10 New York Jets “Opening Day” Memories

Baseball’s opening day has sadly gone by the wayside, but, hopefully, these New York Jets gems at least partially soothes the ache. 

Opening day festivities in baseball were, alas, not to be. America’s Pastime’s national holiday was given the worst kind of rain delay, indefinitely put on hold until the COVID-19 pandemic is controlled.

We here at ESM’s New York Jets department sympathize with our Yankee/Met brothers and sisters. To help with the baseball blues, we present the Jets’ finest “Opening Day”…or, in this case, Week 1, memories….

1960: Titanic Conquest

The New York Jets’ franchise wasn’t always one of doom and gloom. In fact, their tenure began on the highest of notes, crushing their new American Football League brethren, the Buffalo Bills, by a 27-3 final under their New York Titans moniker at the Polo Grounds.

Buffalo took an early 3-0 lead, but the Titans stormed back with 27 unanswered. Two scores came from the feet of quarterback Al Dorow, while Dick Jamieson found Art Powell for the first aerial score in team history. On defense, the Jets let up only 113 yards and just five combined completions between a pair of Buffalo throwers.

1991: Defensive Struggle, or Anything But

The defensive struggle is a dying art in today’s NFL, but the Jets have managed to come out on the right side of some good ones. One such tilt was their 1991 opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where both Ken O’Brien and Vinny Testaverde had trouble gaining traction. Pat Leahy was the Jets’ biggest contributor on the scoreboard, compiling 10 of the team’s 16 points on the afternoon. His boots, including the de facto game-winner in the penultimate minute, allowed Leahy to move up to sixth on the NFL’s all-time scoring list.

1994: The Bill Stops Here

By 1994, the Bills had been to four consecutive Super Bowls but came up short each time. Some felt a fifth time would finally be the charm, but the Jets hastened the decline of Buffalo at the onset of the 1994 season.

The Pete Carroll era began at Rich Stadium, where the Jets stunned the home crowd with a one-sided 23-3 victory. A pair of second-quarter rushing touchdowns from Richie Anderson and Johnny Johnson erased an early Buffalo lead, while Nick Lowry held off any resistance with three field goals. Jim Kelly was brought down four times on the afternoon, twice by Marvin Washington. The Jets had lost 12 of their prior 13 matchups with the mighty Bills, but the 1994 opener paved the way for a sweep, their first in the series since 1986.

1997: Neil the Power

The Jets were in desperate need of good vibes in August 1997. They had gone 4-28 in Rich Kotite’s disastrous two years at the helm and nursing a streak of eight seasons without a winning record. Former New York football hero Bill Parcells was brought in to drag the team out of dire straights. For at least one weekend, happy times were finally green again.

Visiting Seattle’s Kingdome, the Jets demolished the Seahawks in a 41-3 shellacking. The cause was led by Neil O’Donnell’s career day, as the costly veteran put up a career-high five touchdowns. Wayne Chrebet and Jeff Graham each earned a pair of that tally, while Kyle Brady added the outlier. Defensive, the Jets harassed Seattle tandem John Friesz and Warren Moon, allowing them only 168 yards on 17 completions combined.

2000: Oh, Groh Up

The Jets got the new century off to a good start, as the Jets battled their future single-season thrower Brett Favre in a thriller at Lambeau Field. Despite the defense’s best efforts in holding an injured Favre in check (14-of-34, 152 yards, one touchdown), the Green Bay Packers kept pace with the Jets, even holding a 16-13 lead in the latter stages of the fourth quarter.

After a Ryan Longwell field goal broke a 13-13 deadlock, the Jets got a major boost via a 61-yard connection between Testaverde and Dedric Ward that situated them three yards away from the end zone. It took three downs to pull off the final three, but Testaverde eventually found Curtis Martin for a three-yard score that gave the Jets what they needed. It the final touches on a 144-total yard, two-touchdown performance that got the 2000s rolling. Favre, true to form, nearly pulled off a gunslinging, game-winning drive, but a potential long touchdown pass to Bill Schroeder instead landed in the arms of New York cornerback Victor Green.

