Bellator 268 Preview: Ryan Bader – Corey Anderson

Ryan Bader

Saturday night in the co-main event of Bellator 268, we have a semifinal matchup in the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix. Former light heavyweight and current heavyweight champion Ryan Bader (28-6) takes on Corey Anderson (15-5).

Ryan Bader lost the light heavyweight title back at Bellator 244 when he was knocked out by Vadim Nemkov. It was Bader’s first fight and defense of his title since 2017 and he didn’t look good. After losing the title, Bader had a decision to make.

He could either defend the heavyweight title or join the Grand Prix. Ultimately, Bader decided to join the Grand Prix and try and win his second title back. In the opening round, Bader was able to defeat Lyoto Machida by decision.

Standing across from Bader on Saturday night is Corey Anderson. Entering 2020, Corey Anderson looked like he was going to get a shot at the UFC light heavyweight title. He had a title eliminator against Jan Blachowicz and he lost by knockout.

After the fight, he actually got out of his UFC contract and signed with Bellator which shocked the fight world. Anderson made his debut with Bellator in November and won by TKO. He opened the Grand Prix with another TKO win to start out 2-0 with his new promotion.

Bellator 268 Prediction

This is such a good fight and one that I truly wish was five rounds. These are two of the better light heavyweights in the world and both contain a very similar skillset which will make this Bellator 268 matchup so intriguing.

Both men possess really good wrestling and they both have striking to be weary of. We have seen both Bader and Anderson put opponents away on the feet. In terms of using their wrestling, I would say that we’ve seen Anderson be more effective there, but Bader has better credentials overall.

I’ve really gone back and forth on this matchup at Bellator 268 because I think it comes down to the striking. I can picture Bader landing a bomb that puts Anderson out. However, I don’t ultimately think that’s going to happen.

I just have a feeling that this is Corey Anderson’s time. He will be able to do more on the feet and his wrestling will negate any wrestling from Bader. It might not be the most exciting affair, but I expect a Corey Anderson decision win at Bellator 268.

Prediction: Corey Anderson by Unanimous Decision

Knicks sign Brandon Goodwin, waive Dwayne Bacon, Myles Powell

The New York Knicks have signed Brandon Goodwin after waiving Dwayne Bacon and Myles Powell on Thursday.

Goodwin, who went undrafted in 2018, played for the Atlanta Hawks last season, averaging 4.9 points, 2.0 assists, and 1.5 rebounds in 47 games, including five starts.

Powell signed an Exhibit 10 deal just two days ago. The former Seton Hall star could still play for the Knicks’ G League club unless he finds another team.

Bacon, meanwhile, was brought in on a non-guaranteed deal last August. Fred Katz of The Athletic first reported the news of Bacon getting waived.

As it stands, the Knicks have trimmed down their roster to 19 with less than one week left before the new season tips off.

They have 14 guaranteed roster spots and one two-way player in rookie Jericho Sims.

In his past media briefings, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau spoke highly of Wayne Selden‘s performance in their training camp, making him a hot candidate to take the 15th roster spot.

That leaves Goodwin, Aamir Simms, who made a good account of himself in Wednesday’s win over Pistons, and M.J. Walker to fight for the last two-way spot.

Simms scored two points, pulled down four rebounds, and had two assists in 11 minutes against the Pistons.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Odell Beckham Jr. and the New York Jets…so crazy it just might work?

The last thing the New York Jets need is a distraction, but the new offensive era could use an established top option at receiver.

Odell Beckham Jr.’s time working with the resurrection of one downtrodden franchise could be coming to an end. Could he assist in a new one via a return to East Rutherford?

A report from Jeff Howe of The Athletic hints that the Cleveland Browns could be moving on from the former New York Giant, who has failed to match the hype that surrounded 2019’s blockbuster trade that led to a blue-to-orange makeover. Beckham earned 1,035 yards in his first season in Cuyahoga County but an ACL injury limited him to only seven games of Cleveland’s first playoff run since 2002. He missed the first two games of this season while recovering from last year’s injury and earned 77 yards in his debut against Chicago, but has earned only 47 on four catches (10 targets) over the past two games. In that time, Cleveland’s aerial efforts have been headlined by David Njoku, Rashard Higgins, and Donovan Peoples-Jones.

