could keep them out for multiple weeks, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.

With Nick Gates suffering a lower leg fracture which will keep them out the remainder of the season, losing Bredeson is just another knock to a unit that has struggled over the past few years. However, the team must move forward and find a replacement for the former fourth-round pick.

Luckily for the Giants, one option has become available after agreeing to get vaccinated from COVID-19 and re-join the NFL. Former Los Angeles Chargers lineman Forrest Lamp has become available as a free agent, and the Giants should be heavily considering his services after spending the entire 2020 season as the starting left guard for LA.

Lamp played in 1,174 offensive snaps last year, including 729 as a pass-blocker and 445 as a run-blocker. He allowed two sacks, 14 QB hits, 22 hurries, and 38 pressures, but had a few solid games as a pass blocker.

Over the first three weeks of the season, Bredeson has played 170 snaps, allowing one sack, six hurries, and seven pressures. He has been arguably the Giants’ worst offensive linemen, so the acquisition of Lamp could actually provide an upgrade as the season progresses.

Considering the alternatives, the Giants don’t have many options to work with.

In addition to Lamp, the Giants also worked out former Tennessee Titans tackle Isaiah Wilson. Wilson is considered a massive draft bust after showing carelessness in Tennessee. At just 22-years-old, Wilson is looking for a fresh start and an opportunity to prove that his poor decisions are behind him. Given the discipline the Joe Judge preaches, this could be a perfect chance to give him another shot at redemption, and the Giants surely know they could use another tackle to add to the mix.

Knicks center Nerlens Noel gets license to shoot

nerlens noel, knicks

New York Knicks center Nerlens Noel has only attempted 10 three-pointers and made two during his first nine seasons in the NBA. Last season, he was 0-of-3 from the three-point zone. That is about to change as Noel said he had received the green light to expand his game.

“It’s something that I’ve been working on. Being on one-year deals, you never know how much you can really do. Getting this comfortability with the situation even the day when I signed the contract, they told me to make it a conscious effort to make it a game shot and not just after practice,” Noel said Tuesday at the start of the NBA Training Camp.

Noel is entering the season for the first time in his career with his job and bag secured. After an ill-advised fumble in 2017 that led to an ongoing lawsuit and a series of one-year deals that came after, Noel re-signed with the Knicks on a three-year deal that could be worth up to $32 million if he hits bonuses and the last year getting picked up.

“It’s the best free agency I’ve ever experienced. I knew everything that’s going on. It’s beautiful. A good way to sum it up—the best one,” Noel said.

The stability has emboldened Noel to be a little adventurous this summer. And a part of it is for him to stay afloat beyond his current contract in the league that is constantly evolving.

As the modern game continues to cater to offense, shooting has become premium. Traditional big men are becoming obsolete. And despite possessing one elite skill set—rim protection, Noel doesn’t want to be left behind by the three-point revolution.

Last season, at least 10 centers averaged one three-pointer, per ESPN stats. Nikola Vucevic led all big men with 2.5 threes made on 6.3 attempts while splitting his time with his former team, Orlando Magic, and his new team, Chicago Bulls. Minnesota Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns, a former Tom Thibodeau player, was not far behind with 2.4 threes per game on the same 6.3 attempts despite being limited to just 50 games.

Former Knick Kristaps Porzingis, who has the same lean frame as Noel, averaged 2.3 threes on six attempts with the Dallas Mavericks last season.

But the top three three-point shooting big men were either the focal point or the secondary offensive option in their teams while averaging over 30 minutes per game.

It will be a stretch to say that Noel, who is likely the Knicks’ starting center while Mitchell Robinson is being eased back into the rotation, will enjoy such a shot diet with the addition of Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier.

Noel attempted only 3.5 shots per game last season and made 61.4 percent of them, the bulk of it coming around the rim (68.5 percent, which was above the league average of 58.5 percent according to Stat Muse).

So an occasional three-pointer from Noel would be the more plausible scenario—the last option in the offense as much as he’s the last line on defense. Making him an outside threat could draw the opposing team’s last line of defense to come out.

“I’m trying to expand my game to that corner three. I’m definitely going to tread lightly coming in and seeing what it’s like but you know, I got the green light for the most part. So I just gotta keep getting the reps up and make sure it falls by game time and I’ll be able to implement that,” Noel said.