2002: Buffalo Thrills

The Jets opened the 2002 season against a familiar foe in unusual colors: Drew Bledsoe. Tom Brady’s emergence the year prior put Bledsoe in a Buffalo Bills uniform, and his first game was a back and forth thriller against the Jets. Buffalo jumped out to an early 10-0 lead, but the Jets moseyed on back into the game with Chad Morton’s 98-yard touchdown. Despite major problems in the run game (Travis Henry torched the Jets for 149 yards and three scores and Curtis Martin left the game with an injury), the Jets kept pace with Buffalo and took a 31-24 lead via a Wayne Chrebet touchdown pass. Bledsoe, however, forced overtime with a scoring strike to Eric Moulds with 26 seconds to go in regulation.

Morton’s special team heroics, however, created the shortest overtime in NFL history. The veteran returned needed only 14 seconds to go 96 yards, allowing the Jets to escape Orchard Park with a 37-31 win.

2009: Making His Mark

A star was born in 2009, but Lady Gaga was nowhere to be found.

That’s what the cover of the New York Daily News declared after Mark Sanchez earned a victory in his first start, completing 18-of-31 passes for 272 yards and a touchdown in Gang Green’s 24-7 win over the Houston Texans. His first touchdown pass was a 30-yard strike to Chansi Stuckey in the second quarter. Sanchez got the credit, but the defense might’ve been the real heroes at Reliant Stadium. Defenders held the Texans to 183 yards and 11 first downs in triumph, allowing no points as Houston’s only score came on a fumble return for a touchdown.

2011: That’s All, Folk

The 2011 campaign began on an emotional note, as the NFL’s opening weekend coincided with the 10th anniversary of September 11’s tragic events. Many prominent names who helped the country recover were in attendance, including first-responders from the NYPD and FDNY. Former US President George W. Bush helped oversee the opening coin flip.

On the field, the game situated the Ryan brothers, with Rex coaching the Jets and Rob manning the Cowboys’ defense. Dallas led 24-10 at the onset of the fourth quarter, but the Jets inched back into the game with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Sanchez to Plaxico Burress. The Jets failed to capitalize on a Tony Romo fumble forced by Mike Devito, but eventually tied the game when Isaiah Trufant took a punt blocked by Joe McKnight back for a score. Dallas’ would-be game-winning drive stalled when Darrelle Revis intercepted a pass intended for Dez Bryant. Former Cowboy Nick Folk put the finishing touches on a moving, booting a 50-yard field goal in the final minute to secure a 27-24 win.

2013: LD!

We’re used to seeing someone with the shortened name of “L. David” make bumbling mistakes on Sundays thanks to Curb Your Enthusiasm. This time, however, an HBO subscription wasn’t necessary.

Geno Smith’s Jets debut was a sloppy back-and-forth tilt with the Buccaneers. Smith managed the game well enough to earn the Jets a 15-14 lead in the latter stages of the fourth quarter. However, a 37-yard hookup between Josh Freeman and Vincent Jackson inside the two-minute warning situated the Buccaneers in Rian Lindell’s field goal range, putting them up 17-15 with 34 seconds to go. With 15 seconds to go and the Jets approaching midfield, Smith successfully scurried out of bounds to preserve what little time was left. However, he gained some assistance from Tampa linebacker Lavonte David, whose late hit on Smith earned the Jets 15 free yards. That allowed Folk to drill the winner from 48-yards out, giving New York an 18-17 win.

2018: Hey, Darnold!