There’s no guarantee that Cleveland (3-2) will ship Beckham off; the Browns earn back no cap relief if they trade him now and would save $15 million against the cap if they release him over the offseason. But a commodity like Beckham could fetch them a fine prize before the Nov. 2 trade deadline.

Should the New York Jets inquire?

At first glance, Beckham is perhaps the last thing this chapter of the Jets’ perpetual rebuild needs: they couldn’t avoid the temptation of Le’Veon Bell but stepping out of the Deshaun Watson/Antonio Brown sweepstakes turned out to be the right move. Sure, Brown won a Super Bowl, but he was part of a team effort in Tampa Bay that also featured the talents of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, Ronald Jones, Leonard Fournette…and, of course, the immortal Tom Brady.

But perhaps that’s what the Jets need: established talent in the skill position as they attempt to open a new, lasting era under center.

Even with the lack of early returns in the win column, it’s hard to quarrel with the Jets’ offseason yields. For a team that went 2-14 the year before, a spring haul of Corey Davis, Keelan Cole, and draft pick Elijah Moore (not to mention retaining Jamison Crowder on a far more affordable deal) was like winning the gridiron lottery.

Each was armed with something to prove. Davis, for example, was serviceable in Nashville after entering as 2017’s fifth overall draft pick, but that didn’t stop the Tennessee Titans from adding Julio Jones to work next to A.J. Brown. Some were surprised to see Moore drop to the second round of the draft. But the Jets were still lacking a proven, established No. 1 target, and that’s haunted the early stages of the Zach Wilson era so far. There’s a strong possibility one of their current representatives can become a top target in due time, but that doesn’t do them any good in the immediate future.

That’s where Beckham can help.

Bringing Beckham back to New Jersey…and the off-the-field extracurriculars and recreation attached to it and neighboring New York City…comes with its precautions. But from an on-field perspective, the Jets could use someone with his acumen. The lack of a consistent, established big-play talent has been one of the Jets’ long-tenured issues: they haven’t had a receiver hit four digits since Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker’s tandem season in the thousands back in 2015. Not only is that an eternity in football years but it should be downright impossible for a team in today’s NFL, one that worships a fantasy football deity, to not feature a 1,000-yard season. Robby Anderson might’ve been the one to break the spell but repping the Jets proved outright depressing and guided him toward Carolina.

Further assisting the Jets’ cause in a trade for Beckham, or another high-ticket deadline option, is the fact they have the capital for such deals. Parting with one of the firsts is obviously out of the question, but the Jets own eight total picks over the first four rounds of next spring’s draft. Adding a veteran asset like Ty Johnson or Denzel Mims…serviceable options who are buried on the offensive depth chart for different reasons…or Marcus Maye…whose support staff has made their interest in the trade deadline no secret…could help sweeten the pot.

Sep 16, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) runs the ball against New York Jets cornerback Darryl Roberts (27) during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A doable deal for Beckham could help Wilson take the next step of his development and could even hit the fast-forward button toward it. The next question, however, is whether Beckham even would accept such a deal. He himself admitted that his “ultimate goal” is to win a Super Bowl (the disastrous, post-boat trip, visit to Green Bay in the 2016-17 NFC Wild Card playoffs is his lone postseason contest to date) and no one needs to update the Jets’ gargantuan distance from the Big Game. What he could truly use is a nice, peaceful, quiet place to hit reset on his career from a personal perspective. Beckham’s endeavors on and off the field…and the media extravaganza that often follows…don’t afford him such a luxury, but moving on to a team that’s not-as-burdened with expectations could afford him the closest thing.

Having said all that, it’s perhaps the Jets once again watch the transactional proceedings involving a star player from the side. No matter how they play the Beckham situation, it’s going to create some unwanted fanfare. Beckham is more likely to get his wish of being sent to a contender while the Jets themselves are better off developing their young aerial talent (the time, thought, and energy around a deal for Beckham is likely better spent trying to find a role for the explosive Mims).