The three-point shot became an important weapon for the Knicks last season on their way to a surprising playoff run. But while they were the second-best team in three-point shooting accuracy (39.2 percent), they also threw the second-least attempts with just 30 per game, 13 fewer than the league-leading Utah Jazz.

According to Derrick Rose, the Knicks plan to bring that up to at least among the league’s top five.

“I think our staple [last season] was defense. Now that I feel like we got better on the offensive side of the ball, it’s about adding little things. Last year, we only shot 30 threes. This year, now we have three-point shooters. We gotta get up to 37 to 40 attempts,” Rose said Monday.

But Rose was quick to add that they will not take a three-pointer just for the sake of ramping up their shot attempts. That’s not Thibodeau’s style.

“I’m not saying we gotta force threes, but take the right threes and don’t pass up any good looks. Push the ball. I felt like last year, we didn’t push the ball. We needed to (push the pace) to get easy buckets and easy looks for Julius (Randle) to get him downhill or to get RJ (Barrett) going downhill to open up the floor for everybody,” Rose said.

The Knicks crave shooting in all positions.

Noel and Robinson provided elite rim protection to the Knicks last season.

Noel was third with 2.2 per game behind Indiana Pacers’ Myles Turner (3.4) and Jazz’s Rudy Gobert (2.7). Robinson was ninth with 1.5 and could have climbed up the ladder if he played in more games.

Turner also landed in the top 10 three-point shooting big men in the league. The Pacers center averaged 1.5 per game on 4.4 attempts, joining reigning NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks’ Brook Lopez (1.4 threes on four shots) as the only big men in the league who offered elite rim protection and outside shooting.

Curiously, the Knicks were heavily linked to Turner in the past though nothing materialized. Perhaps the grand plan is to develop one if they couldn’t trade for a modern big man.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

UFC books interim title fight between Petr Yan and Cory Sandhagen

UFC 267 has a new co-main event. Over the weekend we learned that bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling (20-3) was out of his title defense against Petr Yan (15-2) next month on Fight Island.

Sterling had next surgery earlier in the year and was trying to make his comeback to defend against Yan. Yan lost the title to Sterling back at UFC 259. The title change was controversial considering Sterling won by disqualification in a fight he was clearly losing.

Due to the nature of the fight, the UFC decided to run things back immediately. However, Sterling is going to need more time as doctors wouldn’t clear him to defend his title next month.

The promotion wanted to move forward with an interim title fight that featured Yan. The first choice was TJ Dillashaw (17-4). Dillashaw is ranked right behind Yan and just returned in July.

The former UFC champion defeated Cory Sandhagen (14-3) in his return, however, the fight was razor close. During the fight, Dillashaw suffered a knee injury which required surgery. With him still recovering, he wasn’t an option.

Sandhagen’s UFC Title Shot

ESPN’s Brett Okamoto broke the news today that Sandhagen will now be getting a shot at Yan for the interim title at UFC 267. Sandhagen was the favorite for a title shot after he knocked out Frankie Edgar with a flying knee earlier in 2021.

However, after the UFC 259 result between Yan and Sterling, Sandhagen was forced to take a fight with Dillashaw. While two scorecards went for Dillashaw, many believe that Sandhagen won the fight. Now, due to two injuries, Sandhagen is getting his UFC title shot that many believe he deserved all along.

Before the Dillashaw loss, Sandhagen had gone 7-1 in the UFC with his lone loss coming against Aljamain Sterling. Sandhagen is looked at as someone who will definitely be a UFC champion at some point in his career.

He has all the tools and physical attributes to become a champion it’s just a matter of putting it all together. Now, he’s going to have his chance to do it. This is a fantastic fight and in my opinion, UFC 267 just got a lot more interesting.

New York Giants: Evan Engram responds to boos, being cheered off field

New York Giants, Evan Engram

Despite hopes that things might improve this season, it looks like the cycle is continuing for New York Giants tight end Evan Engram. Each season it’s looking more like a change of scenery would benefit both the player and the team, and that idea is backed up by the outcome in Engram’s 2021 season debut.

