Laney, Whitcomb rep New York Liberty at the WNBA All-Star Game

The New York Liberty were well-represented at the WNBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas, which saw the league’s brightest stars take down Team USA.

The resurgent New York Liberty were well-represented at the WNBA’s All-Star proceedings at Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas on Wednesday night.

Betnijah Laney partook in the winning efforts for the league’s victorious All-Star group, who earned a 93-85 win over the United States Olympic team bound for Tokyo. Laney, the Liberty’s leading scorer at the halfway mark, put up four points, two assists, and a rebound toward the triumph. Meanwhile, Sami Whitcomb put forth a very respectable effort in the WNBA MTN DEW 3-Point contest, earning 26 points through cashing in on the “money” balls worth extra points. It was Whitcomb’s first appearance in the contest, which was won by Allie Quigley of Chicago.

This marked the third time that the league staged a “Team USA vs. WNBA” format, though the first two were not officially considered All-Star Games. New York City hosted the original matchup in 2004 at Radio City Music Hall prior to the Summer Games in Athens, while Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Arena got the latter in 2010, a non-Olympic year. This marked the WNBA squad’s first win, as they were paced by 26 points in an MVP effort from Arike Ogunbowale of Dallas.

Laney mostly played the backup point guard role behind Courtney Vandersloot, earning nearly 17 minutes of game action. Wednesday marked Laney’s first career appearance in the WNBA All-Star Game. She’s working through her first season in New York after winning the Most Improved Player honor in last year’s bubbled season in Bradenton as a member of the Atlanta Dream.

The well-traveled Laney was particularly enthused by the chemistry she had with the rest of the WNBA squad, as she had worked with several of them in prior professional stops.

“I kind of knew everybody, considering I’ve bounced around quite a bit, so I’ve had experience playing alongside a lot of the people that I was playing with today,” Laney said with a smile. “It just felt like home, it felt it was it was really fun and I really enjoyed having the opportunity to play with them all again. I’m really glad that we came together and got the win tonight.

Laney was far from alone in representing the New York resurgence; teammates Reshanda Gray Michaela Onyenwere sat courtside with assistant coach Jacki Gemelos, whie Sabrina Ionescu watched with Kobe Bryant’s widow Vanessa and her mentor’s surviving daughters. Meanwhile, Rebecca Lobo called the game alongside Ryan Rocco for ESPN. Lobo, an original member of the Liberty, was also honored alongside other members of the 1996 United States women’s basketball contingent, whose gold medal trek from the Atlanta Games celebrates its 25th anniversary.

“I found (the experience) amazing, just for myself to just be here in this moment, you know, after everything,” Laney said after the game. “Then to have the support that I had from the team, from my family, and friends, it was just a really good experience.”

The Rutgers alumna was particularly happy to work with former collegiate and AAU teammate Kahleah Copper.

“It was really fun because this was the only level that we haven’t played on together,” Laney said of the Chicago representative. “To be able to have that opportunity out there today, you know, it was fun. I really enjoyed playing alongside her.”

Whitcomb had her time to shine at halftime, partaking in her first three-point competition. The WNBA’s leader in successful three-point attempts (56) was representing Mary’s Place, a Seattle-based non-profit that “provide(s) safe inclusive shelter and services that support women, children and families on their journey out of homelessness”. The winning shooter would receive $10,000 toward a charity of her choice.

Whitcomb’s work was immediately cut out of for her, as Connecticut’s Jonquel Jones immediately tallied 27 points in the opening round. But Whitcomb came tantalizingly close to passing her, giving a whole new definition to “Moneyball”. Whitcomb sank the money ball shot worth two points toward her tally, as well as one of the “Dew Zone” attempts worth three. With the top half of the four competitors set to advance to a final round, Whitcomb seemed well on her way, soundly beating former Seattle Storm teammate Jewell Loyd (18).

Alas, she was done in on the literal last shot, as Quigley sank her final money ball to tie Jones before winning the contest by a 28-24 margin, appropriately earning her third three-point trophy.

Team USA was paced by 17 points from Brittney Griner of Phoenix. They’ll remain in Las Vegas for further training, which includes exhibitions against Australia and Nigeria, before opening Olympic play on July 27 against the latter (12:40 a.m. ET/tape delay: 4:15 p.m. ET, USA). USA has been paired in a group with Nigeria, France, and host nation Japan.