But, provided it doesn’t derail the rest of this chapter…one armed with hope, maturation, and development despite negative early returns…the idea of Beckham joining the Jets shouldn’t be automatically erased and laughed at.

After all, at this point, what’s there to lose…for either side?

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants: Jason Garrett says “there is a balance” to Daniel Jones runs

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants are getting used to utilizing Daniel Jones’ running ability more often, but that has come with both positives and negatives.

On one hand, running has been a useful skill for Jones during a season where both the pass protection and the traditional run game have often been lacking.

On the other hand, these runs come with an inherent risk and the Giants witnessed that firsthand when Jones received a concussion in their week 5 loss to the Cowboys.

The situation brings up a new question. Just how much will the Giants shy away from such runs in the future to avoid a similar result?

According to offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, there’s a balance that the coaching staff have to find.

“I think there is a balance there. I think we’d be foolish if we didn’t use his ability as a runner. It’s been such an asset for us, both him making plays spontaneously by moving in the pocket, but also some design stuff,” Garrett told reporters on Thursday.

Despite praising the utility of Jones’ ground game, Garrett also acknowledged the dangers.

“But at the same time, you have to be certainly aware of that. You don’t want to overdo that and put him in harm’s way. I think we’re understanding more and more, he’s understanding more and more the balance between those.”

It’s easy to imagine that the matter will be on the minds of the Giants coaches headed into the next game.

Right now, it’s looking like Jones will play – but his status is unclear, and the concussion scare is a warning about what could come of the Giants being too reckless in their strategy here.

With that being said, don’t expect them to approach week 6 too conservatively. The Giants are on the ropes at this point in the season and a loss will have them written off by many as a lost cause until next Draft.

If Jones is able to play, expect him to continue going 100%. His job may depend on it, and the jobs of the coaching staff may depend on turning the recent poor momentum around just as much.

Bellator 268 Preview: Vadim Nemkov – Julius Anglickas

This Saturday night in the main event of Bellator 268, the light heavyweight title is on the line as the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix continues. The champion Vadim Nemkov (14-2) is back as he’s taking on the surging challenger Julius Anglickas (10-1).

Originally, Nemkov was slated to take on Rumble Johnson in this semifinal matchup. However, after falling ill, Rumble had to pull out of the fight. Anglickas was originally scheduled to be on the Bellator 268 card and the promotion decided to add him to this matchup.

Anglickas will be making his fourth appearance with Bellator. He fought on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2019, but the UFC passed on him. After they didn’t sign him, Bellator scooped him up and he’s gone a perfect 3-0.

That said, Saturday night he’s going to have his hands full with the Bellator light heavyweight champion. Vadim Nemkov has been sensational since joining the promotion back in 2017. Since making his debut, he’s gone a perfect 6-0.

He captured the light heavyweight crown last year when he knocked out Ryan Bader at Bellator 244. In the opening round of the Grand Prix, he picked up his second win over Phil Davis. Despite the opponent change, Nemkov appears focused heading into Saturday.

Bellator 268 Prediction

Since losing out on his UFC contract, Anglickas has looked like a man possessed. He’s been incredibly good through his first three Bellator matchups and he does have a skillset that can give the champion some trouble on Saturday.

We’ve seen Nemkov get tired in a few of his fights. You can bet that Anglickas is going to be going for takedowns early on and he’s going to look to get the champion tired. However, Nemkov has shown the ability to stay on his feet and keep the fight at range.

When they’re striking, the Bellator champion has a big advantage. The movement and fluidity of strikes definitely favors Nemkov and I think that’s ultimately going to be the deciding factor. I wouldn’t rule out Anglickas landing a takedown here and there early on.

However, I think Nemkov is going to prove to be too much for the challenger. I think it’ll be more competitive than people thinking, but Nemkov is going to outstrike his way to another win and I think he gets a finish in the later rounds.

