Giants sign experienced left guard from the Arizona Cardinals, here’s what you need to know

The New York Giants have made another signing on the offensive line. New general manager Joe Schoen has brought stability to the offensive line this offseason, signing a group of veteran linemen. Today, the Giants signed Max Garcia, an experienced left guard who started 11 games for the Arizona Cardinals in 2021.

What does Max Garcia bring to the New York Giants?

Max Garcia was a fourth-round pick by the Denver Broncos in 2015. He spent 2015-2018 with Denver before signing on with Arizona for the 2019-2021 seasons. Across the past seven years, Garcia has played in 93 games, making 52 starts. He has also appeared in four playoff games with one start.

The Giants love versatility on their offensive line. New additions Jon Feliciano and Matt Gono are both versatile offensive linemen that can play more than one position. Max Garcia also fits that archetype, having the versatility to play anywhere on the interior. Garcia has made 39 regular-season starts at left guard, nine at right guard, and four at center. His postseason start was at right guard.

Max Garcia has the ability to fill in at more than one position on the New York Giants’ offensive line. Garcia is likely viewed as a potential starter at left guard or a backup at more than one position. Whichever role Garcia fits into, he will be an improvement over what the Giants had last season. In 2021, Garcia was a Pro Bowl alternate selection after starting in 11 games for the Arizona Cardinals.

Garcia will likely compete for starting reps at left guard. He gave up 4 sacks and 13 hurries last season over 808 snaps. Joe Schoen has delivered once again, signing his fifth offensive lineman of the free agency period despite an extraordinarily small budget. Max Garcia will compete for starting snaps on a low wage. The New York Giants have not made any splashes, but they have quietly improved their offensive line this offseason.

Mets to commemorate Johan Santana’s no-hitter on May 31

Johan Santana pitched only four seasons with the New York Mets, but they were enough for him to captivate fans all around the city. This was especially true on May 31, 2012, when he pitched the first no-hitter in franchise history.

It was one of the best and most memorable moments in the Mets’ rich history, and the organization will honor Santana in a pregame ceremony on May, 31. It will be before the game against the Washington Nationals.

Not only Santana will be present that day to share the memories with fans, but his catcher that night, Josh Thole, will also be there.

“I can’t believe it’s been 10 years almost since we made history,” Santana said on a Zoom call. “Every time you look back, you think about it and you bring back those memories, and it’s always like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I’ve done that.’ But it’s part of what we do. It’s part of history now.”

“It truly seems like it was yesterday,” Thole added. “For me, going through and navigating the game, getting deeper into the game, is what will always forever stand out.”

Both Santana and Thole will be at the Mets Old Timers’ Day in August

Additionally, it was announced that both Santana and Thole also will participate in the Mets’ Old-Timers’ Day on Aug. 27.

Mets’ fans will be in for a treat that day, as they remember an incredible game. It took Santana 134 pitches to accomplish the feat, but it was all official after he struck out David Freese in the ninth.

That 2012 season wasn’t all that kind for Santana, who finished with a 4.85 ERA and didn’t pitch in the majors after that year. But nobody will ever take that night away from him, and no one with a Mets’ uniform has been able to do what he did that night.

After huge knockout win at UFC Columbus, what’s next for Curtis Blaydes?

Curtis Blaydes, UFC

This past Saturday in the main event of UFC Columbus, we saw a showdown in the heavyweight division. Top contenders battled it out as Curtis “Razor” Blaydes (16-3, 1 NC) took on Chris Daukaus (12-4).

It was a huge fight for both men as they were looking to stabilize themselves near the very top of the heavyweight division. For Blaydes, he was looking to pick up his second straight UFC win after getting knocked out by Derrick Lewis back in February of 2021.

The last time we saw Blaydes, he used a wrestling heavy attack to defeat Jairzinho Rozenstruik. Given Daukaus’ striking, I expected a similar game plan. However, Blaydes had something else up his sleeve on Saturday night.

While Daukaus was likely looking for the takedown attempt, Blaydes didn’t shoot once. Instead, he focused on using his long and straight punches to stifle the attack of Daukaus. Then, he dropped the hammer in the second round.

When both men came together to throw big shots, Blaydes landed first with a brutal right hand. Daukaus crumbled to the mat and Blaydes followed up with brutal elbows that caused a stop to the action giving him the TKO win at UFC Columbus.

What’s next after UFC Columbus?

This was a huge win for Blaydes and it goes a long ways with UFC fans. For years, Blaydes has been really good, but he hasn’t gained a ton of support due to his wrestling-first style. This is the kind of fight that Blaydes needed to get over with fans.