The performance saw Engram record 2 receptions after coming back from injury, but it was spoiled by a fumble that quickly reignited complaints about Dave Gettleman’s decision to keep the tight end rather than trading him.

This negative reception showed up both online and at MetLife Stadium itself – Engram found himself becoming the target of boos, and it went as far as the fans cheering when he was substituted off the field.

Even with the increase in negativity, Engram has kept a cool head about the situation.

Evan Engram responds to being cheered off field

“Obviously, it’s not ideal and it’s something you don’t want to see or hear. But, that’s my focus – is playing better football for my teammates and my team and giving the fans and our supporters something to cheer about and something to be proud about on the field,” Engram said about the treatment from the fans.

At this point, it’s debatable whether the relationship between Engram and the fans will ever be a good one. Whether because of an injury history that has often kept him off the field, or because of drops and being involved in turnovers, a large part of the fanbase has written Engram off as a disappointment by now.

The remaining question is whether or not the front office and coaching staff will also come to see Engram as a disappointment compared to his draft position and expected role.

Engram, like Saquon Barkley, has proven himself to be a boom or bust player. He’s capable of putting up good numbers, such as in his rookie season when he scored six touchdowns or last season when he made the Pro Bowl with 654 receiving yards on 63 receptions.

But when he runs into problems, they tend to be bad. He only played 8 games in 2019 due to injury and missed the first two games of this season with a calf injury. Last season, Engram dropping a key pass from Daniel Jones played a massive part in the Giants losing to the Eagles – a loss that would come back to haunt the team after they narrowly missed out on the division title.

The Giants have tried making the Evan Engram experiment work for four full seasons. By now, they may be served better by tight ends with a lower ceiling who perform more consistently. There’s a strong argument that Engram fits better as a luxury player on a contending team, where the margins are often less tight and his problems would be less visible.

But whether the Giants do make the decision to trade Engram before the deadline or not, something that might not materialize simply because Engram’s trade value is significantly lower than it would have been a couple of seasons ago, it appears the tight end is still focused on his game first and foremost.

“I’ve been playing football for a long time. I’ve played in front of a lot of fans for a good amount of time. We’re trained to stay focused in between the lines. That’s the best way I tried to handle that yesterday was to stay in between the lines and stay in the game,” Engram told reporters.

Keeping that focus will likely get more challenging if there’s not a large step up on Engram’s part.

The Knicks’ offense is capable of being elite, but how can they get there?

knicks, julius randle

The New York Knicks are heading into the 2021-22 season with added firepower on offense and development with some of their younger players. Letting Elfrid Payton, Frank Ntilikina, and Reggie Bullock walk this off-season left a few holes behind, but they replaced them eagerly with even better talent.

Signing Evan Fournier, Kemba Walker, and drafting Miles McBride, the Knicks filled those three spots with productive players who will offer a much more moving forward. Fournier is capable of creating shots for himself and others, which will open up the floor for players like Julius Randle and RJ Barrett, giving them more opportunities from beyond the arc. Walker is an elusive small guard who prides himself in scoring efficiency and explosive play-making. Payton was the exact opposite of that, offering better defense over offensive production, which came back to bite the Knicks in the butt later on in the season.

However, one category the Knicks are looking to improve upon is their three-point shooting. When looking at their three-point percentage last season, the Knicks ranked third in the NBA at 39.2%, tied with the Brooklyn Nets for second place. However, they ranked in the bottom portion of the league in three-point attempts per game, a statistic that Rose spoke about specifically on Tuesday.

“I think our staple (last season) was defense. Now that I feel like we got better on the offensive side of the ball, it’s about adding little things,” Rose said. “Last year, we only shot 30 threes. This year, now we have three-point shooters. We gotta get up to 37 to 40 attempts.”

The Knicks averaged 29.9 attempts per game, which was far less than the 36.1 attempts the Nets took. If they can increase that number and open up shots for themselves but maintain the same hit rate, the offense should see a significant boost in production.

“I’m not saying we gotta force threes, but take the right threes and don’t pass up any good looks. Push the ball. I felt like last year, we didn’t push the ball. We needed to (push the pace) to get easy buckets and easy looks for Julius (Randle) to get him downhill or to get RJ (Barrett) going downhill to open up the floor for everybody.”

