Aspen Ladd a sharp betting play at UFC Vegas 40

aspen ladd, mma

While this may be getting out to you a bit late, there is still plenty of time for you to get to the window and make some money on this fine Saturday evening.

Despite many (including myself) labeling this UFC Vegas 40 card at the APEX in Las Vegas the weakest card in UFC history, that doesn’t make women’s UFC top-10 pound-for-pound fighter Aspen Ladd (9-1, 4-1 UFC) any less worthy of earning your respect when it comes to wagering your hard-earned money on her tonight.

The 26-year-old (former?) phenom has made plenty of waves recently for all the wrong reasons, as the (definitely former) UFC bantamweight missed weight yet again ahead of a canceled bout with Macy Chiasson just a couple of weeks ago. Yet tonight, she has a real chance to make up for all of that and put some much-needed sizzle into the women’s featherweight division.

Interestingly enough, Ladd’s opponent has had her fair share of struggles while attempting to make the 135-pound limit at bantamweight. Norma Dumont (6-1, 2-1 UFC) is likely not psyched to be fighting the super-dangerous Ladd on short notice after former champion Holly Holm had to back out of this fight last minute.

According to Fanduel Sportsbook, Ladd heads into this matchup as just a -135 favorite as of fight night, which likely has much to do with her struggles on the scale. To be fair, she also is coming off an almost two-year layoff after a torn ACL threw an unwanted wrench into her young career.

That is a lot to overcome, but I firmly believe we’re getting terrific value on Aspen Ladd here do to a lukewarm (to be nice) public narrative on her at the moment. If you know me, you know I love to take advantage of a narrative affecting a line any time I can.

We’ll sprinkle in Ladd by KO/TKO at +270, as well, as the California native has finished a dynamite 77% of her career fights professionally and 75% of her amateur bouts (which gives us a solid sample size).

With Nate ‘The Train’ Landwehr already cashing for us tonight as a bonus play, tonight could be our first step back toward respectability on this site on what is shaping up to be an electric end of the year schedule in the UFC world.

Official plays:

Aspen Ladd -135 for 3.5U

Aspen Ladd by KO/TKO +270 for 1U

ADDING: Brent Primus +106 for 2.8U

YTD: 1-3, -5.9U (if you remember my debut giving out picks on this site, which I hope you don’t)

Let’s get it people.

New York Giants: Kadarius Toney speaks on Jalen Ramsey matchup, Daniel Jones relationship

kadarius toney, giants

During the week 6 game between the New York Giants and the Los Angeles Rams, a lot of eyes will be on Kadarius Toney and Jalen Ramsey.

Toney, after all, is coming off a breakout performance where he led the Giants offense in yardage and showed some truly impressive mobility. Ramsey, on the other hand, has long been a premier corner and will have the task of shutting down whatever receiver he’s assigned to cover.

There’s practically a made-for-TV matchup there, if Ramsey does end up covering Toney rather than Sterling Shepard or Darius Slayton.

It’s also a matchup that Toney was asked about during Friday’s media availability. The Giants rookie, however, wasn’t making a big deal about it.

“It’s football, everybody has their on-plays and off-plays,” Toney said when asked if Ramsey can cover him. “It’s equal when you step on the field.”

Ramsey is a player that has a tendency to get under the skin of the opposing team’s wide receivers. But Toney isn’t too worried about that happening.

“If that’s what he wants to do, then that’s just what he’s going to do. If he’s going to try – I mean, you can always attempt, but you can’t always get the result that you want out of it.”

He called his ejection in last week’s game part of a learning process, and said to not expect anything like it again. From the looks of things, Toney plans on taking a quiet approach to dealing with the opposing team.

“I’m a silent assassin. I don’t talk to nobody on the field,” he assured.

Kadarius Toney showing chemistry with Daniel Jones already

It’s important for a wide receiver to have good chemistry with the quarterback. After an offseason where Toney had multiple absences, some wondered if Toney would be able to build that chemistry from Jones.

But from the looks of things, the first few weeks of the season have been enough to establish a bond. When asked about rushing to Jones after his concussion, Toney had some positive things to say about his relationship with his quarterback.