After the fight was over, there were a couple of names on the mind of Blaydes. At first, he called for an interim UFC title fight with Ciryl Gane. This is a fight that could happen, but Blaydes isn’t getting an interim title shot. Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic are ahead of him for that spot.

Speaking of Miocic, Blaydes also called out the former UFC champion. He said that he respected him, but he would love to fight him. Unfortunately for Blaydes, he might be on the outside looking in for both fights.

I think the promotion might give Gane to Tai Tuivasa and I think Stipe Miocic is likely fighting Jon Jones next. With that, Blaydes could fight Tom Aspinall next. Miocic isn’t happening, but I could see the UFC going with one of these three: Aspinall, Ciryl Gane, Tai Tuivasa.

Things are getting good in the heavyweight division.

New York Rangers acquire Maxim Letunov from the Carolina Hurricanes

New York Rangers President and General Manager Chris Drury announced today that the team has acquired forward Maxim Letunov from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Tarmo Reunanen.

The New York Rangers continue to fine-tune their team with the announcement that the club has tarded for Maxim Letunov from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for defenseman Tarmo Reunanen.

Letunov, 26,  a native of Moscow, Russia has skated in 60 games with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League (AHL) this season, registering a career-high 13 goals along with 10 assists and 23 points. Among Wolves skaters, he ranks seventh in goals and ninth in points. He has played in three career NHL games, registering a goal.

Prior to signing a professional contract, Letunov played three seasons with the University of Connecticut Huskies (Hockey East), collecting 95 points (35G-60A) in 105 games. In 2017-18, he was named to the Hockey East Second All-Star Team. After his freshman year in 2015-16, he was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team and Second All-Star Team.

Letunov was originally selected by the St. Louis Blues in the second round, 52nd overall, of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

He will not be eligible to play in the postseason this year as the trade occurred following the NHL trade deadline.

After a knockout loss at UFC Columbus, what’s next for Chris Daukaus?

Chris Daukaus, ufc

This past Saturday in the main event of UFC Columbus, we saw a showdown in the heavyweight division. Top contenders battled it out as Curtis “Razor” Blaydes (16-3, 1 NC) took on Chris Daukaus (12-4).

For Daukaus, he was coming off of his first loss in the UFC. He started out his career inside the octagon at 4-0 with four knockouts. He was gaining so much hype that the UFC gave him a main event slot against former two-time title challenger and knockout king Derrick Lewis.

Shockingly, Daukaus was the favorite entering that contest. Lewis made a statement that night and knocked Daukaus out in the first round. It was a tough loss for Daukaus, but he was ready to bounce back and the promotion gave him another top contender in Curtis Blaydes.

Conventional wisdom would say that if the main event at UFC Columbus stayed standing, Daukaus would win. However, Curtis Blaydes had other plans that would throw a wrench into that narrative.

Throughout the first round, Blaydes was doing a good job catching Daukaus coming in. Daukaus had his moments, but you could tell he was slower thinking about the takedown attempts. In the second round, Blaydes landed a brutal shot that ended the fight for Daukaus.

What’s next after UFC Columbus?

This was a really tough loss for Daukaus who has now lost two in a row after surging up the ranks in the UFC’s heavyweight division. After losing on Saturday, it’s clear that he needs to take a slight step back in terms of the competition.

Personally, I would love to see Daukaus slim down a little to make 205. I really think he would be a great addition to the light heavyweight division, but it doesn’t look like that’s in the cards for the heavyweight contender.

So, who should the UFC pair him with? Well, I think finding someone in a similar spot would be a good start. I’m thinking a fight with Augusto Sakai makes a ton of sense.

Like Daukaus, Sakai had started his UFC run unbeaten. However, he’s recently suffered three straight defeats and now he’s left with a lot of questions regarding what’s next. I think it’s time to put these two against each other and re-establish one of them.

After massive win at UFC Columbus, what’s next for Alexa Grasso?

In the co-main event of UFC Columbus, we saw a pivotal matchup in the women’s flyweight division. Top contenders went toe-to-toe as Alexa Grasso (14-3) took on Joanne Wood (15-8).

The fight was big for both fighters for different reasons. For JoJo Wood, he was trying to re-establish herself as a top contender after a recent rough stretch.

Meanwhile, Alexa Grasso was looking for her third straight win in the flyweight division which would vault her into the title picture. One of things definitely happened on Saturday night.

After a bit of a feeling out process, JoJo Wood was able to land a brutal spinning elbow. However, the elbow attack landed her right in a body lock and Grasso was able to take her down to the ground.

While known more for her striking, Grasso showed very slick skills on the ground. She was able to get to the back of Wood and locked up a rear-naked choke. Wood was forced to tap and Grasso got the big win at UFC Columbus.

What’s next after UFC Columbus?

This was such a huge win given the current landscape of the UFC’s flyweight division. Valentina Shevchenko has been so dominant and she’s faced many of the top contenders already.

The promotion has struggled to find fresh challengers and Grasso is a fresh challenger. This win immediately puts her in the conversation, but she’s likely one more win away from getting that title shot.

So, who should that fight be against. Well, the UFC has a couple of options and both of those options come out of the May 14th Fight Night.

On May 14th, there’s a pair of flyweight fights to watch out for. On that card, Viviane Araujo is taking on Andrea Lee and Amanda Ribas is fighting Katlyn Chookagian.

One of the winners should be next for Grasso. If Ribas beats Chookagian, I think Ribas would be the fight. However, if Chookagian wins, I would lean more towards the winner of Andrea Lee – Viviane Araujo.

In those situations, the UFC would be able to get a fresh challenger for Shevchenko and avoid the Chookagian rematch for now.

Giants’ co-owner John Mara rips former offenses, defends Daniel Jones

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants face an uphill battle with quarterback Daniel Jones. The reboot of the offensive line and his third offensive coordinator and head coach since being drafted back in 2019 mark an egregious sequence of events.

Last season, the Giants hosted the 30th ranked pass-blocking OL in football, but it was one of the worst groups they’d ever seen by most accounts. Over 11 games, Jones was sacked 22 times at a 5.7% rate, actually his lowest in his career after posting a 9.1% rate and 45 sacks back in 2020. Jones saw a decrease in sack percentage because the offense was running the football and settling for short route concepts rather than targeting downfield receivers.

Majority owner John Mara spoke to the media on Sunday, detailing the problematic position that Jones has faced over the years, trying to develop around lackluster schematics and porous playmakers.

“You tell me what quarterback could have thrived over these last couple years with what we had out there on offense?” Mara said. “I was in a health and safety committee meeting the other day and they showed our injuries over the last four years as compared with [other teams]. The last four years, we had more injuries than anybody in the league and a lot of ’em were on offense. So let’s give him a chance with a new staff and a better offensive line and we think he’ll be very successful.”

The Giants have been the most injured team in football since 2009. Some point to the training staff as a catalyst for that. The lack of execution and poor game management are also major variables. Jones sustained a concussion and neck injury last season, trying to elevate the offense and make something out of nothing. Running the football and diving headfirst into opponents is a recipe for disaster in the NFL. Jones found himself trying to overcompensate for a disturbingly bad protection scheme.

Despite the turnover concerns and decreasing overall production, management seems to have faith in Jones based on his decent arm talent and mobility.

“We still have a lot of confidence in Daniel and think he’s going to be a very good quarterback if we just put the right pieces around him and give him a little bit more continuity and stability,” Mara said. “He hasn’t had that since he’s been here. Let’s give him a chance to prove himself. He’s shown flashes of it, for sure.

With Jones’s 5th-year option coming due on May 2, the Giants don’t have much time to decide on his future. They can either lock him in for one more year guaranteed or slap him with the franchise tag or an extension if he dominates in 2022. Nonetheless, the odds are stacked against him once again, so the Giants should have the future in mind this upcoming draft.

Yankees Injury Update: Tough Ben Rortvedt injury news, but Kyle Higashioka is dominating

Ben Rortvedt, yankees

Despite the New York Yankees having reported interest in Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, it seems as if they will deploy a platoon with Kyle Higashioka and Ben Rortvedt this upcoming season. The Yankees acquired Rortvedt via trade with the Minnesota Twins, sending Gio Urshela and Gary Sanchez on their way in exchange for Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Josh Donaldson in addition.

Rortvedt has experience with new Yankees catching coach Tanner Swanson, providing a bit of familiarity and experience with his former protégé. However, Rortvedt has failed to make an offensive impact at the MLB level, but he hasn’t had much of an opportunity, playing in just 39 games last season in his first action at the top level.

At 24 years old, the Yankees see Rortvedt as a great defensive catcher who can complement Higashioka, who seems to have the starting job cemented at this point. The former Twins catcher is still dealing with an oblique injury that he sustained before the trade. His readiness for opening day is in question.

“I don’t want to rule it out, but also not really sure at this point,” Rortvedt said Sunday, via the NY Post. “Just trying to be smart about it moving forward so it doesn’t linger.”

The Yankees have been taking a cautious approach with him the past few weeks, which is necessary considering his work ethic and desire to continue growing.

“Honestly, knowing myself, it’s probably good they’re kind of holding me back or else I probably would have torn this thing a new one,” Rortvedt said. “It’s smarter.”

Ben suffered the injury swinging the bat, which has kept him from working on his offensive side, but he still participating in individual catching drills.