Prediction: Vadim Nemkov by TKO – Round 4

New York Yankees: Hitting coach Marcus Thames and 3rd base coach Phil Nevin are gone

The New York Yankees according to @lindseyadler have informed hitting coach Marcus Thames and third base coach Phil Nevin that their contracts will not be renewed. On October 10th I wrote:

Yankees need to rid themselves of Marcus Thames

It’s time for the Yankees to part ways with hitting coach Marcus Thames and assistant hitting coach P.J. Pelilttere. After losing in the postseason again, it’s effortless to start the blame game this time of year, but these two guys who coach the hitters have to go. They have not done their job. If one or two hitters weren’t hitting, you could blame those hitters, but when the problem is team-wide, you have to look to the coaching staff.

If there was one glaring deficiency with this team all season long, the Yankees did not consistently hit the ball, going through prolonged droughts that resulted in far too many games that the Yankees only scored three runs or less. At the end of the season, that stat stretched to 67 games with many when the Yankees only scored one or two runs. But, again, we are not talking about a low talent team; these are quality players that are not performing.

I can’t speak to the details of what’s wrong in the hitting department because I am not privy to what goes on in the coach’s room, but there is certainly something wrong. It could be that the coaches can’t motivate the players, or it could be the hit for the fence’s mentality. You can indeed win games with home runs, but you will win many more if there are men on base.

These coaches can’t seem to get hitters to hit for contact; the home runs would follow if they could do that. Again, if it was one or two players, you can blame the players, but you can’t blame all the players and not hold the coaches responsible. Even hitting stars Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton had doughts in their hitting between long balls. DJ LeMahieu, who led all of baseball in 2020, dropped 100 batting points this season, and the coaching staff in 162 games couldn’t resolve that problem. Gleyber Torres, who hit 38 homers in 2019, could only muster up 12 long balls in two years. The coaching staff has not been able to solve his lack of power.

All season long, Yankee fans kept saying what’s wrong that this powerful lineup can’t hit the ball. Even manager Aaron Boone couldn’t come up with any answers, constantly saying we have to get better. You also have to consider that neither of these coaches have particularly distinguished hitting careers in their own right. This writer doesn’t have the answers, but a shakeup of the coaching staff seems in order.

New York Rangers host the Dallas Stars in their home opener Thursday

The New York Rangers will face the Dallas Stars as they take to the Garden ice for their 95th home opener.

New York Rangers- 0-1-0
Dallas Stars-            0-0-0
Venue: Madison Square Garden
TV: MSG Network

 

The New York Rangers play their second game of the season on Thursday night when the team celebrates their home opening game against the Dallas Stars on Thursday night.

The Blueshirt are coming off a 5-1 loss to the Washington Capitals in a game that saw the Rangers take nine penalties. They allowed four power-play goals in the nine times they were shorthanded.

New York connected on their first goal of the season on a power-play opportunity in the third period. The Rangers finished the night 1-for-5 on the power play. Last season, the Rangers ranked 14th in the NHL in power-play efficiency (20.7%) and ranked tied for eighth in the NHL in power-play goals (37) last season. (NYRPR)

Projected Lines

Lafreniere-Zibanejad-Kreider
Panarin-Strome-Kakko
Blais-Chytil-Goodrow
Reaves-Rooney-Gauthier

Fox-Lindgren
Trouba-Miller
Nemeth-Lundkvist

Shesterkin

Notes From Wednesday’s Loss To Washington

– Chris Kreider put the Rangers on the board for the first time in 2021-22 with his 59th career power-play goal and 347th career point. His 59 power-play goals tie Andy Bathgate for the 12th most PPG’s in franchise history. Kreider’s 347 points are four away from tying Petr Nedved (351) for the 27th most in franchise history.

– Adam Fox notched his first point of the season with an assist on Kreider’s goal. Over the last two seasons (2020-21 – 2021-22), Fox has 22 power-play assists, the third-most in the NHL and second among defensemen (Hedman – 23).

– Ryan Strome also earned an assist on Kreider’s goal, earning him points in eight of his last nine games (3G-7A) against Washington. In 33 career games against the Capitals, Strome has eight goals and 18 assists for 36 points.

– Six players (Jarred Tinordi, Patrik Nemeth, Barclay Goodrow, Dryden Hunt, Ryan Reaves, Sammy Blais) made their Rangers debut tonight. Out of that pack, Goodrow led the way with two shots and Reaves had five hits.

– Gerard Gallant coached his first game with the Rangers, the fourth team (CBJ, FLA, VGK, NYR) he has manned the bench for in his career. Gallant is the 36th head coach in franchise history. Gallant now carries a 270-217-4-51 (W-L-T-OT) record over his head coaching career.

– Alexandar Georgiev made his 90th career start for the Rangers, making 22 saves in the loss. Georgiev is the 19th goaltender in team history to start in 90 or more games.

New York Yankees Analysis: Aaron Boone, the great debate

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

New York Yankee fans over the past week have been trying to swallow a bitter pill, another early exit to the postseason. First, they lost the wild card game against their traditional rivals, the Boston Red Sox. Now they have to sit back and watch teams they really don’t like advance to World Series play. The Yankees have now not even played in a World Series contest since 2009. Twelve years of pain, and Yankee fans want answers.

The blame game is in full swing, with some blaming the underperforming players, the coaches, the manager, and even the front office and the analytics department. But without a doubt to the most significant debate has been if Aaron Boone should be fired now that his contract will be over at the end of the World Series.

Opinions vary widely, but I think one thing is for sure with the highest payroll in baseball since they last won the Championship, something is not working. The team also didn’t win another World Championship after 2009 when Joe Girardi was still manager. I have constantly believed that there is some problem in the analytics department on how they use the analytics what they have to interrupt. How they convey it to the manager, and then they don’t give the manager the ability to override those when his gut sees something different happening that day or on the field when a decision has to be made.

I have heard (no proof) that at times more than a dozen people in the front office sit around a table and decide that day’s lineup. That is just wrong if true. No one has a better handle on how the club or individual players are playing than the manager; based on what is happening that day, analytics are based over time and do not necessarily pertain to what would happen on a particular day or game.

Obviously, the New York Yankees hired a manager they thought would be open to or at least accept front office rule. The Yankees would never hire a manager like Billy Martin, who would want complete control over what happens on the field. Maybe that is what is wrong.

In this writer’s opinion, the New York Yankees need a shakeup. Deceased owner George Steinbrenner would never stand for all this nonsense that has kept the team from winning it all. Hal is not his father’s son, he is not the same baseball man he was, and he depends on his organization to operate the club, with his contribution being that of allocating the funds he wants to spend. You have to remember Boone did not acquire the players he has to perform with; the front office and general manager Brian Cashman did that.

I nevertheless don’t think that Aaron Boone is the best manager for the job, as he and his coaches have failed to motivate a team of mostly quality players. This season Gerrit Cole, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton performed to expectations. However, the rest of the team underperformed for the most part, and I hold Boone primarily responsible for that. When a player in the cleanup spot (or any other spot) is not performing, Boone needs to bark and throw the analytics out. I also don’t believe he has used his bullpen to the best of their abilities.

The Yankees have been saddled with injuries and Covid related issues at times in the season, but so has every other team. They have been more than lucky to have Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton healthy for a complete season. If the Tampa Bay Rays operate on a shoestring budget and get faceless players and motivate them to be at their best, the Yankees should also be able to do it. Their front office and manager operate to a higher standard, and it’s that simple.

Getting back to if Aaron Boone should be replaced. I don’t think it makes a difference who has field control if the front office makes all the decisions and passes them down to the manager to follow. The Yankees need a strong manager with complete knowledge of baseball and how to use both analytics and his gut to get the best out of his team.

Recently, Michael Kay, Buster Olney, Bryan Hoch, and others say that the Yankees organization is “leaning toward” keeping both Cashman and Boone. Some have pointed out that if he leaves, the Yankees he is under consideration as the new manager of the San Diego Padres. We will know sooner than later, as no changes to the team will be made before we hear the final decision on management changes.