“That’s my brother. That’s my dog. At the end of the day, if he’s hurt, I’m hurt. That really kind of made me go harder, just knowing that he wasn’t able to do what he’ll normally do, like contribute as much as he can, just put another chip on my shoulder.”

There’s a fair chance for Jones and Toney to build more chemistry in week 6. Saquon Barkley and Kenny Golladay have been ruled out for tomorrow’s game, and even if Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton make a return, both players may be rusty after missing two weeks of action.

That assumes, of course, that Jones plays. While Jones has cleared the concussion protocol, whether or not he should start remains a controversial subject.

Barring a setback, there’s no more roadblocks to Jones returning to the field. But the decision is in the hands of the coaching staff. It’s still unknown to the public just how cautious the coaching staff intends to be with Jones’ return.

With that being said, the performance against Dallas shows us that Toney can still play dangerously even if Mike Glennon is at quarterback.

And given the controversy around bringing Jones back the week following his concussion, we may just end up seeing Glennon making passes to Toney instead on Sunday if Joe Judge makes the more cautious choice and rests Jones.

Knicks waive 4 players to reach 15: Brandon Goodwin, Brandon Knight, Aamir Simms, MJ Walker

aamir simms, knicks

The New York Knicks executed a slew of moves on Saturday afternoon to cut the roster to 15 ahead of the regular season. With the first game coming on October 20 against the Boston Celtics, the Knicks are now in a good place with a solid group of players to hopefully elevate a team that enjoyed a successful resurgence in 2021.

The preseason for the Knicks has been extravagant, as the team earned a victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday night thanks to Julius Randle on a buzzer-beater to end the game. Down by 19 points in the third quarter, the Knicks marched their way back, propelling them into the regular season on a high note.

However, the Knicks had to make multiple moves to cut the roster down, including the waiving of Brandon Goodwin, Brandon Knight, Aamir Simms, and MJ Walker.

The Knicks signed veteran guard Brandon Knight on Saturday, quickly waving him after the 29-year-old spent last season with the Detroit Pistons, averaging 11.6 points and 4.2 assists per game over nine games. Knight, who originally was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft, will be looking for a new home, but unfortunately, it won’t be with a New York team.

The Knicks also waived Goodwin, who has been the talk of the town regarding COVID-19 vaccinations after he claimed it gave him blood clots last season, putting his career in jeopardy. Goodwin didn’t enjoy any action with the team before being waived on Saturday.

Simms, who has spent the summer and off-season with the Knicks, unfortunately, could not make a significant impact. The Knicks didn’t utilize Simms enough during the preseason to get an adequate sample size of his talents, but considering how deep the team is, they didn’t bat an eye choosing rookie Jericho Sims instead.

The final move the team made was waiving MJ Walker, who was a rookie out of Florida State this off-season. Last year with the Seminoles, he posted 12.2 points over 24 games. The Knicks have a ton of quality guards, so his talents simply weren’t needed. It is possible he lands on the G-League team.

Knicks’ Thibodeau showcases interesting player combo in win over Wizards

quentin grimes, knicks

The New York Knicks played their final preseason game of the off-season as if it were a playoff contest against the Washington Wizards on Friday evening. Winning every single game prior to the start of the regular season on October 20, the Knicks are flying high into a year where expectations are elevated after adding Evan Fournier and Kemba walker in free agency.

The Knicks’ final win over Washington proved multiple things, including their resilience and perseverance to come back from a deficit that reached as high as 19 points. Marching their way back in the fourth quarter, All-Star power forward Julius Randle connected on a step-back jumper to win the game, and while it didn’t have any meaning on the schedule, it provided the team with plenty of motivation and confidence moving forward.

However, one of the more interesting takeaways from the game was a player combination curated by head coach Tom Thibodeau. With Alec Burks resting in the final preseason matchup, rookie Quentin Grimes picked up his minutes instead, and he provided fantastic and aggressive defense the entire fourth quarter.

The lineup Thibodeau chose didn’t include a center with Taj Gibson fouling out — it featured Julius Randle and Obi Toppin as the enforcers down low.