Sam Darnold’s precise Jets debut drew the tired chorus of “same old Jets” at Ford Field. His first NFL play ended in a touchdown, albeit in the most horrifying way possible. An interception to Quandre Diggs went back 37 yards for an early Detroit Lions lead. Fortunately for the Jets, Darnold would make up for it with a 41-yard score to Robby Anderson, part of a back-and-forth barrage that situated the game at a 17-17 standstill early in the third quarter.

New York took over from there on out, causing ED-209 levels of damage to the Lions’ defense in the form of 31 unanswered points. Darnold contributed to the cause with the first part of the carnage, a 21-yard strike to Quincy Enunwa that gave the Jets the lead for good. Notably, Jamal Adams earned his first NFL interception, while Darron Lee took another Matthew Stafford miscue back 36 yards for a touchdown, one of two “receptions” for Lee on the evening.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Yankees: What could the Opening Day lineup look like without Judge, Stanton?

New York Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge

The New York Yankees haven’t even finished their Spring Training games and there are already several players on the shelf. Aaron Judge has been dealing with shoulder soreness and then had some tightness in his pectoral muscle and is day-to-day. Giancarlo Stanton suffered a Grade 1 calf strain and is also on day-to-day watch. It’s very possible that both these sluggers are not ready for Opening Day and replacements will be needed.

It’s no question that losing Judge and Stanton will hurt the lineup. However, the New York Yankees are lucky enough to have so much depth that it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Here’s what the Opening Day lineup could possibly look like without Stanton or Judge:

  1. DJ LeMahieu, 2B
  2. Gleyber Torres, SS
  3. Gio Ushela, 3B
  4. Gary Sanchez, C
  5. Miguel Andujar, DH
  6. Luke Voit, 1B
  7. Mike Tauchman, LF
  8. Clint Frazier, RF
  9. Brett Gardner, CF

Bench players: Kyle Higashioka, Mike Ford,  and Tyler Wade.

Even without Judge and Stanton, this lineup is still solid from top to bottom. The only concern that people have brought up about the Yankees lineup is being short on left-handed hitters. In that case, Mike Ford and Tyler Wade can provide left-handed-hitting depth from the bench.

Switch-hitting center fielder Aaron Hicks is also expected to return from his Tommy John surgery in June or July. His return is going to be big for the Yankees. A healthy Hicks back in the lineup will be able to take the load off Gardner’s shoulders and give more depth to the outfield.

I don’t think fans should be worried about Judge’s injury. It seems that it’s just some soreness that is coming from throwing and hitting and the Yankees training staff is being extra careful with their star right-fielder. It’s obvious that they don’t want a repeat of last season and are going to be extra conservative on when they decide to get him going at 100% again.

As for Stanton, I never really know what to think about him. It seemed that last year it was a slippery slope of injuries. I really hope we don’t see a repeat of last season since he is a big part of the lineup’s success. I think Stanton is going to find himself in a DH role this year. It’s almost too “dangerous” to have him out in right field as he’s more prone to injury out there. If the Yankees limit him to just hitting, it’s not as likely he finds himself hurt.

 

Three run first inning powers New York Yankees to Opening Day Win

It didn’t take very long for New York Yankees first baseman Luke Voit to prove haters wrong.

After back-to-back singles by Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, Voit cranked a low slider on a 3-1 count into Monument Park for the Yankees first three runs of the game and season, and it led them to a 7-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

That home run was Voit’s only official at-bat, he took walks in two other plate appearances and was also hit by a pitch. His hit-by-pitch actually resulted in an RBI, as the bases were loaded. Aaron Judge was the only Yankee with multiple hits, a single to right and an infield single. All Yankee batters besides leadoff hitter Brett Gardner had a hit, but Gardner did have a walk.

Greg Bird went 1-for-4 on the game, with three strikeouts and a home run into the Yankee bullpen. Miguel Andujar had a single to CF in the seventh and an RBI sacrifice fly early on. Andujar, however, did have a throwing error in the fourth inning.