Other Liberty representation in the Tokyo Games includes Rebecca Allen of Australia and international holdovers Marine Johannes (France) and Han Xu (China).

The Liberty return to action on August 15 against the Minnesota Lynx (7 p.m. ET, YES/Facebook).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Yankees: How many Yankees will be named to the All-Star Game?

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

It’s the time of the year that New York Yankees fans start to wonder if their favorite player will be a starter or named to the All-Star Game. The All-Star Game this year will be at Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, after being moved from Atlanta by MLB who disagreed with new laws it saw as lessening the ability of citizens from voting in federal elections. It was a controversial change, but it is what it is. Many thought that politics should not enter the baseball arena.

On June 3rd MLB opened the voting for your favorite player to be named to the All-Star game The voting will end on June 24th. Yesterday MLB gave an update of how the different players are doing.

Here are the official MLB rules.  The 2021 Google MLB All-Star Ballot will determine the eight (8) position players in the American League and the National League, and the one (1) designated hitter for the American League, who will start the 2021 MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard. Earlier this MLB season, each MLB Club nominated one (1) player for each infield position and three (3) for the outfield, and each American League Club nominated one (1) player for the designated hitter spot.

Voting will take place in two phases. The first phase will begin at 11:59 a.m. ET on June 3, 2021, and end at 3:59 p.m. ET on June 24, 2021. For fans voting on during the first phase, there is a limit of five (5) ballot submissions per single, valid email address during any twenty-four (24) hour period (with that twenty-four (24) hour period to begin tolling at the time of such fan’s first ballot submission; following the expiration of the initial twenty-four (24) period, the next twenty-four (24) hour period begins tolling at the time of such fan’s next ballot submission).

In the information released yesterday, it looks like Aaron Judge is the only New York Yankee to have a clear shot at playing in the All-Star Game. After him, DJ LeMahieu appears to be a long shot at this point due to his mediocre play this season. Judge presently ranks second in the outfield voting with 538, 448 votes. The Angels Mike Trout leads the pack with 706, 503. Buxton of the Twins is third. Considering that both Trout and Buxton are on the IL, Judge pretty much has a lock on being an All-Star.

However, being a top vote-getter doesn’t mean you will automatically be at Coors Field. There is another new hoop to jump through. After June 24th, the top three vote-getters at each position and the top nine outfielders will move on to a new four-day voting period to determine the starters among the finalists. Judge would have to go in the IL or dramatically fall off in performance to exit the top nine.

Here are where the other New York Yankees fall in the voting.

  • Catcher: Gary Sánchez ranks No. 7 in voting, ~25,000 behind No. 3, Martín Maldonado (Astros), and ~607,000 behind No. 1, Salvador Perez (Royals)
  • First base: Luke Voit ranks No. 9 in voting, ~86,000 behind No. 3, Yuli Gurriel (Astros), and ~813,000 behind No. 1, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays)
  • Third base: Gio Urshela ranks No. 6 in voting, ~91,000 behind No. 3, Alex Bregman (Astros), and ~348,000 behind No. 1, Rafael Devers (Red Sox)
  • Shortstop: Gleyber Torres ranks No. 7 in voting, ~99,000 behind No. 3, Tim Anderson (White Sox), and ~424,000 behind No. 1, Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox)
  • Designated hitter: Giancarlo Stanton ranks No. 6 in voting, ~61,000 behind No. 3, Yordan Álvarez (Astros), and ~444,000 behind No. 1, Shohei Ohtani (Angels)

If you want your favorite Yankee to be an All-Star you have to vote. On MLB platforms, you can submit up to five ballots per 24 hour period. Anotherwards is you vote at 9 am today you can vote four more times before 9 am tomorrow morning.  To vote go here.

MLB News: MLB officially cancels the 2020 All-Star festivities

New York Yankees fans will be deprived of the summer classic All-Star Game and Homerun derby as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.  The cancellation was assumed, but yesterday, MLB made it official in a statement they released. The festivities were scheduled for July 14th, but with the season starting on the 23rd and while wanting to get in as many games as possible in the short-season, MLB made the decision.

Major League Baseball announced today that the 2020 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, which was scheduled to be hosted by the Los Angeles Dodgers and the City of Los Angeles, is being cancelled.  With the Atlanta Braves already named as host of the 2021 All-Star Game in Atlanta, the Dodgers will host the next available Midsummer Classic in 2022.

Based on the health circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic that are beyond MLB’s control along with governmental directives prohibiting large gatherings, the league determined it is unable to conduct the All-Star Game and its week of surrounding fan activities this year.

MLB and the New York Yankees last hosted the All-Star game in 2008 the last year of the old Yankee Stadium. They also hosted the game in 1939, 1960, and 1977.  In the 2008 Homerun Derby, the Minnesota Twins Justin Morneau won two of the three rounds for the award.  However, that was overshadowed by Josh Hamilton’s incredible 28 dingers in the first round.

The All-Star game itself was historic as it went 15 innings with the American League finally wining it 4-3.  By the length of time, this was the longest MLB All-Star Game in history at four hours and 50 minutes. The game finally came to a conclusion at 1:38 the next morning.

The game was an exciting one for many reasons.  One was it was the last time the crowd got to see the ailing “Boss” George M. Steinbrenner that entered the Stadium to the surprise of Yankees fans in a golf cart with his family to bring out the game balls.  Greeting him near the pitcher’s mound was Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson and Goose Gossage, the Yankees’ four Hall of Famers who were on the field. Ford and Berra kissed Steinbrenner, and Jackson and Gossage hugged him. The elder Steinbrenner died in 2010.

Three New York Yankees Snubbed From The All-Star Game

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

Three New York Yankees stars were snubbed hard from the 2019 MLB All-Star Game in Cleveland, Ohio. What makes it even more interesting is that some players were replaced with ones that have had worse seasons thus far. Keep reading to find out who was snubbed.

Luke Voit

Out of all three players snubbed, Luke Voit was probably the least worthy of the all-star game, but still worthy enough.

In 293 at-bats, Voit is batting .280 with 17 home runs and 50 runs batted in. His OBP is at .393 and his OPS is at .901. 32 of his 82 hits have been for extra bases.

Voit has a .989 fielding percentage and has a 1.6 WAR.

Gleyber Torres

Gleyber Torres was probably the worst snub of all position players this year.

The 22 year old middle infielder is batting .295 with 19 home runs and 47 RBIs in 278 at-bats. He has a .361 OBP and a .911 OPS. Torres has 33 extra base hits.

The second year player has a .973 fielding percentage at second base and a .964 fielding percentage at shortstop. He has a 2.6 WAR on the season.

Adam Ottavino

Adam Ottavino not getting into the all-star game absolutely blows my mind.

The first year Yankee and NYC native is currently has a 2-2 record out of relief with a 1.49 ERA. He has 50 strikeouts in just 36 and 1/3 innings pitched.

Ottavino has a 1.294 WHIP and has a 1.8 WAR on the season, and has been dominating batters with his wipeout slider.

These three players not getting into the all-star game bothers me. The MLB should take away the silly rule of each team being required to have one player represented at the game, and just select the three most worthy players at each position and one DH. For pitchers, assemble your top five starters and top 10 relievers for a 40 man roster (39 in NL without DH).

That way, it would give the best players a better shot at getting in the all-star game.


New York Yankees: All-Star Game Voting Update

New York Yankees, Yankees, NYY, Luke Voit

The MLB released its second all-star game voting update, and several New York Yankees look to be in.

Gary Sanchez and Luke Voit lead the way at catcher and first base with 1.36 million and 696 thousand votes respectively. Both players are well deserving of starting spots with high production to the team off of home runs and extra base hits.

Middle infielders Gleyber Torres and DJ LeMahieu sit third in shortstop and second base voting. Torres has 565 thousand votes and LeMahieu has 739 thousand votes. Both players are hitting around .300 and have each flashed the leather out in the field.

At third base, Gio Urshela sits in second with just over 500 thousand votes. Urshela has cooled down a bit, but still hits around .300 and is responsible for huge hits along with LeMahieu.

So, since the top three at each infield position get in, the Yankees will have all their infield starters prior to Didi Gregorius’s return playing in the all-star game. The fans have some work to do though if all players will start.

In the outfield, Aaron Judge sits seventh and has a legitimate shot to get in despite playing just 20 games. Remember, more than three outfielders get in. Brett Gardner sits 12th and Aaron Hicks sits 16th.

At the DH spot, Stanton is in sixth and only has a shot if he goes on a tear after his return on Tuesday.

Plus, a number of Yankee pitchers should be in the game, too, like Aroldis Chapman, Tommy Kahnle, and Adam Ottavino.

The Yankees will certainly be well represented at the 2019 all-star game in Cleveland, Ohio.