  • PF: Julius Randle
  • PF: Obi Toppin
  • PG: Derrick Rose
  • SG: RJ Barrett
  • SG: Quentin Grimes

Derrick Rose looked like his vintage self, which seems to be more of a regular occurrence. He posted 28 points on 11-of-20 shooting from the field over 29 minutes. He also contributed six assists which benefited the team tremendously during their comeback.

This combination indicates that Grimes would likely be the supplement for Burks or Barrett if either are unable to play for a given reason. While the Houston product only connected on 2-of-9 shots, he earned a +16 +/- and contributed six rebounds and two steals over 21 minutes.

Getting Grimes a solid sample size of playing time was essential for Thibodeau, who needed to see him in a more prominent role with the starters before the regular season commenced. His fantastic defense will likely aid in his development this year and provide comfort for Thibodeau when he’s on the floor. If Quentin can begin hitting his shots more consistently, he could be a dangerous weapon off the bench for a team that is already considerably deep at most positions.

New York Yankee Legends: Tony Kubek

The New York Yankees have been blessed with some players that have become Yankee legends over the years. Some because of their iconic play, some due to their community service, and others because of the Yankee fan’s admiration for a collection of reasons. Over the illustrious 120 year history of the Yankees, they have had some of the most talented men ever to play the game of baseball. Tony Kubec (1957-1965) is one of those players. He had a 39-year career in baseball.

Anthony Christopher Kubek was born on October 12, 1935, in Milwaukee. He was the only boy of three children born to a father that was an outfielder with the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association but did not make it to the major leagues. Instead, he went to work in a tannery, a tool and tie plant, and a brewery and then found some security working for the Post Office. Tony had two sisters, Carol and Christine. With his father in baseball, he learned to play at a young age.

He was a multi-talented sport freak the excelled at baseball, football, and track at Bay View High School in Milwaukee. After his freshman year, the school would drop the baseball team. But that wouldn’t stop Tony from playing as he found several sandlot teams to play for. One day in 1952, at the age of 16, Kubek would be noticed by a Yankee scout Maguolo and invited to participate in the Hearst Sandlot Classic at Yankee Stadium. The exhibition game would pit the New York All-Stars against players from all over the country. Kubek caught the attention of the many scouts at the game. Tony wanted to play for the Yankees and take Phil Rizzuto’s place as the Yankee shortstop, so he signed with the Yankees in 1954. He played just over two years in the minors for the Yankees, and he attended Casey Stengel’s instructional course at each spring training.

In his last season in the minors, Tony would hit .334 with 14 home runs while with the Denver Bears. While there, Kubek formed a strong friendship with Bobby Richardson, his keystone partner, for nine seasons in New York. Kubek’s manager at Denver would be Ralph Houk, who would also manage him later with the Yankees. In 1956 Stengel would work the young Kubek hard in spring training to prepare him for the majors. He would play him all over the field and usually for nine innings. So naturally, Stengel wanted to see as many bats from him and how he ran the bases.

Tony would debut at the beginning of 1957, playing in the outfield, then the shortstop and 3rd base. At the plate, Tony would start slow, hitting only .243. But in June would have a long hitting streak and raise his batting average to .312. That year the Yankee would win the pennant and be in the World Series against the Milwaukee Braves. Now that the Braves left Boston and were in Milwaukee, his family and friends could watch him play. Unfortunately, for the first-year Yankee, he would have a throwing error that would cost the Yankees the series. But, non the less he would win the Rookie of the Year Award.

Due to his excellent play at short during his rookie year, he was awarded the starting shortstop, moving Gil McDougald to second. Kubek was awarded the Rookie of the Year Award. They made quite a dynamic pair in the infield, Kubek turned 98, and McDougald turned 97 double plays. He would end the season in 1957, hitting .297. 1958 would not be a good year for Tony as he had a few injuries and lost 32 points off his 257 batting average, but still, be an All-Star but would not play in the game. After the season, he was to fulfill six months in the military but was released early in March. Thus, he was ready to begin the season in 1959. Casey Stengel was famous for platooning players, and Kubeck and McDougald would share the Shortstop position while Bobby Richardson would defend second. The Yankees would come in third in the division.