A quality start for Tanaka:

Masahiro Tanaka got his 2019 season off to a good start, giving up six hits, two runs (one earned), and fired five strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings of work. Only throwing 83 pitches, the Yankees didn’t want to stretch it with him as the team doesn’t play again until Saturday.

Tanaka was throwing his slider and splitter well and for strikes. All five strikeouts were swinging, including him striking out the side in the second inning using mainly offspeed pitches. Most outs came from his slider or splitter, and he only threw a few curveballs all game.

Tanaka faced 22 batters and threw first-pitch strikes to 12 of them.

Ottavino showed out in his first game:

Adam Ottavino had no New York jitters. He came out to relieve Tanaka in the sixth inning with two outs to strike out Rio Ruiz, then came back for the seventh inning getting two more strikeouts and a lineout to Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop, who got a hit in his first game as a Yankee.

Zach Britton and Aroldis Chapman came in for the eighth and ninth innings, and each pitched scoreless innings despite both giving up a hit.

The two teams don’t play on Friday but will continue the series on Saturday at 1:05PM on YES Network, ESPN+, or FOX Sports Go. The probable starters for the game are Nate Karns and James Paxton.

 

New York Yankees First Base Position Battle is Decided, Greg Bird Wins the Job

New York Yankees, Greg Bird

New York Yankees skipper Aaron Boone announced that Greg Bird will get the start at first base for the team’s opening day game against the Baltimore Orioles. Luke Voit is still expected to DH on Thursday but won’t play the field. Voit is definitely the fan favorite, and fans now have questions about the move.

Greg Bird had a slightly better spring:

Both players hit the ball well this spring, but Bird’s stats were just a bit better. Bird hit .333 compared to .289 for Voit. Voit however did have more home runs (12) and RBI’s (four) compared to Bird (10 and three respectively). While the more seasoned fielder did have a higher OBP and slugging percentage than Voit, he also showed a new ability to hit to the opposite field.

But will the spring success continue up north for Bird? He hasn’t had much success in the big leagues in his career, only one really big moment in pinstripes. That, being his ALDS game three home run off of Andrew Miller in 2017. If he doesn’t hit well, it could be his last chance with the Yankees.

Both aren’t fast or have particularly good gloves:

Both Voit and Bird aren’t known for having a good glove or necessarily being a speed demon. In my opinion, Voit is definitely a better runner and hitter, but he lacks defensive advantage. They are both good enough to get by in comparison to other players at their position.

So no matter who they pick to play defense, it honestly may not matter. It comes down to offense with those two players, and Voit will likely bat higher in the lineup, even as high as fourth or fifth. I think that Voit’s success last year wasn’t a fluke and that they have found their first baseman of the future.

Game 1 Recap: New York Yankees at Blue Jays

What a great start to the season for the New York Yankees in 2018. The Yankees season got off to a bang. The Yankees beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-1.

W-Luis Severino (0.00) ERA

L-J.A. Happ (3.86) ERA

Offensive Recap:

Brett Gardner reached base on an E7 from former Yankee Curtis Granderson, and Giancarlo Stanton blasted an opposite field homer in his first at bat of the season.

The Yankees added two runs to their lead in the fifth when Stanton and Gary Sanchez hit back to back two out doubles.

[sc name=”NYY 5 posts”]

Brett Gardner then hit a solo homer in the sixth off of Blue Jay reliever Danny Barnes. The Yankees final run came on another Stanton homer in the eighth and this time he hit a solo one off of old Yankee Tyler Clippard.

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All in all the Yankees offense was fantastic today and the newest Bronx Bomber Giancarlo Stanton played a big role in the win. Aaron Judge also had a productive day hitting ahead of Stanton as he went 2-4 with a double and single. This was only a taste of what the Yankees offense will look like this season.

Pitching Recap

Luis Severino proved today that he is the Yankees ace. After facing some trouble in the first Severino struck out Kendrys Morales to strand two runners on base. Severino settled down and compiled a strong 5.2 innings pitched and only surrended one hit, a single to Granderson in the fourth.