“I’m kind of a combination of I’m in pretty good shape but also I take care of myself from a flexibility standpoint,” Rortvedt said. “It was just a freak [injury] but also a workload thing I think. Just something to manage, watch my swings from now on. Honestly it was just coming in ultra-prepared and it happened. It was pretty annoying.”

In the meantime, Higashioka will be the starter on opening day, and he’s having a stellar spring over five games. Over 12 at-bats, Higashioka is hitting .500 with six hits and three homers, showcasing his underrated power.

Most of the Yankees’ top pitchers prefer Higashioka behind the plate, given his defensive qualities and the way he calls games. The Yankees can feel confident with him to start the year, but over a larger sample size, Higashioka hasn’t proven to be a consistent offensive weapon.

Yankees hope to ‘unlock’ the All-Star version of new signing

yankees, shelby miller

The New York Yankees announced on Sunday that they signed right-handed pitcher Shelby Miller to a minor league contract, with an invitation to spring training. For all his recent struggles and injury issues, he is still just 31 and may still have something left in the tank.

Miller was a strong Rookie of the Year candidate in 2013, when he posted a 3.06 ERA in 173.1 innings with the St. Louis Cardinals. He won 15 games and struck out nearly a batter per inning that year.

With the Atlanta Braves, Miller posted a 3.02 ERA in 205.1 innings in 2015, earning All-Star honors. After a trade to the Arizona Diamondbacks, however, his career fell apart, and he hasn’t been the same since Tommy John surgery in 2017.

From 2016 to 2021 (except for the 2020 season, which he skipped because of COVID-19 concerns) the former first-round pick has a 7.04 ERA with a 6-22 record in 61 games (195.2 innings).

The Yankees are rolling the dice

The Yankees know that Miller may or may not contribute: he is the definition of a dice roll, a lottery ticket. But if he hits, if he works with Sam Briend and Matt Blake and there is something to salvage, he could be another solid depth option for New York.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone took some time to talk about Miller after Sunday’s game. “He’s a guy that’s had success in the league,” the skipper said. “Hopefully we can unlock things that provide us with some upside and that potentially he’s had all along.”

The Yankees could use him in a variety of roles, but first, he will need to show he still has some zip in his right arm. He will have to impress just to make the 40-man roster.

“I saw him before the game in street clothes when he was finishing up his physical,” Boone said. “He looks great, so we’ll kind of see what we have.”

Giants ‘not shopping’ Saquon Barkley, but here’s why they should be

New York Giants, Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley

There is no question that New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley is one of the most polarizing players in the NFL when healthy, but there is a keyword mixed in there, “health.”

Barkley battled injury after a magnificent rookie season back in 2018 when he recorded over 2000 all-purpose yards and 15 touchdowns. Since then, he’s missed nearly an entire season due to a torn ACL and battled ankle injuries in 2019 and 2021.

Since Barkley was drafted, teams have refrained from taking running backs in the first round, which has proven to be a great strategy that plays into positional value and investing in high injury-probability skill players. One of the teams who ignored the strategy was the Kansas City Chiefs, who took Clyde Edwards-Helaire at the back end of the 1st. His value has been nothing short of disappointing, and he features on one of the best offenses in football.

The Giants are preparing to pay Barkley $7.2 million in guaranteed salary, a nice chunk of change they could use to sign their 2022 draft class or further bolster the offensive line. Having one of the worst past blocking and run blocking lines in football the last few years, having a back as talented as Barkley has become irrelevant. Even the quarterback position has stalled in growth and development because of poor protection.

However, when looking at Saquon and his value, there is almost no chance the Giants extend him on a big contract after the 2021 season. Even if Barkley dominates and proves, he’s one of the best players at his position, which is unlikely after three years of limiting injuries, investing big money at running back is considered malpractice.

If you look around the NFL, you can find teams that spend mid-round picks and second-rounders on RBs that provide significant value without torturing the team‘s cap space.

For example, Alvin Kamara, Jonathan Taylor, Aaron Jones, and even Elijah Mitchell, a sixth-round pick last year, have provided more value than Barkley over the past few seasons. The point is, when you have a competent scheme and blocking upfront, it is not necessary to have a bewildering talent at the position.

Interestingly, Giants’ majority owner John Mara stated that the team wasn’t “shopping Barkley,” according to Dan Duggan of The Athletic. Again, it seems as if Mara has too much say in decisions that shouldn’t be his after years of losing.

If the Giants were being realistic about the current state of the roster and the ongoing rebuild, Barkley doesn’t have a future with the team. Extracting any value from the former 2nd overall pick would be a good move.

Essentially, it would be a salary dump to recoup a bit of money this season to help improve the roster. However, new general manager Joe Schoen seems more likely to trade James Bradberry, one of the team’s most consistent players, to clear salary space for their 2022 draft class.