During 1960 the Yankees would regain their winning ways. A year in which Kubek would get his second MVP nomination. The Yankees would again win the pennant. In the World Series Game 7, Kubek would be badly injured when a lousy hop caused a ball to hit him in the throat. The Pirates won the World Series. Kubek would go on to play for the Yankees until 1965, mainly as a shortstop. In 1962 he would have a career-high batting average of .314. All and all, Kubek would play 1,092 games for the Yankees; his 38 doubles in 1961 would be a record that held until 2004. He was an All-Star three times and an MVP candidate three times as well. The 1965 season would see Kubek’s average drop to .218 while still being an excellent defender at shortstop.

After the season, he would retire from his 9-year career, all with the Yankees.
Kubek being a fan favorite, quickly moved into the field of announcing and commentating on NBC’s game of the week. He would develop an association with Bob Costas and provide color for at least a dozen World Series and Championship Series nationally. As well, he did local telecasts for the Toronto Blue Jays along with All-Star games. At the Baseball Hall of Fame, he would receive the Ford C. Frick Award and enshrinement into baseball’s Hall of Fame broadcast wing. He was also inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.

Kubek is presently 86 years old. He and his wife Margaret reside in Appleton, Wisconsin. They were blessed with two sons, two daughters, and five grandchildren. He had made only one appearance at Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium in 1986 when it was the 25th reunion of 1961 players.

Yankees could consider trading lefty slugger after disappointing 2021 season

joey gallo, yankees

The New York Yankees face an interesting off-season as general manager Brian Cashman tries to navigate his future team. With a number of players on long-term contracts, is unlikely he’s able to find any trade partners that would give them a bit of financial relief. However, the Bombers added more high-priced players last season at the trade deadline than sent away, which has presented an interesting conversation, especially regarding lefty slugger Joey Gallo.

Gallo is capable of playing like a legitimate MVP contender, but his season with the Yankees was littered with inconsistencies and strikeouts. Joey has one more season on his contract at $9.5 million, and if the Yankees feel as though he doesn’t bring enough value to the team, he could end up being a trade candidate.

This past year, Gallo spent the first 95 games with the Texas Rangers, making 388 plate appearances, hosting a .223 batting average with 25 homers and 55 RBIs. He struck out 125 times in that range. However, his numbers took a nosedive when he joined the Yankees, posting 228 plate appearances, tallying 13 homers and 22 RBIs with a .160 batting average. He struck out 38.6% with the Yanks, which would mark a career-high with a minimum of 200 at-bats.

Overall, his numbers were pedestrian while donning the pinstripes, but he did post an impressive 3.5 fWAR and 38 total homers, which fits into the Yankees’ offensive strategy perfectly. He also presented solid defensive qualities, which is surprising for a player of his stature.

While it is likely the Yankees retain Gallo for the last season on his contract, considering they desperately need to retain lefty hitters instead of sending them away, there is a possibility he is traded. It was only one year ago that Brett Gardner was making a similar amount and offering far less offensively than the former Ranger did this past season.

Ultimately, the Yankees would be kicking themselves if they didn’t give Gallo another opportunity to enjoy the short porch in Yankee stadium. He’s not overly expensive and if he plays to potential, he would take the Yankees’ offense to another level.

What do you think, should the Yankees keep or trade away Joey Gallo? Comment here!

Despite clearing concussion protocol, the New York Giants need to err on side of caution with Daniel Jones

daniel jones, new york giants

With news breaking late Friday afternoon that New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones has officially had his concussion injury designation removed from the team’s official report, most sources close to the team believe that means the third-year signal-caller is a lock to suit up on Sunday against the Rams.

I’m here to tell you, however, that much like the New York Giants’ approach in just about every other respect over the past few years, that would be incredibly short-sighted.

According to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post, Daniel Jones suiting up for the New York Giants is exactly what is going to take place this weekend.

While many diehard New York Giants fans will be quick to fire back at the prudent approach that entails letting Jones sit out for this important matchup, the Big Blue brass has never once seriously considered the fans’ wishes anyway; this would be a poor time to start doing so.

The basis of my take on this specific matter relies upon the premise that the NFL’s concussion protocol is still very much subjective. Concussions themselves, to a greater point, are subjective in nature.

It is true that there are three different grades for concussions, yet in my mind, even a ‘Grade 1’ concussion needs to taken very seriously, especially for a young quarterback. Let alone for a young QB that was visibly shaken and stumbling off of the field in Dallas just five days ago.