I conducted a very short poll across Facebook Yankees groups to get the pulse on Yankees fans and if they thought Boone should go. This was a very unscientific poll and only involved 139 responses, but all groups had similar percentages. I gave those groups three options. 1. Boone stinks and should be let go. 2. Boone has done a great job; keep him. 3. I’m not sure as I don’t know how much he is responsible for. Here is how the poll turned out. He should go 36.25%, great job, 7%, not sure 56.75%. I would imagine that the percentages would be similar among a larger number of responses; if not, I will update this article.

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

 

 

 

Yankees: Could Carlos Correa be an option via free agency?

Carlos Correa, Houston Astros

The New York Yankees need a shortstop for 2022. Carlos Correa, who currently plays for the Houston Astros and is about to start his participation on the 2021 AL Championship Series, will be a free agent after the season.

Over the years, there has been some history between Correa and the Yankees. He hasn’t been shy when celebrating big postseason hits or moments, he was part of the 2017 sign-stealing scandal in Houston, and overall, he is not well-liked by most of the fan base.

But if he will hit the market, is willing to come, and performs, most Yankees fans would be smart to leave the past behind and embrace that hypothetical scenario.

The biggest problem for a team like the Yankees, one with two contracts worth more than $300 million already and a pending negotiation with Aaron Judge for a possible extension, would be money.

Not that money should be an issue for a team like the Yankees, but it’s unlikely they want to give another contract close to $300 million under those circumstances, and with two potential solutions coming from the minor leagues soon (Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe, although they may not be ready in 2022).

Is Correa on the Yankees’ radar?

But what about Correa? It’s not clear if he will be willing to come to New York, but he hasn’t closed the door. Here is what he told NBC Sports Chicago about his next contract and how many years he wants to sign for:

“You know, a lot of people don’t believe in 10-year contracts and in long-term deals and all that. But when you look at most of the 10-year contracts they’ve been giving out, the long-term deals, they’re players that are 31, 30, 32. I’m going to be 27 on my first year. I’m young, I’m healthy, and I perform. So we’ll see what happens.”

The shortstop explained the reasons why he thinks he may be worth around the same amount of money paid to fellow shortstops Fernando Tatis Jr. and Francisco Lindor.

“I led the league in WAR for Baseball Reference, led the league in defensive WAR and had a great offensive year. So when you talk about shortstops that can do both things at an elite level, I think you should mention my name.”

The Yankees, seeing how Gleyber Torres couldn’t handle shortstop, had to improvise with Gio Urshela there in the stretch run. Will they be willing to splash the cash for Correa?

Pete Rose rips Yankees’ slugger Joey Gallo: ‘Ray Charles wouldn’t strike out that much’

joey gallo, yankees

The New York Yankees acquired outfielder Joey Gallo before the trade deadline, in a transaction with the Texas Rangers. The slugger, famous for his tape measure home runs and his penchant for strikeouts, struggled in his first 2+ months in pinstripes, with a .160/.303/.404 line, 13 homers, a .707 OPS and 88 punchouts in 188 at-bats.

He is, however, a productive hitter overall when one considers his power and patience to draw walks. Even with all the strikeouts, he has managed to be a well-above average performer over the course of his career, not to mention a sneaky-good athlete and a terrific defender in the outfield.

But it’s not a secret that his stint with the Yankees, to this point, hasn’t gone well. The fan base has been fairly critical of his performance, and one former MLB star in particular bashed him in a recent media appearance.

Harsh words for the Yankees’ slugger

“That was the worst f–king lineup they could have put on the field,” Rose said to USA Today, per NESN (link to the New York Post article here). “Their 6, 7, 8, 9 hitters were all out-men. They had to have (Aaron) Judge and (Giancarlo) Stanton do something. If they didn’t, all of the pressure was on Joey Gallo. You saw how that worked out.

“How does someone who didn’t play every day strike out 213 times? Ray Charles wouldn’t strike out that much. I just can’t imagine striking out 213 times without killing myself,” he stated.

Despite the disrespectful tirade, it should be noted that Gallo is under contract with the Yankees for at least one more season, and he is capable of big things both at the plate and on the field. At the moment of the trade, in late July, he was hitting .223/.379/.490 with a .869 OPS with the Rangers.

As a fun fact, Gallo’s career .822 OPS is significantly better than Rose’s .784 mark.