Chad Green came into the game in relief of Severino in the sixth and struck out Granderson for his first strikeout of the year. Green came back out to pitch the seventh and retired the Blue Jays in order.

Betances came onto pitch the eighth and served up a solo homer to Kevin Pillar on the first pitch he threw. Betances settled down and retired the next three hitters. Chapman came on to pitch the ninth and retired the Blue Jays in order to seal the win for the Yankees and earn Aaron Boone’s first win as a manager.

Player of the Game

Without question Giancarlo Stanton is the Yankees player of the game for the Yankees. He had a tremendous debut and was the first Yankee to homer in his first at-bat as a Yankee since Aaron Judge in 2016.

3-5, 2 HR, 1 Double and 3 RBI

Didi’s Post-Game Tweet

Tomorrows Game

Yankees at Blue Jays

7:07 ET Rogers Centre

Tanaka (0.00) vs Sanchez (0.00)

New York Mets Series Preview: St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Mets (3/29-4/1)

Opening Day is finally upon us, after the treacherous winter weather, baseball is back. The New York Mets open up at Citi Field against the St. Louis Cardinals in a three game series to start the season. The St. Louis Cardinals come into town with the newly acquired Marcell Ozuna to go along with their core of Carlos Martinez and Yadier Molina.

Projected Starting Pitchers

(3/29, 1:10 PM) Carlos Martinez (0-0 -.–) vs. Noah Syndergaard (0-0 -.–)

(3/31, 1:10 PM) Michael Wacha (0-0, -.–) vs. Jacob deGrom (0-0 -.–)

(4/1, 1:10 PM) Luke Weaver (0-0, -.–) vs Steven Matz (0-0 -.–)

The New York Mets bring in a very talented team that has a very good mix of knowledgeable veterans and hungry young players. From Amed Rosario to Adrian Gonzalez, the focus for the Mets is simple, win the World Series. The team did not have a winning record in Spring Training but that does not translate to the regular season their confidence is high going into Opening Day.

The Cardinals also bring in a team similar to the Mets and the acquisition of Marcell Ozuna has put them in a position to compete with the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers in the strong National League Central. Their ace Carlos Martinez and young upstart outfielder, Tommy Pham, are just a couple of talented players this team possesses.

Both teams bring very talented pitchers to the table in these first three games of the year. It would be no surprise if all three of these games ended with a 3-2 score. Mets manager Mickey Callaway is pulling a page out of old Cardinals manager, Tony La Russa’s book. Callaway is opting to bat Syndergaard eighth and Rosario ninth to put two leadoff men in front Yoenis Cespedes.

Kevin Plawecki is also getting behind home plate over Travis d’Arnaud. This is not unfamiliar to have d’Arnaud on the bench. The same situation occurred last year with Rene Rivera getting the opening day nod. Syndergaard is not comfortable with throwing to d’Arnaud and Callaway feels Martinez is a good matchup for Plawecki.

Matchups to Look For

Jay Bruce has struggled against Martinez and Wacha going 5-47 (.106) in his career against the Cardinals two starters. Jacob deGrom has been terrific over his career during day games. He is 17-8 with a 1.99 ERA during the day.

Marcell Ozuna is no stranger to Citi Field and has shown he love to hit there. Ozuna has hit .310 with 17 RBIs in his career at Citi Field. Mets fans know way too well that Yadier Molina has torched over his career putting a .321 average up in 77 games against the Mets.

Interesting Stats

The Mets are 35-21 on Opening Day but oddly enough they are 1-3 in March Opening Days. The last time they won a March Opening Day was back in 1998, which was a 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Yadier Molina will make his 14th consecutive Opening Day start, which is the longest streak by any active player with one team. He will tie former New York Yankee catcher Bill Dickey and put himself one behind Ray Schalk for the most all-time.