With the long-term empirical data still very much lacking in regards to the injury as a whole, the New York Giants would be foolish to go ahead and trot out their most prized asset so soon after what looked like a traumatic injury.

And yes, as is almost always the case: context matters here.

The New York Giants are a mediocre – at best – football team right now with a 1-4 record, heading into this matchup against one of the NFL’s best teams as greater than a touchdown underdog. If you don’t believe those things should factor into trying to determine whether or not your (lone) shining star should get back out onto the field on the early side of their injury timeline, you are kidding yourself.

So while, in general, I firmly believe that an organization ought to do whatever it possibly can to win games while the team is still mathematically alive in the playoff hunt, that does not mean I am down with putting just about the only truly positive thing going for this franchise in harm’s way behind a shaky offensive line against a fearsome defensive unit.

Those two ideas are not mutually exclusive.

Knicks Notes: Derrick Rose is the not so secret ingredient, Robinson enjoys first action

derrick rose, knicks

New York Knicks veteran point guard Derrick Rose might’ve given the starting point guard job away to Kemba Walker, but he is a catalyst to success for the team this upcoming season. In the Knicks’ buzzer-beater win over the Washington Wizards in the preseason finale, Rose looked like his vintage self, playing in 29 minutes and scoring 28 points.

Rose contributed 11 field goals on 20 attempts and shot 50% from three-point range over six attempts. Rose also added six assists, three rebounds, and didn’t turn the ball over once.

After an extremely productive season with the Knicks last year after being traded from the Detroit Pistons, head coach Tom Thibodeau immediately made him a focal point. Despite the addition of Walker, the expectation is that both will play a significant amount this upcoming season in hopes of fueling another postseason team.

Rose has enjoyed a solid preseason, which he hopes to roll over against the Boston Celtics next Wednesday at 7:30 PM. In addition to Rose, second-year player Obi Toppin also performed well, posting nine points and picking up eight rebounds and three blocks over 20 minutes. He shot 50% from the field and provided solid defense, which is something that he struggled with during his rookie season.

Rookie Quentin Grimes also experience 21 minutes of play, and while he struggled shooting, he did pick up six rebounds, two steals, and provided suffocating defense on Washington’s point guards.

However, one of the priorities for Thibs was to get center Mitchell Robinson some action after spending the last year rehabilitating from a fractured foot injury. Robinson has been working diligently in the weight room to increase his overall size and stature, as he contributed six points, nine rebounds, and two steals over 27 minutes. Robinson showed off some of his newfound muscle in the paint, shaking off defenders and dominating the rim.

The Knicks were able to get Robinson involved plenty, and his energy was contagious for the rest of the team, especially on defense. He had a few electrifying putback dunks that elevated fans at MSG. It is no question that Robinson is going to play a significant role this upcoming year for a team that needs an aggressor in the paint. Having Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson in tow will also be beneficial, but this Knicks team is rolling hot in the regular season after winning four consecutive preseason games.

Julius Randle sets the tone for Knicks’ season with a game-winner

New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau made his final instruction loud and clear.

“Make the shot. End the game. Get the win.”

Julius Randle and the Knicks followed it to the letter.

Randle beat the buzzer with a fallaway jumper to complete the Knicks’ furious 19-point comeback, 115-113, over the Washington Wizards Friday night in front of a roaring 12,258 Madison Square Garden crowd.

With the game hanging in the balance in a preseason finale that had the intensity of a win-or-go-home playoff game, Randle’s game-winner set the tone for one of the most anticipated seasons in New York Knicks history.

“We didn’t want to leave any time on the clock,” Thibodeau said. “It’s a huge shot. It’s a great game for us because we had to navigate through a lot of things and just finding a way to win in the end is the most important thing.”

The Knicks dug deep to pull this one out.

Thibodeau got a technical foul. Taj Gibson fouled out. Mitchell Robinson had to play big minutes in his first game back since March 27.

The plan was to let Robinson’s feet get wet. But he did more than that. The 23-year old center dunked hard and flexed his newly gained muscle on his way to six points, nine rebounds, and two steals.