Rose has the right idea, spreading the floor and creating open shots for their best playmakers. Forcing three-point attempts is not ideal, but a healthy Mitchell Robinson will provide them with more offensive rebounds and talent down low. RJ Barrett shot above 43% from three-point range in the corner, so expect him to continue featuring in that way moving forward.

This is a clear-cut way for the Knicks to improve their offense and take it up a notch, but it starts with Julius Randle commanding attention in the paint and spreading the floor.

The New York Yankees may look back at Stanton’s Boston weekend as the reason they made the postseason

New York Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton

Unless the New York Yankees fall apart this week, they seem destined for postseason play. One of the prime reasons for that is undeniably outfielder and DH Giancarlo Stanton. Both he and Aaron Judge have carried the team on their backs this season. But in the crucial most recent Red Sox three-game series at Fenway Park, Stanton’s offense exploded and led the Yankees to sweep the Red Sox on their own field.

As the days go by with only six games left to the regular season, and if the Yankees make it to postseason play, they can look back at this series as the reason why after such an inconsistent season, they made it big so late in the season. Some reporters and Yankee watchers say it may have been the best series the Yankees ever played at Fenway Park in recent history.

This past weekend Giancarlo Stanton may have caused the Yankees to have their best three games series ever against the Red Sox in their own home park. In three games and 12 at-bats, he had 7 hits, a double, and three home runs while walking once. His hits resulted in 10 RBIs for the Yankees while the Red Sox only scored 9 runs in the three games combined. All of that combines for an unbelievable OPS of 2.032. You could say the series sweep belonged to Stanton.

Giancarlo Stanton’s 10 RBIs in the New York Yankee traditional Red Sox rivalry history books stack up pretty high. He is only the second Yankee to do that. In 1954 Micky Mantle accomplished the feat, but that was at Yankee Stadium; Stanton is the only one to do it at Fenway Park. It may be a surprise to many Yankees fans, but Stanton has been one of the most successful Yankee hitters against the Red Sox since he joined the team after 2017, when he was the NL MVP.

According to New York Yankees Stats on Twitter, this is Giancarlo Stanton’s record at Fenway Park: Giancarlo Stanton with Yankees at Fenway Park .395/.451/.691 (1.142) in 91 PA with 7 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, and 21 RBI. That’s the best OPS by any Yankee all-time at Fenway Park with a minimum of 50 plate appearances. Add that to Red Sox games at Yankee Stadium, and he has 10 home runs with the Yankees against the Red Sox with 48 plate appearances.

In the first game of the series, Stanton went an impressive 3 for 5  in the Yankee 8-3 win. But in the last two games, he upped his game. In the second game, he had a late-inning Grand Slam to turn the game from a Yankee deficit into a Yankee lead. That Slam was a signature for Stanton as no one in baseball hits a ball harder off the bat than he. It traveled 452′ into the Boston night. To finish up his impactful weekend on the field that once housed Babe Ruth, he on Sunday also hit another home run for two more RBIs leading to a 6-3 victory for the Yankees and the weekend sweep giving them back the home-field advantage in the wild card.

Stanton played very well for the Yankees in his first year, with the team being an All-Star and MPV nominee. But following that season, it all went south for Stanton through no fault of his own.  During 2019 and 2020, he only played a total of 41 games combined due to a myriad of injuries. It was so bad the Yankees fans lost faith in him, calling him the “glass man.” This is the first season he has been healthy, yet the injury concerns lingered with manager Boone only using him as a DH in the first half of the season. Finally, in the weeks that followed the All-Star game, Boone decided to use him in the outfield again, where he has performed as well as any Yankee outfielder. That move coincided with Stanton’s offensive power. Since August 12th, he has hit .289 with 17 home runs in 38 games, the one home run in every 2.2 games.

If Giancarlo Stanton continues to play this way in the last six games of the season starting tonight, there is no telling what the New York Yankees can do. The postseason may very well be in the future for the Yankees and quite possibly a World Series appearance and win for their 28th World Championship. Only time will tell if that happens, but his performance against the Red Sox, this sweep will go down in Yankee history.