But still, the Knicks stared at a 13-point deficit with 6:54 left in the game. With the Wizards seemingly answering every Knicks’ rally even without their star Bradley Beal in the entire second half, Thibodeau made one last gamble. He inserted Randle back into the game to replace a gassed Robinson, who played 26 minutes.

After the Randle-Obi Toppin frontcourt yielded mixed results in the past, it turned out to be an ace up his sleeve this time. The finishing lineup of Derrick Rose, rookie Quentin Grimes, RJ Barrett, Toppin, and Randle outscored the Wizards, 29-14, that preserved the Knicks’ perfect preseason.

That small ball lineup pushed the ball, played with pace and space on offense, and rotated quickly on defense.

“I thought Washington played really well and then finally we caught a little rhythm in the fourth (quarter), dug our way out of the hole,” Thibodeau said. And that [small ball] team was hustling like crazy, flying around, got going into the open floor a little bit then made plays, made some big shots.”

Rose, Grimes, and Toppin played the entire fourth quarter posting 17 net plus-minus.

Rose scattered 14 of his game-high 28 points and dished out three of his six assists in the final 12 minutes. During that stretch, Grimes hit a big three-pointer and was all over the court, adding three rebounds, two assists, and two steals that impressed Thibodeau.

“I thought Quentin gave us some really good minutes. I thought Obi and Julius were terrific,” Thibodeau said. “That group that we finished with was good. And that’s the way the season goes. There’s a lot of different things that happen and then you start to search when you get in a hole like that and you find something.”

Small-ball center Randle scored 11 points in the final 6:54 of the game. He finished with a double-double (21 points, 10 rebounds) in 35 minutes. Toppin had seven points and seven rebounds in the fourth quarter. The second-year forward tallied nine points, eight rebounds, three assists and three blocks in easily his best game yet.

The Wizards still had a 10-point lead with 4:01 left, but then the Knicks found their mark from the outside. Barrett, Rose, Grimes, and Randle hit one three-pointer after another down the stretch.

After hitting only 11 of their first 37 tries, the Knicks made four of their last five to end up with a 35.7 percent mark.

Barrett had another efficient night going 4 for 6 from deep and 7 of 14 overall for 18 points.

After endlessly shuffling the deck in a game that was slipping away, Thibodeau found an ace with that finishing group that he thought he never had.

“It’s very positive. It’s good to know that we have that as part of what we can do,” Thibodeau said. “And that’s what I like about our team is the versatility of guys playing multiple positions. We could give you a completely different look with Julius at the five, Obi at the four. Obviously, offensively we’re a lot better but I think we found something particularly with Quentin in there. I think he gives us another winged defender that is really good.”

Grimes seized the opportunity when Alec Burks was given the night off. The rookie out of the University of Houston came to the NBA with a reputation as a solid 3-and-D prospect. He overcame a jittery start to finish with six points, two rebounds, two assists, and two steals while cooling off Raul Neto’s hot hands. Grimes held Neto to six points in the fourth quarter after the Washington backup guard scored 19 points in the first three quarters, stepping up for Beal, who exited the game with a knee contusion.

Knicks new starting backcourt Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier combined for 20 points and nine assists, but they were also a combined 7 of 19 from the floor. They watched on the bench as the Knicks made the run in the fourth quarter.

Their chemistry with the starting unit is still a work in progress. Thibodeau said it would come in time as they play more together. But he wanted his new backcourt to play to their strengths.

“I thought Evan and also Kemba is almost a little too unselfish. When the ball is coming to them, I want them to be who they are. I don’t want them trying to fit in and then they get themselves out of rhythm,” said Thibodeau.

A perfect record in the preseason doesn’t mean anything. But to Thibodeau, it means something.

“The thing for us is the games are like tests. And so the things that you’re working on in practice, you want to see what it looks like in a game. So it tells you something,” Thibodeau said.

Four preseason games. Four different challenges. In each game, the Knicks learned more about themselves and the ones that needed more work.

“The whole idea is you begin with the end in mind. So in the end, what do we need? We want to be playing with our best basketball at the end of the year. There are no shortcuts to this,” Thibodeau said. “It’s day after the day.”

On Friday night, they took a step forward to that goal, playing their best basketball at the end of the game.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo