Charlo Defends Title in Brooklyn And More To Come

Jermall Charlo made a statement Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and with his seventh round knockout over Dennis Hogan defending his WBC middleweight title for the second time. He is now in position is a division that is wide open.

credit,,PBC

The 29-year old from Houston, 30-0, 22 KO’s, became the middleweight champion in June when Canelo Alvavrez went up in weight and vacated the title. Saturday night he dominated the fight.

Charlo made it known after the knockout that he is ready for the challenge. Hogan went down two times in the fight and for the third time in his career. This was a challenge that Charlo accepted and one that Hogan took for the first time at 160.

It opens up the door for Charlo. Will it be Canelo Alvarez, who may decide to return to 160 after winning titles at 168 and light heavyweight? Or will it be a showdown with Danny Jacobs?

Jacobs, of Brooklyn could also be on the agenda. 

“The middleweight division is wide open,” said a smiling Charlo. “I’m going to enjoy this. I’m here to fight whoever. You have to make the right decisions and do it at the right time. That’s what it’s all about.”

Despite throwing far fewer punches, Charlo had the more effective and efficient attack. Charlo landed 86 of the 266 punches he threw (32%) while Hogan landed just 71 of the 418 punches he threw (17%). Despite Hogan landing on 61 power punches compared to 57 for Charlo, Hogan was unable to hurt Charlo, as the trademark power resulted in another highlight reel stoppage.

“We’ve been working on that (the uppercut). I try to take him out with every punch and we work hard for it.  He got up and he fought like a champion,” Charlo said.  

The PBC promoted fighter, credited trainer Ronnie Shields for this latest win.

“ Ronnie told me to cut him off,” Charlo said. “I just threw the shot and I made sure I threw it right on the money.”  Hogan, 28-3-1, the 34-year old from Ireland, fighting out of Australia, lost his second straight title fight after losing to junior middleweight champion Jaime Munguia in April.

But this was all about Charlo, billed as the future of boxing, He went into this fight with knowledge that Hogan was not going to go down easy. The Barclays Center has become his second home and a potential fight with Jacobs, something that could occur, would put his undefeated streak on the line.

Jacobs, the top rated middleweight, is  scheduled to fight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in a supposed title eliminator Saturday December 20th streaming live on the DAZN  Network from Phoenix Arizona. 

“I want the most explosive fights,” Charlo said.  “I want to put myself to the test. It’s all about the time.I got the WBC belt moved up from junior middle. Don’t let the politics and networks fool you, I’m here to fight.  Canelo. I’m taking the fights as they come.”

And they will come more often. He is the champion and depending on what Canelo Alvarez decides next, that could be a championship fight to anticipate in 2020.

Credit PBC

In the co-featured bout, Chris Eubank Jr.‘s (29-2, 22 KOs) long-awaited United States debut ended in frustrating fashion as his opponent, Matt Korobov (28-3-1, 14 KOs), suffered a bout-ending injury at just :34 of the second round. Because it was ruled a self-inflicted injury, the result was officially declared a TKO victory for Eubank, who picked up the Interim WBA Middleweight Title.

Korobov, a top contender in the middleweight division, injured his left shoulder after throwing a punch that failed to land. After consulting with the ringside doctor, it was deemed that he would be unable to continue.

“I felt like I was about to get my swagger on,” Eubank said. “He just turned around and stopped. I was going to go jump on him. I guess something happened with his shoulder. There’s nothing to take from the fight. I threw like three or four punches. I was just warming up.” 

Eubank, son of former two-time world champion Chris Eubanck Sr. said he was looking forward to challenge for the other titles in the division. 

“I’m the winner, I’m going to move forward and challenger for these belts,” said Eubank. “This wasn’t my dream.  My dream was to come here to America and make a statement. Now that I’ve landed and I settled with the new promotional team, I feel I can get the ball rolling for an active 2020.  It’s a shame it had to start like this, but it is what it is.”

This was the first of consecutive Saturday boxing shows in New York City, Next Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, Terence Crawford defends his WBO Welterweight title against Egidijus Kavaliauskas on the Top Rank card that will be televised on ESPN.

Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Quick and Easy Clean Eating

SAUTEED SHRIMP AND SPINACH

I understand how with our busy schedules and time restraints it’s so tempting and easy to stop for fast food. Please don’t do it! In the long run your body will thank you. With a little forethought and prepping you can make simple, healthy, quick meals at home. I can hear you tisking that’s the last thing you want to do after a long hard day. I do hear you … but it is possible. Just be sure to stock up on some healthy options to have ready in a pinch. I always have a bag of frozen Trader Joes wild Argentinian Red shrimp on hand for just that purpose. You can take some out in the morning to defrost in the fridge or for last minute leave in the bag and immerse in cool/tepid water to defrost.

I always try to take some time to prep and prepare food for the week. It’s easy to make some soup and freeze half for another time. Dice/chop up raw carrots, beets, celery,radishes, etc to top your salad. Roast a tray of veggies to have ready. Use your imagination roast broccoli, cauliflower, red onion, bell peppers, parsnips, sweet potato or any vegetable you enjoy. Rienzi brand Lentils in a can have no preservatives or added salt, a better choice than fast food. These are just some examples to make having healthier meals more manageable.

Neil Miller /The New York Extra

For this meal you will need fresh organic spinach 10 oz, organic garlic, 1/2 a medium lemon, 1 tsp olive oil, grass fed butter, organic orange peel, herbs de provence, lemon pepper and of course trader Joes wild Argentinian Red shrimp. 7-8 pieces for a portion.

Take a handful of rinsed drained spinach cook in pan on medium flame, turning and adding more as it begins to wilt. Cook about 4 minutes. Add 1 tsp olive oil and 1 clove of minced garlic, sautee 2 minutes then set aside. take rinsed defrosted shrimp, pat dry with a paper towel place in preheated pan with a pat of butter. Cook 3 minutes, turn over and cook additional 2 minutes. Then reduce heat squeeze 1/2 a lemon over shrimp into pan, add pat butter, orange peel, lemon pepper, herbs de provence, cook 1 minute. Serve a top spinach with a little salad and beets. Ready to eat in just under 15 minutes!

TIP OF THE DAY : I am loving my new Red Copper cookware frying pan!! It cooks evenly, browns, makes a fabulous omelette, little or no oil needed and cleans with just a wipe! Give it a try, follow directions to bake before first use [season] pan. Red Copper is my new go too!

FYI : Though shrimp is high in cholesterol it is low in saturated fats, has antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids which has been shown to promote heart health. There is new information out there please investigate.

The Fizdale Era Ends But the Dysfunction Continues

Robbins Nest

credit twitter

By Lenn Robbins

  So much for patience. So much for building from the ground up. So much for credibility.

The New York Knicks believability quotient ranks lower than a late-night ad for an anti-aging potion. There is no one – not the owner, not the president, not the GM – who can ever be given the benefit of the doubt. If their lips are moving, they are not telling the truth.

The most recent betrayal of the fans’ trust came Friday afternoon with the Knicks displaying their mastery of decades-long dysfunction. They fired coach David Fizdale after he ran practice. The team then jetted to Indianapolis although it might as well have flown to Planet Lovetron.

The Fizdale Era lasted a mere season and one quarter. When Mills and Perry hired Fizdale they stressed patience. The quick fix was done. They wanted assurances from Fizdale that understood the Knicks were building a new culture.

“I told them, ‘You don’t have to worry about me because I am in for the plan,’” Fizdale told Marc Stein last year. “The plan is we’re going after particular people who are trying to fit what we are trying to build. And if it doesn’t fall in line, then we don’t go down that road.”

That lasted 104 games.

The 4-17 Knicks are the NBA’s of version of 90 Day Fiancé’.

Certainly, Fizdale didn’t offer much cause for optimism that this marriage could turn. His record in New York was 21-83.

 After the team’s 44-point road loss to the Bucks on Monday night he said, “I think we didn’t come in with an idea we could beat this team from the beginning.” And he described Thursday night’s 37-point home loss to the Nuggets as “sickening.”

 Which might be how Knicks fans might feel about the way Mills and Perry have run this franchise. They bragged about their ability to attract top-tier free agents but got rejected by Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and never had a shot at trading for Anthony Davis.

With no shiny baubles interested in lighting up Broadway, they spent some $70 million in cap space on mid-tier players such as Bobby Portis, Marcus Morris, Taj Gibson and Julius Randle. What a waste.

It also completely torched the stated culture of developing young talent. Last year’s No.1 pick, Kevin Knox, has been anchored to the bench. Second-round pick Mitchell Robinson has been usurped by Gibson.

And this year’s top pick, small forward RJ Barrett, was played at shooting guard and occasionally at point guard, because hey, if that LeBron guy can go from power forward to point guard anyone can, right?

Barrett was hailed as the team’s new foundation leaving him to negotiate that awkward path while not alienating the Portises and Morrises of the world.

credit twitter

What’s most galling about all this is the way Fizdale’s firing went down. According to reports, Mills and Perry, knowing they were about to ax Fizdale, were seen kibitzing with their dead man walking coach after he addressed reporters following practice.

Let us repeat together: Keep your friends close and your smiling, back-stabbing enemies closer.

“Today marks a culture change for our organization where we reestablish the pride, work ethic and responsibility that comes with playing for the Knicks and representing New York,” read a statement from owner James Dolan when he hired Mills and Perry.

 “I’m confident that Steve is the right person to take on this role, and ensure that we return to one of the elite teams of the NBA. He’s got an ambitious plan that centers on building a young team focused on player development, communication and teamwork.”

One problem. The man quoted is a nightmare of a communication and has created a culture of paranoia.

 Fans can’t heckle him. Reporters can be harassed for criticizing him. Former players can be banned for expressing their anti-Dolan sentiments. Decent employees are fired by Dolan for reasons only he can fathom.

This reign of odious ownership has resulted in 12 coaching changes but just one playoff series win. Forget patience and credibility. The Knicks are the most toxic organization in the NBA.

Anyone who enters this planet’s orbit does so at his own peril.

Holiday Cheer At Citi Field As Mets Have Busy Day

from right to left ,Brandon Nimmo,wifr Chelsea Nimmo, and J.D. Davis Neil Miller /The New York Extra

Brandon Nimmo played Santa and J.D. Davis was the elf Tuesday at the Mets annual Kids Holiday party held at Citi Field in the Foxwoods Club. The event has become a highlight of the Mets community initiatives and kids from a nearby public school were greeted and took part in gift giving.

Neil Miller/The New York Extra
Neil Miller/The New York Extra

But that wasn’t the only business at Citi Field Tuesday. The Mets continue to prepare for the annual baseball Winter Meetings in San Diego that commence Sunday.

And  Sterling Partners, Fred and Jeff Wilpon ownership, is reportedly in negotiations to bring in billionaire Steve Cohen as a major investor.

In the long run. Cohen could have complete control of the franchise and the Wilpons could have less of a say in the everyday control of financial matters. Most Mets fans are hoping that there is a complete change in ownership and in the  meantime this is still a team owned by the Wilpons.  

Either way, it is business as usual. San Diego here they come. The Mets, from various sources do intend to be busy. The immediate need is finding that gap in the pitching rotation that became a reality with the Zack Wheeler five-year $100 million deal to the Phillies.

They could be in the market for a lower tier free agent to fill the gap, possibly Rick Porcello. There is the intention to revamp the bullpen and if Seth Lugo comes out of the pen to fill the gap, well a need for that starter is more of a necessity.

Then there is the intention for outfield help. The Mets will be shopping.  They could also look at Davis as a trade chip. Or they could find a suitable team for Dominc Smith.

Smith, as known, serves a better purpose as your everyday first baseman, of course, NL Rookie of The Year Pete Alonso has that locked up. 

Davis, could be slated as the everyday left fielder or play his natural position at third. 

Neil Miller/The New York Extra

“ I do feel a little more comfortable at third base,” Davis said Tuesday. “Because that was where I was drafted. Just being a third baseman and playing most of my games at third, I prefer that.”

Davis, though, will go with the plan. He will resume offseason training activities when he leaves New York Friday and returns to Elk Grove, California.

“If it’s left field, so be it,” he said. “ Wherever the team needs me, I know we’ve got a lot of talent on this team. So wherever the team needs me, I’ll play.”

And by all means, the Mets need to hesitate in any plans to trade Davis. He spent considerable more time in left than at third, and there was a learning process in the outfield. 

 Davis did become an important cog in the lineup with a slash line of .307/.369/.527 in the 140 games he appeared. He was the ace of player transactions under rookie GM Brodie Van Wagenen.

And with Davis in the lineup, along with Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Michael Conforto, the Mets have developed a good and young core.

Davis is going with the plan. He is optimistic that he will remain in New York as the Mets continue to build towards playing baseball in October.

“It was a little bit difficult coming from left field to third base because of 150 feet,” said Davis. “The ball gets on you a little quicker. But I play third base, just like anything, more reps over there I’ll be just fine.”

He added, “Just like anything, I’m comfortable. I’m confident over there and I’m excited.”

Neil Miller/The New York Extra

He said that Nimmo was a good Santa. And Nimmo, also a part of that young core is projected at this time to be starting in center.

“I’m working on controlling center field, until they tell me something,” he said. 

Nimmo is healthy and working on getting his neck stronger after missing most of his time in 2019 with a bulging disk.

“I think we’ll be good,” Davis said. The offense, we are a pretty tight group.”

Nimmo and Davis played their roles to perfection for the kids. Now they hope that role can lead to playoff baseball on the field in 2020.

Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso.

Rock and Roll , Kevin Sheehan style by Neil Miller /The New York Extra

Why Kevin Sheehan has the pulse of Long Islands Rock clubs.

Neil Miller/The New York Extra

A few weeks ago, I reached out to Kevin Sheehan about doing an article of the 4 bars he now owns in South Eastern Nassau and Amityville . KJ Farrell’s, in Bellmore, has been a go to place in Nassau County for the best cover bands for years. Sure,there were other places around, but KJs was always busy.

With the addition of the much larger, The Warehouse, with in the past year,Kevin added an important piece in the local music scene.Not content to have just the status quo, he added a county night, and a Latin night, for variety.

The new The Local Tavern in Levittown is a neighborhood bar, which is home base for a lot of people. Laid back and a little smaller than the other bars, Kevin says, “It’s relaxed vibe,large craft beer selection and friendly staff makes it a neighborhood place to go”

Kevin’s newest bar in Massapequa Park will be called Prohibition. The music format hasn’t been decided on as of now, but Kevin says,”We are very excited to be apart of the dining and bar scene in Massapequa Park .We hope by offering area residents a different experience,they will stop in and visit”

One things for sure, where ever you go on the South Shore, Kevin’ s bars offer a lot of different choices for the club goer to enjoy every day.

PS! Don’t forget! East on Main,,,,,,,,,,,Kevin is affiliated with this restaurant on The North Fork in Mattituck .When you are doing a winery crawl stop in for some good eats!

The Knicks Phenomenon: If You Don't Build It, They Will Come

Robbins Nest

credit twitter

By Lenn Robbins

  The wait has gone unrewarded.

  After Monday night’s utterly humiliating beat down at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks, it seemed that Knicks management had to offer up some thoughts as to what has become of this season where this franchise headed.

  But as they say in a Grade B horror movie, “It’s quiet, too quiet,” on Seventh Avenue. We heard nothing from owner Charles Dolan, or team president Steve Mills, or GM Scott Perry in the wake of a 132-88 loss to Milwaukee.  The words that kept resounding where those of coach David Fizdale, who offered this soul less take.

“Personally, I think we didn’t come in with an idea we could beat this team from the beginning,’’ said Fizdale, who threw himself under the bus with that statement. How did he allow a culture in which a professional basketball team went into a game not believing it can win?

 “That’s what was most disappointing,” continued Fizdale, who threw his veterans under the same bus. “They got whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. We never took a real stand.’’

So, there is no leader in the locker room that was able to implore his teammates to “Man Up!”  Not one veteran, Bobby Portis, who in fairness, has never known what consistent success looks like in the NBA having played for the Bulls, and not Marcus Morris, who has his MA in winning culture having spent the last three seasons in Boston, took a stand.

This 132-88 score looks like something you see in college basketball when the UConn women schedule Dayton and wins 75-37 as was the case earlier this season. This, however, is the NBA. The minimal expectation is that a team will come to compete.

“I felt the [lack of] morale at the beginning of the game,’’ Randle said about the Knicks pregame locker room. “A lack of energy. Our spirit has to be everything.’’

It wasn’t there from the opening tip. The Knicks fell behind 33-15 in the first quarter. They never challenged, which could be the story of the season. They’re 4-17, the worst 21-game start of any season.

   The Bucks are the more talented team, no doubt, led by the breathtaking Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Knicks have yet to find such a player. Kristaps Porzingis will forever be a benign unicorn, piling up impressive stats only to find camouflage when he’s muscled up.

The Bucks also hired a proven coach in Mike Budenholzer. Fizdale came with a lot of questions about his unsightly divorce in Memphis

 The failure of New York to bring these talents to the World’s Greatest Arena, falls on Mills and Perry, who a few weeks ago seemed ready to fire Fizdale. That would be the easy out. But there’s no guarantee the Knicks, over the long haul, would play and harder or better.

Which begs the question: Why would a Knicks fan watch one more game, buy one more overpriced beer in The Garden, gift an RJ Barrett jersey to a son or daughter over the holidays? I have friends around the country who are baffled by this Knicks Phenomenon.

 ‘Why does The Garden continue to sell out when the Knicks are awful?”  There is no sane explanation. Nor is there’s any motivation for the owner to demand excellence when, with the exception of some home playoff games, he wouldn’t make any more money.

If it’s broke and profitable, why fix it?

The Knicks have a coach that can’t impart confidence to his team. The team has no clear-cut leader. The president and GM lurk off stage, waiting for a scapegoat to come along. The owner plays a decent guitar but can’t put the pieces in place for a decent team.

Fisdale saved his most enlightening comment about the Knicks when as about Giannis.

“I watch and listen to him lead his guys,” Fizdale said. “He’s just impressive. The league is in good hands, I know that, when you’ve got a guy like that at the top.”

Can anyone honestly say that about the Knicks?

Heron Becoming That Impact Player on Court For St. John's

#0 Mustafa Heron Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Mustapha Heron scored 18 points Saturday at Carnesecca Arena. The St. John’s senior  guard was impressive as he scored a game-high in 16 minutes, 7-for-11 shooting, 3-for-6 from the line.

The Johnnies won their second straight and ran their early season record to 6-2 with their 86-63 win over Wagner. He also hit 3-for-6 from three-point range.

#0 Mustafa Heron blocks a shot in the Johnies last game against Wagner Neil Miller/The New York Extra

And if this type of effort continues, averaging 14.8 points per game, it could be something to anticipate before St, John’s begins Big East Conference play.  Heron is taking control and not bypassing a fact that St. John’s is playing good and winning basketball.  

Mike Anderson Neil miller/The New York Extra

“Those shots he was making, I thought it opened up the floor for our guys and we were able to attack early on and kind of set the stage,” said coach Mike Anderson. 

Point to this win, St John’s outscored Wagner, 29-3, in those important fast breaks on the court. You can get the idea here, Mustafa Heron is a major part of the scoring and  there are indications to be more double figure scoring in the box score. 

The  issues of staying on the court and avoiding foul trouble is a work in progress.   

“I thought I was just moving,” Heron said. “I thought I was moving a little better and took some good shots. It wasn’t anything spectacular. I just moved and took some good shots.”

But those good shots have been coming, even with the foul problems that kept him off the court in this latest win for St. John’s.  He scored a season-high 30 points last month as the Johnnies had an easy 87-57 win over Central Connecticut State.

So, when Heron gets the ball, and if Anderson has his team on the run, there could be more games of scoring 30 or more.  Of course, conference play opens up a different perspective as the opponents are that much tougher.

After that 30-point effort, Anderson said about his senior “He put the time in. He’s one of those guys who’s determined. I’m sure he’s got goals, and the best thing about it is that his major goal right now is St. John’s being the best team it can be.”

Heron watches the film and sees what can get better. That worked after not being satisfied with his previous game of scoring six points against UMASS and playing time of 16 minutes.

“I think every night it is important that I perform or the team is not going to be successful.” he said. “We pride ourselves on our depth and that we can go to the last guy on our bench and he can give just as much as a starter.”

St. John’s continues their five-game homestand with St. Peter’s Tuesday evening in another non-conference game. Heron will be on the court but he knows this is a team game and not just about him.

“Coach preaches that it could be anybody’s night on any given night,” he said. “That’s what we live by.”


Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Everything the Giants Do Must Be the in QB's Best Interests

Robbins Nest

#8 Dan Jones file photo Neil Miller /The New York Extra

By Lenn Robbins

  You know things have hit bedrock bottom when most social media posts and articles about the Giants’ latest meltdown don’t mention the franchise quarterback. Who knows. Maybe that’s a good thing.

Daniel Jones did what rookie quarterbacks usually do, but something he hasn’t done in a while. He threw interceptions in Sunday’s 31-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

. #8 Dan Jones Neil Miller /The New York Extra

 It was the Giants (2-10) seventh straight loss and in-house critic Janoris Jenkins should be applauded for pointing out shortcomings in the defensive scheme.  Coach Pat Shurmur’s seat is so hot he might have been the only person in MetLife Stadium who didn’t feel cold.

New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur file photo Neil Miller /The New York Extra

One of the few players that must be made to feel comfy is Jones. He has shown more than enough to believe he has the skill, temperament and intelligence for Giants fans to feel comfortable they have their quarterback of the future.

His development, however, might be hampered by two factors: The organization for which he plays and the mistakes that he makes.

The loss to the Packers was the first time in three games he did not fumble. It also marked the end of his 110-straight pass attempts without a pick ended.

“Today, they weren’t fumbles, right?,” Shurmur told reporters. “These were throws, they weren’t fumbles. He’s gotta keep playing through it, and keep learning from every scenario. Unfortunately, we’re dealing with some mistakes that you hope you never see it again.”

The Giants thought they had addressed this weeks ago. Offensive coordinator and other assistant coaches have worked with Jones on ball security. There is no magic wand. Either a player learns to protect the ball or he’s out of the league.

The feeling here is that Jones will get it but in the meantime, he’s leaving the door of self-doubt open. He now has thrown eight interceptions and lost six fumbles. Those stats to a quarterback are like rust to iron.

“I feel like I’m making progress,” Jones said. “Obviously there’s still a lot to work on, and I understand that. I feel like I’m improving and the challenge is to continue to do that but do it faster, and play more consistently.”

Consistency has hardly been a Giants trademark of late. It stretches the management to think the Giants would be better off with another season under Shurmur. If a change is made, Jones will face another obstacle – learning an entire new system and staff.

The Giants have to conduct business with one thought in mind: What’s best for Daniel Jones?

Freeport High School wins Long Island Class 1 Championship by Neil Miller The New York Extra

Freeport High School football team celebrates its win over William Floyd High School for the Class 1 Championship Neil Miller /The New York Extra

Freeport High School once again has won a Class 1 football championship in 42-14 defeat of William Floyd .It was a fairly tight game until the 4th quarter.Freeport lead by only 7 points going into the final frame but pulled away with 21 points in the final quarter.

#2 Jayvian Allen runs in the 2nd half Neil Miler/The New York Extra
#5 Jinks ,left and #2 Allen celebrate a touch down in the 2nd half Neil Miller/The New York Extra

#5 Makhai Jinks scored on five touchdowns during the game with Jayian Allen adding on another td in the 4th quarter as well. Quarterback Terrace Edmond played pretty of a ground game given the abilities of Jinks running .

The Freeport defense was key in several take aways the lead to their victory.

The Grinch that stole Christmas

Or how the Town of Islip disappointed hundreds of Town residents at The Connetquot River Boat Parade

Tonight, hundreds of Town of Islip residents and families were very upset and confused at the annual Boat Parade at Great River Dock in East Islip. For years a parade of brightly lit boats in all their Christmas glory would make several passes up and down the river.

But,not tonite.Instead the boats seemed to congregate by the various restaurants further south on the river.Crying children and angry parents kept asking” Where is the parade? Why are they turning around before coming up to the dock?” FYI ,Great River Dock is one of the listed viewing sites for the Boat Parade. Upon looking at the contributor list to the event,The View ,Snapper Inn,and Oakdale Yacht are listed as top level donors.Is it posible this this played a role in spoiling alot of families fun tonight?? Only the Town of Islip knows.

Mets And Yankees Preparing For Winter Meetings and Their Needs

One week from tomorrow the baseball world will convene in San Diego for the annual Winter Meetings. The agenda at these meetings have become more business dealings for Major League Baseball and the trade market has shown minimal activity.

Regardless, the process to restructure for teams begins at these meetings as general managers and executives huddle in their suites. Rumors do become a spectacle as this has also become a media event.

So don’t expect anything significant to transpire with the exception of rule changes for the game and other business issues. There will be a transaction or two, and the stepping stones to more significant trades or free agent signings taking place when the meetings conclude.

Giancarlo Stanton #27 file photo Neil Miller/The New York Extra

The Yankees will be looking for additions to their bullpen and possibly seeking a player or two. GM Brian Cashman always comes out of these meetings with a missing piece, Giancarlo Stanton in 2017, though that signing has not paid dividends.

file photo Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Didi Gregorius, depending on what route he goes, well that obviously causes Cashman to go hunting for infield help.  Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Zack Wheeler? Cashman may be in pursuit of one of the prime pitchers on the free agent market.

Again, all speculation as to where this goes.

The Mets, they need to be active. Carlos Beltran, a first year manager, inherits a team that won 86 games this past season. They are close to going that extra step and need those pieces to make it happen.

As expected, Wheeler is on the market. The Mets are not ruling out his return to keep a rotation in tact with Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marucs Stroman and Steven Matz. 

No surprise here as a high ranking NL official said  to yours truly, “Teams with a strong and deep starting pitching staff will ultimately win. We see this with the Dodgers, Nationals, Astros, Cardinals, Braves, and Indians.”

The Mets won with a rotation in 2015, not so long ago.  That included a forgotten Matt Harvey and 27 strikeouts in the postseason, which by the way, is a top five club record.

 Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen, should expect Wheeler to be elsewhere and that causes a void. Either Robert Gsellman or Seth Lugo come out of the bullpen and fill the rotation spot. Or the Mets shop for a lower level free agent on the market.

But the bullpen needs a total revamp. Taking Lugo or Gsellman out of the pen causes another void. There is confidence Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia will turn things around. Justin Wilson, except for a limited time on the injured list, overall was proficient as the lefthander out of the pen.

Jeurys Familia #27 file photo Nil Miller/The New York Extra

So there will be decisions and some shopping for help out of the pen.  Take into consideration a Mets bullpen blew over 20 saves in 2019, and in the late innings.  Win those games, perhaps, that was the difference as to why the Mets were not one the NL wild card teams.

New York Mets left fielder Yoenis Cespedes #52 file photo Neil Miller/The New York Extra

And there is that possibility, from all reports, Yoenis Cespedes will be seen again. The Mets are looking to get him back on the field and be in that outfield mix that is minus Juan Lagares. 

Van Wagenen, has not ruled out a trade for an outfielder. Michael Conforto and  inconsistency has been an issue in the lineup. The Mets are rumored to be interested in signing a free agent, Starling Marte, and that could be something to keep an eye on in San Diego.

And then there is the business of baseball. The Mets seem to go along those lines in their process of decision making as they move towards 2020.

That same NL official said, “We see that clubs are resistant to signing older free agent players to long term contracts. Teams are cognizant of the declining value of that older player who then becomes an albatross in the latter stages of a majority of those contracts.

The Yankees have seen this and basically have gone away from signing players long term, the exception was that trade for Stanton in a financial deal with the Marlins.

But the Mets, a team that is criticized for not signing the free agent, they have been burned in the past. Yoenis Cespedes, though a boost in 2015, re-signed and that lucrative deal has not been to their advantage with a player that is prone to injuries.

So the Mets will be the active team in San Diego, maybe not a headline player or two, but stepping stones to get where they want to be in October.

Stay tuned for the next few weeks before the holidays kick in. It all starts in San Diego a week from Sunday for the Mets, Yankees, and 28 other teams who look to improve.

Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

CHRISTMAS AT MILLERIDGE INN

Toni Hoyos/The New York Extra

The 2019 holiday season begins at the iconic Milleridge Inn Village starting with the annual Christmas tree lighting on Friday November 29. Thousands came to see the event and partake in the festivities which included carolers, a Santa village and of course the Grinch! The village is beautifully decorated with lights, garland, wreaths, snowmen, trees, holiday characters, a nativity display and so much more!

Toni Hoyos/The New York Extra

There was a fun area where you and your friends could take a picture with Santa or stop at the Cafe to grab some cider or hot chocolate. The stores were busy with shoppers and those just browsing. Surely a good time was had by all! Stop by to see the village in all its Christmas glory and check out up coming events.

Penny Wise, Schiano Foolish: Time For Rutgers to Invest in its Future

By Lenn Robbins

If you’re not familiar with how big-time college football works – and man, is it big business – Greg Schiano’s “list of demands” to return to coach Rutgers reads like a portrait in greed:

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A reported $25.2 million guarantee? The unlimited use of a private jet?

What is this, a new reality show, “Desperate Football Coaches of New Jersey?”

Not at all. This is the cost of doing business in a Power 5 conference, such as the Big 10.

In fact, if Rutgers had agreed to these “demands” about a week ago, it would have gotten Schiano on the cheap. His eight-year, $32 million deal would have put Schiano in the bottom third of Big Ten coach’s salaries. Rutgers drew a line in the sand at six years, $24 million – keep that $8 million in mind.

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That’s right, bottom third.

But AD Patrick Hobbs, who already screwed up his search for a men’s basketball coach, but was fortunate to find former Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell, has been publicly and privately taking a flamethrower to the Schiano negotiation. Hobbs’ hiring of former coach Chris Ash (8-32), who was fired earlier this season, had failure written all over it from Day 1. He MUST make a great hire now.

Some might know that I’ve known Schiano for some 20 years and have a close, respectful relationship. I’ve had had no contact of any kind with Schiano, his family and his representatives since Sept. 30th.

As a long-time college football reporter, it’s been awful not having a successful big-time program in the metropolitan area. Despite Syracuse’s bogus claim of being New York’s college team, it still requires a four-hour drive, often with the help of a snow plow. Not very metropolitan.

There’s no better place to watch college football, and no program more steeped in tradition than Army. But the days of Army playing for a national title are over, and there’s no shame in that. Army has always had a higher calling.

Rutgers (2-9), which plays its final game of the season tomorrow at Penn State (9-2), joined the ranks of the Big Ten in 2014. It joined in name only.

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Its facilities are worse than some FCS programs. Its stadium, something named SHI Stadium, is not even on the list of the 50 best venues in America, according to Bleacher Report and anyone with eyes.

Penn State’s Beaver Stadium (106,572) is ranked No.1 Ohio State’s Ohio Stadium (102,821) is ranked third and Michigan Stadium (107,601), aka, The Big House, is ranked sixth. From Northwestern to Nebraska, Maryland to Michigan, Big Ten football, as its advertising campaign states, is life on the big stage.

Rutgers has tried to survive in the Big Ten on the cheap. Ash won three conference games in three-plus seasons. It’s not all his fault. It’s almost impossible to out-recruit schools with lesser facilities, not to mention far less tradition.

Michigan and Ohio State have set up satellite practice camps in New Jersey for the explicit reason of luring The Garden State’s top recruits. The only coach that has ever won his share of New Jersey recruits is Schiano.

There’s a reason for this: He’s a Jersey Guy. He understands the ethos of the state; how North Jersey and South Jersey have always had an uneasy relationship. The last thing the Rutgers coach can do is alienate either. Schiano did a great job of embracing both.

With Schiano, Rutgers reached its highest ranking ever in 2006 at No.7. It took him six years to build the program. And that was when Rutgers played in the Big East.

The next Rutgers coach will have an even more daunting challenge in the Big Ten. Jim Harbaugh, maybe the closest comparison we can make to Schiano, returned to his alma mater in 2015 with great fanfare. By 2017, after the Wolverines posted an 8-4 record, there were some screaming for change.

Most didn’t realize how drastically Michigan had fallen behind Ohio State, or been caught by programs such as Wisconsin and Iowa. Harbaugh, who is paid $7.5 million, will try to beat Ohio State tomorrow for the first time in his tenure. If he fails, no doubt there were will be ignorant calls for his firing.

While Ohio State was building its program with an influx of recruits and an increase in fundraising under the consistency of six coaches from 1951-2019, Michigan is on its fifth coach since 1989.

 Michigan’s administration has made what could prove to be brilliant decision. It believes Harbaugh is the man for the program and it’s providing him with the support and patience he needs to catch Ohio State. Michigan recently opened the $168-million Performance Center with a $100 million gift from Stephen Ross.

$100 million.

Rutgers balked at the $8 million difference between its offer and Schiano’s “demand.” Perks such as private planes (Wyoming has one, Wyoming!) and golf course membership is standard at Power 5 programs. It helps in recruiting and fundraising. It’s the cost of doing business in the Big Ten.

Over the last couple of days there have been reports that Rutgers and Schiano have re-engaged in talks. If Rutgers ever wants its best chance at becoming a winning big-time program, it will bring The Jersey Guy home. If not, Rutgers should withdraw from the Big Ten and call Mike Aresco at the American Athletic Conference.

The moment has come for Rutgers to state its intentions: Big Ten or Big Bust.

NYCFC Signs Academy Player From The Bronx To Roster

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Transition time continues for NYCFC before the start of their 2020 season. With a new coach set to be announced for the departed Domenec Torrent, New York City FC on Tuesday announced that Homegrown defender Tayvon Gray has signed his first professional contract with the Club becoming the first Bronx native to sign with NYCFC. 

It’s a homecoming for Gray and he will take his talents close to home. NYCFC home games are played at Yankee Stadium

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Gray said: “I’m very excited to sign with New York City FC. I’m a Bronx kid and this is my hometown team, so to start my professional career in New York City is a dream come true.

“When I first heard about NYCFC, the team was very new, but once I saw what the Club was all about, I definitely wanted to play for them. I’ll be proud to represent my team in the Bronx. My family is still here, so it will be very exciting to have them at games.

The 17-year-old and U.S. youth international is NYCFC’s fourth player to graduate from the Academy ranks, joining James Sands, Joe Scally and Justin Haak.

“There are too many people to thank. I’d like to thank God, my family for the support and love to help me get to this point, and everyone in the Academy staff. I’ve learned from some incredible coaches and played with some great teammates over the years and I wouldn’t have been able to get here without them.”

 NYCFC Sporting Director David Lee said: “Tayvon’s been in our Academy for the past few years and has really developed over the last 18 months and we couldn’t be more excited for him to join our First Team and be with us for the future   Signing the contract is the first step for him to continue his development. He has a lot of potential and can play a number of positions.”  

This past season, NYCFC finished as the top seed in the MLS Eastern Conference and lost in the conference finals to Toronto at Yankee Stadium. 

“We’ve seen him as a future Homegrown player for a while and we’re really delighted to complete the signing,” said Lee.

Gray has been a centerpiece of the NYCFC Academy since joining the Club in 2017 with the U-17s. In 2019, he anchored the backline on the U-19 team who became the first Club to win back-to-back U-19 U.S. Development Academy National Championships. 

NYCFC Academy Director Sam Pugsley said: “Tayvon’s pathway to professional soccer is a great success story. He started in the talent centers that we run and after performing well, he came into the Academy, and coming from the Bronx, it’s extra special.

“Over the years, with Rodrigo Marion and Matt Pilkington’s coaching, guidance and leadership on the field day-to-day, he really matured and got to the point he’s at today.

“Tayvon has been an integral part of what we’ve built here and the success we’ve had on the field. He’s a great person and you see his joy when he’s on the field and how much he enjoys playing soccer.” 

Gray was one of five Academy players to join the Club’s 2019 preseason in Abu Dhabi and continued to train with the First Team regularly throughout the season. 

Recently, Gray started two matches for the United States U-17 National Team at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil.

Gray will join the First Team full-time when the Club opens preseason on January 11.

The defender said: “Since I began with the Academy, my goal was to one day make it to the First Team. I’ve been able to train and go on preseason with them before, but to now sign a professional contract is an amazing feeling. I’m ready to work as hard as I can to help this team achieve what we all want, to win MLS Cup.”

 Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

QUEST FOR HEALTHY ALTERNATIVES

Sweet Potato casserole and Homemade Applesauce

Neil Miller /The New York Extra

Thanksgiving is such a festive time with friends, family and of course food! I like to lighten up traditional recipes and omit as much added sugar as possible keeping it simple and tasty. Lets start with the sweet potato casserole. You will need; 4 med/large organic sweet potatoes, organic unsweetened butter, ceylon cinnamon, 1/2 cup toasted pecans, organic coconut oil [or more butter] Swerve brown sugar replacement and a clementine or orange. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Peel potatoes then slice on a diagonal about 1/2 inch thick. Place a few thin pats of butter on bottom of a casserole dish. Add a layer of sweet potatoes to dish, sprinkle with cinnamon, top with a few more pats of butter then continue to layer in this manner until done. If desired squeeze the juice of 1 clementine or 1/2 an orange over top of casserole then sprinkle with cinnamon and add more butter. Bake covered approximately 40/45 minutes until soft not mushy, testing doneness at 30 minutes.

NeilMiller /The New York Extra
Neil Miller/The New York Extra

While casserole cooks dry pan roast pecans on medium/low heat a few minutes, stir and careful don’t burn. When ready let cool a couple minutes then add to a food processor with 2 teaspoons Swerve brown sugar, 1 teaspoon organic coconut oil or if you prefer use 1 teaspoon of butter. Pulse until they look like small chopped pieces. Add chopped pecans to top of sweet potato casserole bake an additional 5 minutes uncovered.

Neil Miller/The New York Extra

APPLESAUCE; 6-8 large Gala apples and cinnamon. Core apples, place in a microwave safe pan [apples will throw off liquid] and microwave for approximately 10-12 minutes or until soft but not mushy unless you like it that way. I prefer it to be a little chunky. Once done cut in half and let cool to the touch. Run thumb over flesh feeling for any core remnants and remove. Scoop out flesh using a tablespoon. Cut up any large pieces or mash with a fork if you like it smoother. Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired. These do not need anything else. Gala apples are naturally sweet and delicious! Enjoy!

Neil Miller/The New York Extra

INGREDIENTS USED: casserole-organic sweet potatoes,Trader Joe’s organic unsalted butter,Frontier organic Ceylon cinnamon, raw Pecans, Wellsley Farms organic virgin coconut oil. APPLESAUCE; Organic Gala apples, Frontier Ceylon cinnamon.

TIP OF THE DAY: Rather than using artificial or processed sugar Dates are a great way to get natural sweetness into your food. Chop or put in food processor, you can modify and add to recipes.

Deontay Wilder And His Legacy Of Knockouts Continues

Saturday night in Las Vegas it was Deontay Wilder again prevailing and defending the WBC heavyweight championship. Nothing different with his proficiency to knock out opponents as he disposed Luis Ortiz for the second time in a year.

But this was Wilder as he is. The right punch and pardon the pun, at the right time. The time Deontay Wilder throws the right, again an opponent has no time to blink.  

Wilder repeated the same thing last March at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Same slow start Saturday night and trailing on the scorecards, and then finding that opening to end things late in the seventh round.

The open was taking a left from Ortiz. The finish, don’t blink. That immediate and quick right to the head.

This is what makes Deontay Wilder, that ability to knock out opponents, 40 of them in 41 fights  He is making history and the main goal is to unify the heavyweight title, and that can occur at some point in the new year. 

 We are talking about a heavyweight that is cementing a legacy. And the only thing remaining, as Wilder wants, is to unify the heavyweight titles.

He said, “I am the best one to own those titles.” 

After a tentative rematch against Tyson Fury, February 22 is the date, Wilder should be in line to unify the titles. It would be a quick turnaround as he awaits the winner of the rematch with champion Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua in two weeks.

So why the talk? Why is Deontay Wilder in that discussion, more so, as possibly the best puncher in heavyweight history and among the current stable of top contenders?

But not many are as tall and rugged as Fury.  When that rematch occurs, Fury could be the one who ends the Wilder streak of knockouts. 

Among boxing’s biggest punchers, Deontay Wilder is as good as Joe Louis. “The Brown Bomber” won his first 23 bouts, 19 by knockout, 54 KO’s inm 71 bouts, including 22 KO’s in 25 successful defenses of his heavyweight crown.

He rivals those other legendary heavyweights. Rocky Marciano, undefeated with 43 knockouts in 49 fights, a slugging percentage of 87.7percent. 

Archie Moore, Geroge Foreman? They were great punch artists. Moore holds the all-time record for total career knockouts which numbered anywhere from 130 to 143, depending on who was counting.

But Deontay Wilder? He is setting records. That’s  97 percent of slugging percentage and knockouts for this modern day heavyweight who envisions fighting another six years. “

“Wilder because of his tremendous right hand on any given day could knock out almost anyone, past or present,” said Ron Stevens the former New York State Athletic Commissioner.

Stevens has seen those legendary heavyweights at ringside and on film. He  continues to witness the impact. Deontay Wilder is making an impact on the record books as an all-time heavyweight great.

So with a quick turnaround, Deontay Wilder is looking to continue this legacy and head for that quest to unify the titles. 

Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr. will be the next step. Assuming ,Widler gets past Fury. Joshua or Ruiz will be next in that unification quest.

And at this point, waiting for the right is something every heavyweight has to be concerned with.  Not even Mike Tyson had that ability to concern his next opponent.

Possibly, with six more fights on his agenda, Deontay Wilder could become the richest heavyweight champion on record. Another knockout, well that is certain to top the last one.

For now, and if you enjoy the  knockout in heavyweights, it’s all about Deontay Wilder.

Here is a look at the numbers from this latest knockout courtesy of CompuBox:

Punch Stats

PUNCHESWILDERORTIZ
Total landed3435
Total thrown184179
Percent19%20%
Jabs landed177
Jabs thrown13077
Percent13%9%
Power landed1728
Power thrown54102
Percent32%28%










Comment: Ring786@aol.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich mancuso

Darnold is Looking and Sounding Like a Franchise QB

East Rutherford, N.J. Sunday, November 24, 2019. NY Jets vs. Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium. Sam Darnold had good pass protection all day. (Photo by David L. Pokress/The New York Extra)

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

Dear Outrageous, Obnoxious, Outlandish Raiders fans.

Thank for you coming to MetLife Stadium Sunday and attempting to turn it into the Black Hole East. You were maddeningly, mind-bogglingly, maniacally antagonistic.

East Rutherford, N.J. Sunday, November 24, 2019. NY Jets vs. Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium. MetLife Stadium became the black hole for Raider fans today. (Photo by David L. Pokress/The New York Extra)

When the Jets took their home field, they felt like the visitors.

Those wearing the Black and Silver booed, hooted and hollered their heads off. And the guys in Green and White heard it. They heard it, went back into the home locker room and got heated.

“I’m not going to lie to you, when we came on to the field, we felt disrespected,” safety Jamal Adams said. “We got booed in our own home stadium by the Oakland fans. We came back into this locker room and it was a hell of a talk.”

East Rutherford, N.J. Sunday, November 24, 2019. NY Jets vs. Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium. Raiders backup QB Mike Glennon gets pressure from Jamal Adams. (Photo by David L. Pokress/The New York Extra)

Adams should know. He gave the talk and it contained a lot of words not suitable for white collar criminals.

Even the calm, cool, California kid, quarterback Sam Darnold, was jacked. He bullied his way for a four-yard touchdown run that gave the Jets a 10-3 lead in the second quarter. The Jets didn’t look back as they posted their most impressive win of the season, a 34-3 demolishing of the Raiders.

East Rutherford, N.J. Sunday, November 24, 2019. NY Jets vs. Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium. Sam Darnold finds the endzone on a QB keeper in the second quarter. (Photo by David L. Pokress/The New York Extra)

“I had someone in my way at the goal line,” Darnold said, “and I just did what I could to get into the end zone.”

This win, the Jets third straight, felt different than the previous two. The Jets beat the hapless Giants and pathetic Redskins in moving to 3-7. The Raiders, however came in with a 6-4 record, breathing down the necks of the Kansas City Chiefs for first place in the AFC West.

They left licking their bruised egos on what surely will be a long flight back to the West Coast.

“We got our butts kicked,” said veteran quarterback Derek Carr, who was benched. “There’s no other way around that. They got after us from start to finish. Hopefully, it’s an eye opener.”

East Rutherford, N.J. Sunday, November 24, 2019. NY Jets vs. Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium. Jamal Adams and Brandon Copeland crunch Raiders QB Derek Carr. (Photo by David L. Pokress/The new York Extra)

The quarterback that opened a lot of eyes was Darnold. It was a little more than a month ago that Darnold was haunted by the New England Patriots in a 33-0 loss. His rating that day was 1.5.

The Raiders saw a very different player. Darnold completed 20-of-29 passes for 315 yards with two touchdowns passing, one rushing and no interceptions. His rating was 127.8, or 126.3 better than it was against New England.

East Rutherford, N.J. Sunday, November 24, 2019. NY Jets vs. Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium. Sam Darnold scrambles for a gain. (Photo by David L. Pokress/The New York Extra)

This is new territory for Darnold and the Jets (4-7). This is Gang Green’s first three-game win streak in more than two years. Darnold, who missed time early with mononucleosis, is looking more and more like the franchise quarterback the Jets thought they were drafting last season with the No.3 pick.

Darnold also is sounding like a franchise quarterback. He’s tossed out the playoff word lately. Darnold is smart enough to know that almost certainly won’t happen this season. But isn’t it uplifting to hear a Jets QB talking about postseason?

“It’s in the back of my head,” Darnold said, “but I think where we’re at right now, we just gotta keep taking it one week at a time, and if we do that, I think we’ll be all right.”

ICYMI: Luis Robles, BWP Are No Longer With Red Bulls

Robbins Nest

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By Lenn Robbins

Unfortunately, the MLS has taken a page out of the Baltimore Colts managerial playbook. And most unfortunately, the team that gutted its fan base is your New York Red Bulls.

The Red Bulls aren’t moving for now but you could lay worse money than betting it’s just a matter of time before they relocate. In the meantime, the Red Bulls have opted to strip away the face of the franchise.

In a vague Thursday email to season ticket holders entitled, “Roster Changes Announced,” the Red Bulls announced they had picked up the options of 10 players and declined options on six others. Ho-hum.

Just when you were about to click on your favorite Black Friday sale, the second paragraph stated that team had declined the option on goalkeeper Luis Robles.

What?

What!

What?!

No goalie in the MLS was better at what he does and had a more profound connection with his franchise’s fan base than Robles. He is the Red Bulls career leader in every goaltending stat but his true legacy was his endurance.

Robles owns the MLS’ Ironman streak having played in 183 consecutive games. He was the league’s, and the Red Bull’s, Lou Gehrig.

Now he’s gone from the Garden State. Gone, less than two and one-half years after signing a multi-year extension. Gone after leading the Red Bulls to the only three Supporters’ Shields in franchise history, gone after earning MLS Goalie of the Year in 2015.

The captain, yes, Robles has worn the armband the last two seasons, is gone.

Gone, too, is Bradley Wright-Phillips, who until this season was the offensive face of the franchise, a bull of a scoring forward who combined brute strength and deft touch in the box.

The Red Bulls didn’t want this news to make headlines. The email showed up with no information other than that vague subject line and a split-screen photo with Wright-Phillips on the left, Robles on the right. Above the two players were the words, “Thank You Bradley and Luis.” Below the photo, in much smaller type, were the words, “Read More.”

Clicking on “Read More,” led you to the vanilla, generic first graph, followed by the explosive second graph announcing the end of the Robles Era, and later, the news that Wright-Phillips was gone. That was in the sixth paragraph.

Fans of Where’s Waldo would be impressed.

The legion of dwindling Red Bulls fans won’t be impressed by this latest gut punch.  Despite having a legit soccer stadium in the hotbed of New Jersey soccer, the Red Bulls haven’t been able to build their base.

Red Bull Arena seats 25,000. Despite having the best record in the Eastern Conference in 2018, attendance dipped 7.1 percent in 2019 to 17,281. By April, management began blocking off entire sections of the upper deck with tarp.

Now, Red Bulls fans, no less the casual soccer fan looking for a match, have to question supporting the team in Harrison, N.J., the one that jettisons key players in a Thursday Afternoon Massacre.  

Is Robles, 35, the same goalie he was in 2015? Maybe, maybe not.

He was 13-14-16 with a GAA of 1.52 in 2019. His career stats are 114-71-53 with a 1.29 GAA. The Red Bulls were significantly worse in 2019 than 2018 so making the popular goalie a scapegoat seems ill-advised.

BWP, 34, is a different story. It was painful to watch the oft-injured star hobble across the pitch. He played 24 games, scoring just two goals, his lowest total since 2013, his first season with the Red Bulls when he played just seven games.

We can debate if Father Time has caught up with both players, but that’s like taking a car with transmission trouble to a mechanic and hearing him suggest new tires.

Management has thrown the Red Bulls on the scrapheap. They were hoping you wouldn’t notice.

Boxing Notebook: The Sport Is Strong

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Boxing is healthy and strong and the year will end with the PBC, Top Rank, Matchroom Boxing, and other promoters that delivered a good product in 2019,

Healthy also because the promoters have revenue with DAZN and ESPN+ streaming networks. Strong with the  PBC multi-million dollar contract that delivers championship fights on Fox Sports and Showtime.

“The sport has never been this strong and fans are getting what they deserve,” said Lou DeBella. He should know with over 30 years of experience in promoting and developing world class fighters. 

More than a decade ago, DiBella, left his role as Director of Boxing at HBO. He started his Broadway Boxing Promotion that has expanded beyond New York City and events are held at major venues around the nation.

And with HBO out of the boxing business, it was assumed, boxing was dead. Far from that. The sport is thriving.

This weekend, four major shows are streaming.  Pay-Per-View is healthy and Saturday night the PBC with Fox Sports PPV will televise the WBC heavyweight title defense of Deontay Wilder against Luis Ortiz from las Vegas. 

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Last March, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Wilder stopped the 40-year old Ortiz in the 10th round with his viciscious right. Ortiz, seeking to become the first heavyweight champion from Cuba, up until the stoppage trailed 85-84 on all three scorecards. 

 The fight was in consideration for fight of the year.

Wilder also said, “He deserves a rematch,” Barclay’s Center was not available and the rematch was moved to Las Vegas and the MGM Grand Arena, also a city and venue that offers more revenue for the promoters as fight town USA.

About that first fight, Wilder said, “It allowed me to see what I’m really made of. It allowed the world to see what type of champion and a true champion that they have in America.”

America and a worldwide audience will get to see if Wilder can get to his goal, unifying the world heavyweight titles. Andy Ruiz Jr, owns the other titles in the division, and made history as the first Mexican heavyweight champion after a stunning knockout win over Anthony Joshua at Madison Square Garden in June.

So with that, the boxing calendar will be busy in December,. And New York City will host two major cards in consecutive weeks at Barclays Center in Brooklyn and at Madison Square Garden.

Boxing is healthy and New York City, once the proud owner of the weekly fight card at smoked filled arenas, is not out of the game.

PBC and Showtime will highlight three championship fights at Barclays Center, Saturday December 7th.  Undefeated WBC Middleweight World Champion Jermall Charlo defends his title against ranked contender Dennis Hogan.  

And Middleweight star Chris Eubank Jr. will have his debut fight in America. The son of  a former champion, Chris Sr. who trains him, opposed top contender Matt Korobov for the interim WBA Middleweight title. The fight has implications, the winner becoming a part of the mix and in contention for a major title in the division and Eubank Jr. has made it known that he wants a shot at Charlo. 

“Charlo is definitely the name that’s on my radar,” he said. “He is seen as one of the elite fighters in the middleweight division and I intend to prove that he is not on my level. It will be satisfying stamping my mark on the division against Charlo after I beat Koroboi. I think it will be a great fight for the fans as together our styles would make for a very good bout.”

Top Rank and ESPN will highlight Terence Crawford at the Garden the following Saturday.

Crawford, the WBO Welterweight champion, considered by many to be among the top three pound-for-pound fighters, also seeks to unify the titles in  what is considered the top division in boxing.

Yes, throw out the debate that boxing is not healthy. And that debate also ends about the sport as a has been in New York. 

Prediction Time for Ortiz-Wilder:  Will be an action packed few rounds and Ortiz will try and avoid that right hook that did him in last time. Wilder is taller and Ortizs has a weight advantage.

But the end will be the same, though sooner. Deontay Wilder retains with a stoppage in the sixth round and that quest to unify will await the Ruiz-Joshua rematch from Saudia Arabia on DAZN that is also scheduled for December 7.

Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Ellsbury And Bird Never Showed Their Potential With Yankees

The Yankees made roster moves Wednesday evening and perhaps Jacoby Ellsbury and Greg Bird should have been sent out of town sooner.  Of course it had to be Ellsbury and Bird to make room for the 40-man roster.

file photo /Neil Miller /The New York Extra

This is all about business and baseball.

More importantly, this is another baseball decision with the upcoming Rule 5 Draft that will be held December 12 during the Winter Meetings in San Diego.

file photo Neil Miller /Te New York Extra

But  in defense of Ellsbury and Bird, they could never show their potential as the often injury prone Yankees of the past few years. It can be said, when healthy, Ellsbury and Bird were catalysts to the lineup but there was never much time to take notice.

 Ellsbury, a .297 hitter with 65 home runs, 314 RBI over seven years with the Red Sox, spent most of this past season on the comeback trail from 2018 arthroscopic surgery to repair a left hip.

We never got to know the real Jacoby Ellsbury. He was like that no-show that saw circumstances go beyond his control, never a catalyst in New York as he was for the Red Sox. The Yankees expected that much when they signed him to a seven-year $153 million contract.  

Then, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, “Will be nice to see him finally on my side.”  Girardi, though never had much time to see what Ellsbury could do in his side. 

Instead, the Yankees will reportedly eat the remaining $21 million of that contract that was not insured for next year.

Again, this columnist goes back a year after the Ellsbury contract. Yankees General partner Hank Steinbrenner, with limited control said to yours truly,“We are getting away from signing long term multi year contracts.”

He was referring to signing long term pitchers. The last one supposedly  was granted to the recently retired CC Sabathia who had his share of injury issues with the knees in his last few years in the Bronx. 

Steinbrenner, then, was resisting the temptation to say he was against seven -year deals to position players.

He was right, because, Jacoby Ellsbury goes down as one of the worst long term contracts granted by the Yankees and perhaps in baseball.  And that also says a lot, as to why GM Brian Cashman has not been active about going after that needed front line starter and long term deal.

It may go down as one of the worst signing in New York baseball history, with the exception of the Mets’ signing of Bobby Bonilla who was signed before the 2000 season.

The Mets wanted Bonilla off their roster. He was an aging player and they wanted to go in another direction. Instead, they did not want to pay him the $5.9 million that remained and opted for a deal that gives Bonilla that unique deal of million dollar paydays every July 1 for 26 years.

Ellsbury should be so fortunate. Point is, he showed no signs of a damaged or aging player when he was signed. 

Hence, don’t expect the Yankees  attitude to change during this free agent signing period. In other words, don’t expect Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strausburg pitching anytime soon in Yankees pinstripes. 

And we never got to know the potential of 27-year old Greg Bird. He was a left handed hitter the Yankees needed. He had that natural ability to hit for power at Yankee Stadium.

But Greg Bird was in that unfortunate category of having the swing and trying to stay on the field. 

When asked prior to the All-Star break, GM Brian Cashman said  to this columnist about Bird, “He’s capable. He has talent. We are being patient about his situation and hope Greg Bird can still be in our plan.”

Yeah, patience does have a virtue in sports, it always does. But this was another situation of the Yankees put in a situation of retaining and getting around the issue of salary in this confusing era of  business and baseball.

Perhaps, Bird, too, would have seen his last days as a Yankee prior to the start of the 2019 season. But there was always hope he would get back to potential as the Yankees got around the first base issue and moved along.

The Yankees lost their patience. It was time to move on. Just as it was time for the Yankees to get away from that Ellsbury contract.

Now they can all move on and look at this as possibly another contract or two that went bad. 

Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Time For the Giants to Pull a Strasburg on Barkley

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

When Marquise Pouncey pounced on Garrett Myles, who had just cracked his helmet over Mason Randolph’s head, the Internet lit up with praise for the Pittsburgh center:

The ultimate team player.

The guy you want next to you if you’re driven into the opposition’s sideline.

The guy that will play hurt and play hard every play.

There were a few comments, however, that were confounding: To summarize, there is a belief that selfless, team-oriented players such as Pouncey, are becoming fewer in the NFL.

Certainly, it is a topic for debate, especially between fans of different generations. Athletes in the 60’s, 70’s, or 80’s might not have felt they had the right, no less the job security, to demand a trade, or seek outside medical opinions about a head injury.

Athletes in more recent decades have fought for better health care, pensions and the more radical ones have held out for an entire season in order to gain their freedom. They market themselves. They take political stands.

What some fans might confuse a player’s outward displays of emotion as an example of decaying team values, others see it as the evolution of the athlete/person that is just as committed to the team as players from years gone by.

Just when it seems as if the team-first players are diminishing (See: Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell) along comes Pouncey, or closer to home, Saquon Barkley.

Barkley has been playing with a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 3. Initial estimates had Barkley missing around eight games. He missed three.

Barkley added a dinged up shoulder in the Giants 34-27 loss to the Jets last weekend. He had his worst day as a pro, rushing 13 times for one yard and catching five balls for 30 yards.

The idea of Barkley shutting it down his bruised and battered body was put to him earlier this week. The 2-8 Giants will be playing golf come playoff time so to risk Barkley suffering a severe injury in these finals six games seems unwise, for player and team.

“The mindset of me sitting out and resting me for the rest season is beyond me,” Barkley told reporters. “I don’t agree with it and it won’t happen. I’m going to keep going until I can’t go anymore.”

When is that?

 Is it after this Sunday’s game in Chicago when the Giants face a fierce Bears’ defense? Is it the following week, when the playoff-bound Packers with their improved defense, comes to town? Is it Dec. 9th when the Giants play at NFC East rival Philadelphia whose defense can hit with the best of them?

“To say that I’m not healthy, that’s just an excuse,” said Barkley. “Everyone is banged up, everyone is going through something and I’m not going to let that be an excuse for why I’m not having a successful season. The reason I’m not having a successful season is because I’m not making enough plays for my team.”

The Nationals shut down Stephen Strasburg in 2012. Strasburg was having a great bounce back season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. Washington knew it had a specials talent in the then 24-year-old. They weren’t going to risk his career.

Seven years later, Strasburg helped the Nationals win their first-ever World Series. He was named MVP. The club likely saved Strasburg from himself.

The Giants need to do the same with the 22-year-old Barkley. They need to do it now.

It’s hard to know whether there are more of less team-first players in the NFL. Fortunate for us, a young-in-age, old-in-soul player wears the No.26 in blue. It would be nice to have him healthy and relentless for years to come.

Quest for Healthy Alternatives

Homemade Salad Dressing and Greens by Foodlady7…

FoodLady’s 7 Chopped Green Salad with fresh veggies Neil Miler /The New York Extra

One of the healthiest options we can do for ourselves is to replace one meal a day with a green salad heaped with assorted raw vegetables . Pick your greens whether that be arugula, romaine, spinach, spring mix or what ever suits your fancy. Choose a variety of colored vegetables to top with such as diced/sliced radishes, beets, carrots, red cabbage, cucumbers, red onions, celery, mushrooms etc. Use your imagination to make endless combinations! You can add some fresh fruit if desired like clementine segments or mango, berries being the healthiest option. Avocado or a sprinkle of chopped walnuts are healthy fat options.

Now don’t ruin all that goodness with a bottled dressing laden with sugar, preservatives and unhealthy fats! Throw those bottles in the trash where they belong! It is so easy to make your own. I use apple cider vinegar and organic extra virgin olive oil, start with equal parts and adjust to taste. If that’s too vinegary for you just add more oil. Add in any seasonings and/or dried organic herbs of your choice, such as dill, oregano, ginger, Italian seasoning, Herbs de Provence, garlic powder and onion powder are some examples. A dash of Fresh squeezed lemon or orange juice is good for a change of pace every now or then or even a drop of raw honey on a special occasion.

This is a simple way to incorporate clean eating into your life. Just play around with different options to create your own taste sensations. You’ll feel better and your body will thank you! Enjoy!

TIP OF THE DAY: To save time I usually chop up a bunch of veggies , I always deseed cucumbers, then store in a plastic container. They keep fresh for several days. Just spoon on top of your salad greens and viola ready to go!!

Salad dressing brands used in this recipe Neil Miller /The New York Extra 2019

Brands used in this recipe are as follows; Braggs Organic Apple Cider Vinegar,Trader Joes’s California Extra Virgin Olive Oil,Great Value Organic Orange peel,Herbs de Provence,and ground mustard,Olde Thompson Pepper Supreme and Mediterranean sea salt

Jets Are No Closer to Knowing If Darnold Is The Man

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

10/21/19 Patriots vs Jets at Metlife stadium East Rutherford nj #14 Sam Darnold returns to the bench after a 3 and out in the 4th quarter Neil Miller/ The New York Extra

It has been almost exactly one month since Sam Darnold saw ghosts. One month since the New England Pats, known cheaters, seemingly had 12 men on the field on defense for every play in a 33-0 bashing of the Jets.

Every time Darnold thought he had an open window, it was slammed shut. Every time he thought he had a receiver break free, he was covered. Darnold completed just 11-of-32 passes for 86 yards with no touchdowns and four interceptions.

East Rutherford, N.J., Monday, October 21, 2019. Jets QB Sam Darnold and J.C. Jackson of the Patriots chase the ball in the endzone after it was snapped over Darnold’s head. The play was called a safety. (Photo by David L. Pokress/The New York Extra)

When the mic-up Darnold was overheard saying he was seeing ghosts, Jets Nation went apoplectic. Their second-year quarterback, the third player picked in the 2018 NFL Draft, was a bust, his psyche snapped, they fretted.

Over the last two games, however, Darnold has completed 38-of-60 passes for 523 yards with five touchdowns and just one interception. Not a spirit in sight in wins over the Giants, 34-27, and Redskins, 34-17.

11/10/19 NY giants VS NY Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. NY Jets #14 Sam Darnold throws in the 1st half today Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Yet the Jets are not much closer to knowing if Darnold will be their franchise quarterback than they were after the Patriots’ game. The Redskins have the 21st worst defense in the NFL. The Giants are even worse. They’re 31st.

“Towards the end of the game, I was talking more about the interception to the coaches and the other players, so maybe that,” Darnold told reporters about his dialogue Sunday. “But I think for us as an offense, as a whole, it’s just another steppingstone in the right direction, so that’s how we’re going to look at it.”

The one thing we’ve learned, and this might turn out to be paramount, is that Darnold didn’t crack, his psyche wasn’t snapped, his confidence hadn’t been confiscated by the Pats.

East Rutherford, N.J., Monday, October 21, 2019. Terrence Brooks (25) celebrates his third quarter interception in the endzone with his Patriots defensive teammates. (Photo by David L. Pokress/The New York Extra)

In fairness to Darnold, the Patriots defense is great. It made Carson Wentz look pedestrian Sunday night in a 17-10 New England win. Maybe every quarterback, save Lamar Jacks on, sees ghosts when playing the Pats.

Maybe, just maybe, Darnold is on his way to being a franchise QB.

“He knows what he likes; he knows what he doesn’t like,” Jets coach Adam Gase said of Darnold. “He’s not afraid to say it.”

Good to know. The question is, can Darnold, who’s not exactly surrounded by the talent Troy Aikman had with the Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin, win a game against a top-tier NFL defense?

Darnold did complete passes to seven different receivers, which suggests he’s seeing more of the field. But we won’t for another month if Darnold has exorcised his demons and is closer to being a franchise QB than he is today.

The Jets play at Baltimore on Dec. 12. The Ravens made Texans’ QB Deshaun Watson look like a scarecrow on Sunday. If Darnold can play as he has these last two weeks, well, that will speak well of his progress.

If not, well, Jets fans are accustomed to seeing all kinds of bizarre occurrences from butt fumbles to Bill Belichick becoming coach for a day. Seeing ghosts is nothing new.

HomeComing Day Split At Rose Hill

credit Robert Cole/The New York Extra /2019

The schedule up at Rose Hill on the campus of Fordham University had that double-dip set for Saturday. It was Homecoming Day for football against Holy Cross in the afternoon at Jack Coffey Field. A few hours later in the Rose Hill Gym, Men’s basketball and tipoff against Marist College.

Joe DiBari, the longtime Fordham Sports Information Director may have had the hardest task of the day. He, and his staff prepared  game notes, made sure the football press box and media row at courtside were ready to go.

The Fordham University Athletics Department knew it could be done. The pep band, cheerleaders, dance team,  security, and the game staff were in game mode. They all worked the double-dip.

“They came to me and said, ” You want to do this we can do it,” said DiBari.” It’s not going to be easy and we do it,” 

It is that rare occurrence up at Rose Hill of  two major sports on the same day, and sometimes the double-dip is necessary, Homecoming for football draws the important alumni and the objective is those fans will take a few steps and head to the Rose Hill Gym, 

Except, the  oldest college basketball field House in the nation was not at capacity.

“Arthur Avenue.” said DiBari. Yes, in proximity are the finest Italian restaurants in New York and many chose that option. 

But business as usual for DiBari and his staff. They had no time for a break after the Rams on the gridiron lost a tough one to Holy Cross 49-27. The Fordham defense allowed five fourth quarter touchdowns to the Crusaders that ruined part one of the Homecoming Day at Rose Hill.

The combined crowds were an estimated 3,500, most there for football. Holy Cross and Fordham have a football history and met for the 58th time that started in 1902.  

But it wasn’t a total loss. Those who left Rose Hill listened to the basketball broadcast on WFUV 90.7 FM or streamed the game online. 

“Football didn’t win today but the environment on campus, it’s a special thing here in America that we take for granted about how cool campuses are, but also how athletics is interwind,” said head basketball coach Jeff Neubauer.

With their 58-41 win, the Rams opened their season 3-0 against Division 1 opponents for the first time since 1972.

“ We have this really cool thing, homecoming happens like all these people come back to their university,’ Neubauer said. “It’s just  a fun weekend.”

Chuba Obams scored 13 points and nailed nine rebounds for Fordham. Four players scored in double figures. Antwon Portley added 12 points and Jalen Cobb, 10 points, came off the bench and continued to make an impression.

It is early in the season for the Rams on the court as one more game remains on the schedule next Saturday at Rose Hill that will conclude another disappointing football season.

 But this was a great way to end the double-dip up at Rose Hill, even though very few remained to see the split. 

“A great weekend for Fordham,” Neubauer said. “Also happy we were able to get this done tonight.”

Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Jacob deGrom ,Another look by Rich Mancuso,The New York Extra

08/11/19 Washington Nationals vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens NY
#48 Jacob De Grom pitches in the 1st innning The New York Extra

Now you can place Jacob deGrom in that category of dominance. There won’t be a debate about the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner in that category of being a top pitcher in the game with consecutive awards that became official Wednesday evening.

Once the Baseball Writers’ Association of America could look at the win totals,as that significant factor in determining CY Young consideration.

But Jacob deGrom has changed that criteria and turned the vote into that category of dominance.  The Mets right-hander became the 11th pitcher to win consecutive Cy Young Awards with 29 of 30 votes.

It has been dominance from a modern day pitcher with 21 wins in the last two seasons. The wins used to play a role in the vote. But Jake has changed the guidelines with his dominance.

 He showed that again in 2019, a 2.07 ERA in his final 27 starts, finishing 9-7. And if the Mets provided more run support and bullpen preserved the lead, Jacob deGrom ups the win totals.

“I kind of got back to my mindset of 2018,” deGrom said Wednesday night. “I didn’t let much bother me.”

And that characteristic of  going about his business is something in itself. As the Mets showed down the stretch in September, deGrom, was in his usual position of pitching deep into games. He went about business as the Mets failed to score runs,

08/23/19 Atlanta Braves vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens NY #48 Jacob DeGrom hits a solo homer in the 6th inning Neil Miller /The New York Extra

But it wasn’t an easy April. Jacob deGrom did not resemble a Cy Young pitcher in the first few months. He had to struggle as hnis team failed to score runs. He made the necessary adjustments with that mindset of getting wins for hbis team as a priority. 

File Photo #48 Jacob DeGrom Neil Miller /The New York Extra

The Cy Young talk came  into play months later. The admiration from his teammates in the clubhouse is what every pitcher looks for.

08/29/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens NY #28 J.D.Davis hits a solo homer in the 1st inning Neil Miller /The New York Extra

“I was so impressed with the way he carried himself throughout the first part of the season,” said J.D. Davis. “He hit some adversity but continued  to grind it out to then turn the page and be lights out for the rest of the season.”

It was Cy Young all over again. He joined the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and the Nationals’ Mat Scherzer as the 20th pitcher to win multiple CY Young Awards.

“His attention to detail and preparation went to another level.” Davis said. “And while a lot of us young guys watch one of our leaders dive into trying to better himself everyday, helped us to stay motivated and driven into bettering ourselves for the team.”

What stands out here was leading NL pitchers in strikeouts, lowest OBP allowed, finishing second in  ERA and WHIP, third in innings pitched.

And those final 23 starts, allowing more than two runs just four times and three runs twice in that span. Jacob deGrom, though, was not happy as he finished the season as a Cy Young favorites in his final start.

He said, “I guess you do kind of set personal goals, but tonight we fell short of a team goal.”

You hear this about the Cy Young Award winners over the years and comparisons with some of the former Mets that have been on the mound.

Tom Seaver, Doc Gooden, R.A Dickey, all Cy Young Award winners with the Mets.  Seaver and Gooden stand out as those homegrown products and led the Mets to championships.  

Jacob deGrom got the Mets close in 2015. He wants that championship and his team is close after falling three game short of a 2019 NL wild card .  

The Mets fell short but this week two of their homegrown took home awards. Tuesday, Pete Alonso was the landslide 2019 NL Rookie of the Year.  

It is all good for an organization that is close to getting the major hardware in October.

“It means a lot to this team and organization to have a Cy Young Award winner and a Rooke of The Year winner,” Davis said. “The future is bright for the Mets and is led by two great ballplayers.”

Davis Said, “I can’t wait for the 2010 season to start.” 

 And something says, Jacob deGrom is destined for history with another  Cy Young Award and championship year not far from becoming a reality.
Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitetr@Ring786  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Mets deGrom Wins Back to Back Cy Young Awards

File photo New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom #48 Neil Miller /The New York Extra

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

What is with it with the Mets and these one-voter outliers?!

Mets ace Jacob deGrom made history Wednesday night, becoming the first Met pitcher to win back-to-back Cy Young awards, just the seventh in NL history to go back-to-back and the 12th overall to accomplish that remarkable feat.

New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom #48 /file photo Neil Miller /The New York Extra

But it wasn’t unanimous.

deGrom got the first-place vote on 29 of 30 ballots. Dodgers left Hyun-Jin Ryu got the lone remaining first-place vote and finished second.

“Words can’t express it,’’ deGrom said on MLB Network. “I said it was a dream to win one, but to win back-to-back, honestly, I’m kind of speechless right now.’’

Which might go for a lot of Mets fans.

Rye (14-5) had a better ERA (2.32) than deGrom (2.43) who went 11-8. But deGrom had more strikeouts (255) than Rye (163) and Mets ace was virtually untouchable in the second half of the season.

After giving up seven runs on nine hits in five innings of a loss to the lowly Marlins, deGrom’s numbers were 3-5 with a 3.98 ERA. This a far cry from his 2018 numbers of 10-9 with a ridiculous 1.70 ERA.

“I feel like I was trying to better what I did in 2018,” deGrom told reporters. “I think that was something I struggled with to start this year, was kind of dwelling on what happened last year. Kind of not focusing on the task ahead as much as I probably should have.”

deGrom regained his focus and posted a 1.89 ERA the rest of the season. Yet it was the same case last season, when deGrom beat out Max Scherzer. De  Grom was not a unanimous winner. He got the first place vote on 29-of-30 ballots.

If this sounds familiar it should. Earlier this week Mets slugger Pete Alonso won the NL Rookie of the Year, getting the first-place nod of 29-of-30 voters. Alonso, who wore black 100-% baseball cap signaling his belief that he should be the unanimous winner.

Justin Verlander won Cy Young in the American League. He and deGrom join Mets legend as the only three pitchers to have won Rookie of the Year and multiple Cy Young awards.

08/29/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny #48 Jacob DeGrom reacts after giving p a 3 run homer in the 7th inning to #7 Vitor Caratini as the Cubs lead the Mets 4-1 Neil Miller/The New York Extra

 “This year, having that little rough patch, this game will humble you quick,’’ deGrom said. “Last year, I didn’t really seem to have any

. It was kind of smooth sailing all year. But this year, to recover from that little rough patch and figure out a way to get it done and go out there and fix some mechanical things, was good.”

Just not unanimous good.

Yankees Will Be in Mix For Cole or Strasburg

File Photo Steve Strasburg Neil Miller /The New York Extra/2019

 Aaron Boone could have won the 2019 AL Manager of The year but he was the runner up to the Twins’ Rocco Baldelli. Boone was deserving with a team that overcame a  MLB record 30 players on the injured list and winning 100 games or more in his first two years as manager.

File photo Aaron Boone Neil Miller /The New York Extra

Leave that for another day about Aaron Boone coming up short. The priority now is for the Yankees to go that extra step and play baseball deep into October.

And with the GM meetings this week in Scottsdale Arizona, Brian Cashman has started that task to a new season. In a few weeks the process to winning again in 2020 continues at the annual Winter Meetings in San Diego. 

File photo Brian Cashman Neil Miller/The New York Extra 2019

Which always brings up the question for all teams, and in particular for the Yankees, regarding their failure to reach the World Series for the first time since the years of 1910.

But the Yankees are close. You can blame the inability to send a frontline starter to the mound in the postseason, a Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg. 

Overall, the Yankees  2019 postseason has been recounted over and over about their failure to score with runners in scoring position. Or was it analytics that saw their potent lineup swing and miss at first pitches?

The objective, as it always is for Brian Cashman, return and win the World Series and do it with their mix of a few veterans.  Get it done with another year of experience from Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Gio Ursehla, and perhaps Miguel Andujar.

And with that in mind, the objective of every GM in baseball this week is beginning that process to improve.  

“ Of course we’re going to talk to Strasburg,” Cashman said Monday. “We’ll talk to Cole. We’ll also talk about some surprise guys, I’m sure. It’s going to take two to tango. It’s hard to predict. But of course, anybody would have an interest in players like that.”

So, Cashman is talking. The Yankees, never dormant during the offseason,they will make their bids.

File Photo Zach Wheeler Neil Miller/The New York Extra

But bring this into consideration? How high will the Yankees go with an offer to Cole or Strasburg? How high will an offer go to Zack Wheeler if the Mets don’t make their bid to re-sign the Right-hander? Wheeler is considered the third top pitcher on the market next to the other two.

And keep this in mind, through the Yankees spend, they are always looking to not exceed that luxury tax threshold of $208 million, though they have the means this offseason to spend.

 Didi Gregorious and Dellin Betances are free agents. Cashman is not ruling out a return for Betances, though in a game that requires bullpen help, the Yankees may not have the means to retain him and all assuming at the right offer.

Then there are the words of Yankees General Partner  Hank Steinbrenner who informed this columnist three years ago that gone will be the days of handing out lucrative and long term contracts to pitchers.

For the most part, this Steinbrenner, with limited control, is still in the decision process. The Yankees have not gone long term with a starting pitcher since handing a seven-year multi-million dollar deal to CC Sabathia in 2008.

 Steinbrenner said at the time, “It is not worth the risk with a pitcher long term and susceptible to injury.”

But the philosophy, and heard from numerous sources, has changed within the Yankees hierarchy. They are aware, as we all do, the game has changed. Pitching and in the  postseason will win ball games even if it means spending over the tax.

Though for Cole, Strasburg, or Wheeler  there will be a tremendous cost. Cole is projected to obtain the highest paid contract on record for a pitcher and perhaps tops in the game.

But if the trend holds, count on the top two pitchers on the market signing late in the game and a few weeks before spring training.

Again, these next few days are about meeting and getting to know. Very few deals are made during the GM and Winter meetings.  It’s a bidding war and the Yankees will be a part of the process.

And if the Yankees want  to take that step and begin the new decade with a championship, well the first step is bringing one of those top three pitchers to the Bronx.

They hardly fail to get what they want. They are the Yankees and they do have the means to do it.  Stay tuned!
Comment: Ring786@aol.com Twitter@Ring786  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

All Alonso Needs to do is Keep Playing Like a Rookie

08/27/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny Mets #20 Pete Alonso hits his 42 home run of the year breaking a Mets record and putting the Mets ahead 1-0 in the 4th inning Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

Now that Pete Alonso has accomplished almost everything a rookie can hope for, here’s our hope.

Peter Morgan Alonso, please don’t change.

Don’t make it habit but if you happen to get your jersey torn off after a post-game heroic, do the interview shirtless.

Continue to honor the victims, heroes and families of 9/11.

07/26/19 Pittsburgh Pirates vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens NY #20 Pete Alonso at ceremony with Tunnels to Towers and Wounded Warriors Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Keep crushing home runs.

And for as long as humanly possible, play baseball like a 12-year-old at Williamsburg, full of joy and passion.

Of course, for the next couple of weeks, take the National League Rookie of the Year Plaque on a Stanley Cup-like run. You can’t plant flowers in it or drink beer out of it but you can hoist a lot of cold ones in Tampa or New York or any else place there’s a Mets  fan.

We’ll set over/under at 53, the record number of home runs Alonso slugged this year. That didn’t break just any record, it broke the record for home runs by a rookie previously held by a Yankee – Aaron Judge.

Trust us. This is huge for Mets fans that spends almost eternal second fiddle to the Yankees.

In addition to crushing those 53 home runs, Alonso drove in 120 runs while hitting. 260. The Polar Bear, all 6-3, 245 pounds even stole a base.

What was stolen from Alonso was winning the award in unanimous fashion, which clearly was on his mind Monday night at the award’s announcement. He wore a black hat inscribed with “100 %.”

 Alonso received 29 of 30 first-place votes. One voter opted for Atlanta rookie pitcher Mike Soroka received the one other first place vote.

If Alonso needs motivation next season, he could look there. Just as he could have used the fact that he barely made the big club coming out of spring training. Surely he was thrilled to make the team and maybe there was some extra mojo.

But this is what makes Alonso such a New York treasure. He doesn’t need a chip on his shoulder because he has laughter in his heart. He loves the game. He knows how few make this dream come true.

Hopefully, Alonso will never forget that. He’ll continue to embrace the big, warm, cuddly Polar Bear persona, player version of Mr. Met. He’ll get just as big a thrill out of a walk-off walk, that led to the bare-chested celebration, as he gets from a walk off homer.

He’ll be that kid that dreamed of one day winning NL Rookie of the Year. And then he did it.

Could An All-Star Team of Jets and Giants Make the Playoffs?

By Lenn Robbins

11/10/19 NY giants VS NY Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. NY Jets #48 JOrdan Jenkins celebrtaes after a sack of NY Giants #8 Daniel jones today Neil Miller /The New York Extra 2019

 The worst place to go for an NFL game is MetLife Stadium.

East Rutherford, N.J. Sunday, November 10, 2019. Darius Slayton makes a catch in front of Jamal Adams. Photo by David L. Pokress/The New york Extra 2019

  The two teams that call this steel and concrete monstrosity home have a combined record of 4-15. Amazingly, they played a somewhat entertaining game Sunday with the Jets beating the Giants 34-27.

  The Jets share the bottom of the AFC East with a 2-7 mark. The 2-8 Giants have a one-half game lead over the truly pathetic Washington Redskins for last place in the NFC East.

East Rutherford, N.J. Sunday, November 10, 2019. Jamison Crowder of the Jets takes Janoris Jenkins along for the ride in the first half. Photo by David L. Pokress/The New York Extra 2019

  Apparently, the Jets offense is quite competent, as long as its playing against the Giants defense. Gang Green averaged 223.5 yards (dead last in football) and 11 points (tied for last) going into the game. They racked up 294 yards and 34 points against the Giants.

11/10/19 NY giants VS NY Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. NY Giants #86 Darius Slaton makes a reception in todays game Neil Miller/The New York Extra 2019

And the Giants offense is competent when playing against the Jets defense. Big Blue averaged 326.8 yards and 19.6 points going into the game. They racked up 287 yards and 27 points against the Jets.

Yep, it was that bad.

 The sobering questioning is this: If you were to draft a team of Jets and Giants, would it be good enough to make the playoffs. Remember, the NFL rewards mediocrity, so we’re not counting on 10-6, 8-8 gets you in, 7-9 might.

So, we put together our All-NY NFL team. Perhaps you should sit.

East Rutherford, N.J. Sunday, November 10, 2019. Jets QB Sam Darnold splits Giants defenders to score a first quarter touchdown. Photo by David L. Pokress/The New York Extra 2019
11/10/19 NY giants VS NY Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. NY Jest #14 Sam Darnold throws in the 1st half today Neil Miller/The New York Extra

QB: Sam Darnold or Daniel Jones – They each get a half. Cop out, I know: Still evaluating. Might be the case for the next five years. Ouch.

RB – Saquon Barkley, Giants – despite yesterday’s performance, second best all-around back in football (Christian McCaffrey).

RB – Le’Veon Bell, Jets – despite this season, once one of the best all-around backs in football.

TE – Evan Engram – Legit. Would start on most teams.

OT – Kelvin Beachum, Jets – consummate pro.

OG – Brian Winters, Jets – had the temerity to get in Darnold’s face after last week’s botched snap count.

C – Jon Halapio, Giants – did not have to be lured out of retirement, like Jets center.

OG – Will Hernandez, Giants – emerged as a nasty, borderline dirty player last week. We like it.

OT – Mike Remmers, Giants – see Beachum.

WR – Sterling Shepherd, Giants – Should not play again this season, if ever. No joke.

WR – Jamison Crowder, Jets – Solid slot receiver.

PK – Aldrick Rosas – He started the season on the roster, unlike the Jets, who didn’t have an NFL-caliber kicker on its roster.

DEFENSE

11/10/19 NY giants VS NY Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. New York Jets #33 Jamal Jenkins leaps into the arms of Jets defenders after a turnover in today game Neil Miller /The New york Extra

DT – Kyle Phillips, Jets – Each team gets one player with potential

DL – Quinnen Williams, Jets – Slow start, coming on.

DT – Dalvin Tomlinson, Giants – Each team gets one player with potential.

DL – Dexter Lawrence, Giants – Looking like a terrific pick at No. 17.

OLB – Markus Golden, Giants – A delightful surprise. Serious.

ILB – Alec Ogletree, Giants – A little on reputation.

ILB – CJ Mosley, Jets – Amazing one-game season.

OLB – Jordan Jenkins, Jets – Out of options here.

CB – Janoris Jenkins, Giants – Depends of which Jackrabbit shows up.

CB – Darryl Roberts, Jets/DeAndre Baker, Giants – Each gets one half to avoid third-degree burns.

11/10/19 NY giants VS NY Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. NY Jets #33 Jamal Adams sprints into the end zone for a touchdown after stripping the ball from NY Giants Daniel Jones in the 3rd quarter Neil Miller/The New York Extra 2019

SS – Jamal Adams, Jets – He’s the best, just ask him.

FS – Marcus Maye, Jets – He’s very good, but not as good as Adams.  Just ask Adams.

P – Uh, who cares?

Coach – To Be Determined, Jets, Adam Gase/Giants, Pat Shurmur – If they’re both back for 2021 season, season ticket holders deserve refunds. Wait, did I say 2021?  Meant 2020. Sorry for the panic attack.

Does this team make the playoffs? Feel free to write.

Historic Ivy League Win For Dartmouth In The Bronx

Iconic as it always is at Yankee Stadium and that means college football as it was a Saturday afternoon. Two undefeated teams, Dartmouth and Princeton on the gridiron and the winner gets sole possession of the top spot in the Ivy League.

But this was all about Dartmouth. Their defense continued to be their story as they remained undefeated, 8-0, with a 27-10 win over Princeton. It was the second straight year the two schools came into their game nationally  ranked, perfect 7-0 records, and the Ivy League title on the line.

credit Robert Cole /The New York Extra 2019

The scholastic-athletes of both schools know the history when they walk through the halls on campus. The coaches tell them about the history and Saturday afternoon was no different. 

They walked on the iconic Yankee Stadium turf in the Bronx  and there was more history. It was 150 years ago, three days after the anniversary of Princeton playing Rutgers in the first college football game in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

“We spent a lot of time talking about the history,” said Princeton coach Bob Surace. “Our football program playing the first game.”

But this was the game his Tigers wanted in the Bronx. They came in having won 17 consecutive games.  Kevin Davidson did not make this historic for Princeton. It was not an iconic game for the senior quarterback from Danville California. He threw for 210 yards and a touchdown pass to Graham Admonitis.

Two interceptions wiped away the Tigers accomplishments and their rank among the top FCS teams in scoring and total yards. They turned over their first four possessions and finished with 246 yards. 

But for many on this Princeton team, losing has not been common. For many of their freshmen and sophomores, they have not experienced what it is to lose.  

“Some of these freshmen and sophomores in this locker room have never lost a game,” said Princeton coach Bob Surace.

He applauded the Dartmouth defense that held Harvard last week to 96 yards in the final minute without the aid of a timeout. The BIg Green and their defense held the Crimson to a pair of field goals Harvard’s fewest points in a home game since a 6-3 Dartmouth win back in 1996.

“They have a perfect defense,” said Surace..”They scored on defense and a couple of field goals. They have 17 seniors.  They won every one of those little battles especially the turnovers, the sacks. They are an excellent team. Credit goes to them.”

 Many of the 21,506 in attendance that traveled up the Jersey Turnpike from Princeton did not expect their Saturday to see a winning streak stopped with a defense of that magnitude. 

 Davidson, the  league leader in passing and touchdown passes, threw his 20th to Graham for three-yards  with seconds left in the first half. That put Princeton on the scoreboard with their first six points.

It was about Dartmouth and that defense. Princeton could not do much  except for a field goal in the third quarter. By that time, this iconic and historic game in the Bronx was just about over.

No it’s back to work for the Princeton Tigers with two more games against Yale at home and at Penn. A season not lost, but their first loss and time to regroup.

There will be more college football at Yankee Stadium. The 10th annual New Era Pinstripe Bowl takes place Friday December 27th with teams to be announced from the ACC and Big Ten Conferences. 

Comment: Rin786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso


Anderson The Entertainer In His St. John’s Debut

Robbins Nest

St Johns caoch Mike Anderson at Tuesdays game /Neil Miller/ The New York Extra 2019

By Lenn Robbins

If Hollywood ever decides to create a remake of the Oscar-winning epic, Gladiator, Mike Anderson should be the one standing in the middle of the colosseum bellowing, “Are You Not Entertained?!”

Anderson made his St. John’s coaching debut Wednesday and the Johnnies pressed, ran, passed and defended Mercer in a 109-79 blowout that wasn’t that close. The Johnnies forced 24 turnovers which led to 30 points.

“I hope our fans enjoyed it,” Anderson told reporters after the game. “It’s an entertaining style of basketball, but it’s winning basketball.”

That remains to be seen in the Big East, where some of the greatest guards that ever played the game took their city handle and carved up opposing defenses. Safe to say Villanova, Seton Hall, Marquette, et al will be better prepared and certainly more skilled to handle the Anderson’s style.

The flip side is that no team in the Big East plays this style. It’s similar to playing Army in football. That option is impossible to prepare for.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, almost as quickly as St. John’s got ahead of Mercer and really never let up. The Johnnies led 15-6 by the first media timeout and the Bears should have begun warming up the bus right there and then.

Anderson’s hire was a bit of a head-scratcher. He has used this swarm-of-wasps style to succeed at Tulsa, Missouri and Arkansas, but he couldn’t tell you where to get a good slice in the city no less the top games in the Grady and Lincoln history.

The Johnnies had one of their own – the best player in school history – on the bench these last four seasons. Chris Mullin left after the death of his brother and a feeling that the administration wasn’t sufficiently backing him and the program.

If there are spirits in Carnesecca Arena than Mullin and St. John’s will both find success.

Certainly, there was spirit in the bandbox on the corner of Union and Utopia. Anderson’s style is right out of the West 4th Street cage and every other proving ground in the city.  The Johnnies got right up in Mercer’s chest. Secondary defenders were eager to help. Mustapha Heron (25 points), LJ Figueroa (18) and Nick Rutherford (14) combined for 12 assists.

Defensive is a lot easier to sell when it turns into offense. The Johnnies  score 40 fastbreak points.

For one night, Anderson sold his vision better than Popeye’s is selling its chicken sandwich. The 109 points were the most for a St. John’s coach making his debut.

“For two hours every game, we are going to provide sheer entertainment,” Anderson told reporters earlier this week. You won’t even want to take a bathroom break.”

First Win For Fordham Leads To Optimism by Rich Mancuso/The New York Extra

Jeff Neubauer is always optimistic and Tuesday night the fifth year men’s basketball coach at Fordham University saw his team up at  Rose Hill win their first game of the season. This coach had every reason to be optimistic.

Fordham men’s basketball head coach Jeff Neubauer at last nites game Neil Miller/The New York Extra 2019

His team responded in the second half.  The Rams overcame a fourteen point deficit and won their season opener, 68-59 over St. Francis of Brooklyn.   

But this was one game and the Atlantic-10 Conference will be on the agenda. The win was satisfying and the coach will take it. 

“So many guys gave us real contributions,”said Neubauer. “We had leadership from our veterans. They have been through something like this before. They got some resolve, they’ve got some  toughness, they got some experience to fall back on.”

The Rams and their coach hope this is the season they make more inroads.  They have the veterans, 12 players have returned, and in the Atlantic 10 Conference not many basketball programs  have that retention.

They play in a conference that has three of the top 25 schools in pre season polls.  Davidson, Richmond, and Dayton are on the schedule in January when conference play begins.

As always, this won’t be easy for the Rams but they hope by mid March to go a step further when the A-10 Conference Tournament tips off at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

And if Tuesday night is any indication, despite this being the first game, Neubauer could see his team take that next step.  Winning these non conference games are important.They provide some indication of what to expect in January when the schedule gets tough.

It is early in November. The Rams and their coach, well, they know the pressure is always going to be there. Alumni and supporters are starving to see their program move out of the bottom three in the conference and take that next step. 

But patience may be running thin. There are always rumors that this coach needs to win. Neubauer arrived at Rose Hill four years ago. The Rams finished 17-14 overall, 8-10 in the conference, and an appearance in the CollegeInsiders.com Tournament was not the NCAA or NIT in his first year,

Everyone wants to be a part of the Big Dance in March. So winning these non conference games are as important as those in the Atlantic-10.

There were mistakes Tuesday night.  There always are as a team begins to respond and find out what has to be done in that first game. There were the freshman responding and 12 returning players which is more than the other thirteen teams in the conference. 

“The way we phrase it, we have twelve  guys back from last year,” Neubauer said. “ look around  the A- 10, you may find that teams lost six- seven guys to transfer so we do have an experienced team. Our job is to attack the rim something  we did not do well last year.”

And they won the first game  without Nick Honor. The highly touted recruit and leading scorer as a freshman transferred to Clemson.

But they played that second half as if they were ready for March. 

#1 Chuba Ohams Neil Miller/The New York Extra
#13 Antown Portley Neil Miller /The New York Extra

Ivan Raut, the junior guard had 15 points. Two of his 3-pointers turned it around as Fordham went on a 16-4 run in that second half. Chuba Ohams, the junior forward, had 19 points and 13 rebounds. Antown Portley added 14 points.

#4 Ereten Gazi Neil Miller /The New York Extra

And a senior, Erten Gazi, came off the bench and scored 11. They responded after losing so many last year by not converting the three-pointers. They have changed a bit, more inside than shooting beyond the arch. 

“The  problem, we were in a bunch of them,” said the coach.”If  you look at how many games we lost by three last year, it’s more than most teams lose by three in a  decade so I do think all those experiences from last year helped.”

And as they say, the first game is in the books that leads to optimism.

Comment: Ring786@aol,.com  Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Four Things We Learned From the Champions Classic

credit twitter

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

  By now you have learned certain things in life are meaningless.

  The fortune inside the cookie. Meaningless.

  The LCD boards in every subway station. Meaningless.

  ToyotaThon…You get it.

  Such is the case with preseason college basketball rankings. Pathetically, utterly meaningless.

   Michigan State, one of the nation’s premier programs, came into the season with its first-ever preseason No.1 ranking under coach Tom Izzo. That lasted all of one game.

  The Spartans were upended by No.2 Kentucky, 69-62, Tuesday night in the Champions Classic in The Garden. No. 4 Duke technically upset No.3 Kansas, 68-66, in the other game.

“There’s a chance we could be ranked No. 1 for the first time in the history of our school to start out the season, which means — unfortunately — nothing,” Izzo said at the team’s media day.

Why the sport continues this tradition isn’t a mystery. The angst of the rankings makes for a lot of headlines and handwringing. A lot of diehard college hoop fans don’t start paying attention until January so this is good for the sport – theoretically.

The coach of the team picked No.1 usually reacts in one of two ways:

Exasperated indignation: “Obviously no one has seen us practice. If they did, we might not be in the Top 25.”

Or, outright dismissal: “Doesn’t mean a thing. If we’re No.1 at the end of the season, then I’ll be excited.”

The early rankings are more meaningless than ever, fortunately, because they don’t matter when it comes time to select the 68 teams that make the NCAA Tournament.

The NCAA, masters of making the simple complicated, introduced the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) last season. Although it relies too much on analytics for my taste, it is as objective as an IRS accountant.

The NET is comprised of five valuations – team value index, net efficiency, winning percentage, adjusted win percentage and scoring margin.

The team value index rewards teams that beat good teams. It takes into account the opponent, location and outcome.

Net efficiency is a team’s offensive efficiency minus its defensive efficiency. Waaay to nerdy for me.

Winning percentage is just that.

Adjusted win percentage factors in location of games and result.  A road win is worth 1.4. A home loss is -1.4. A neutral site loss, such as the Champions Classic, is +1 or -1

Scoring margin is a team’s total points minus its opponent’s points. The winning margin was capped at 10 points per game so it doesn’t matter if the Spartans beat Binghamton by 12 or 50 in its next game. (Disclaimer: author is a Stony Brook grad).

So what did we learn about the nation’s top four  ranked teams. Oops, those rankings.

Izzo has decided to challenge the best player on what might be his best team. After guard Cassius Winston scored a game-high 21 points (1-of-7 on 3’s) and had just four assists, Izzo had this to say to ESPN.

 “Cassius was a little tired tonight,” he said. “I was surprised because he’s in really good shape.”

 Calipari said he didn’t start freshman Tyrese Maxey because he wanted his five-star recruit to come off the bench firing. Maxey had a game-high 26 points on 7-of-12 shooting. More impressive is that the freshman got to the line 10 times in his first college game, making nine.

His 3 with a minute left proved to be the game winner. Don’t expect Maxey to be coming off the bench for long.

“What I saw today is what I saw in high school,” Calipari said. “I [had] not seen it to this point. I’m in practice, where’s the sniper that I recruited? … But the two days prior to this, all I talked about was you be that sniper — play. We need you to get baskets for us.”

Duke has been a perennial power under Coach K because of one word – defense. Yes, teams usually look bad on offense this early in the season but that doesn’t excuse the 28 turnovers Kansas committed.

 If the Dukies, who shot 35.9 percent from the field (Kansas shot 46-percent0 weren’t this relentless on defense, they don’t eke out the two-point win. Which means Duke’s offense has a loooong way to go. Freshman Cassius Stanley was the only Duke player to shoot 50-percent or better from the field.

‘Overall, we were able to stay fairly fresh defensively,’’ said Krzyzewski. “And that’s gonna have to be a key for our basketball team.”

Bill Self certainly wasn’t laughing on the inside after those 28 turnovers. When asked if it was a positive sign that his Jayhawks only lost by two, he quipped, “I guess if you are Tony Robbins you could look at it that way.”

Kansas has NBA-type height in the 7-foot Uduke Azubike, 6-10 David McCormack, 6-9

Silvio De Soussa, 6-8  Tristain Enaruna and 6-5 Marcus Garrett.  The Jayhawks outrebounded Duke, 40-30.

But if the Jayhawks don’t get better point guard play, that height gets negated. Devon Dotson (six turnovers, one assist) was outplayed by Duke’s Tre Jones (seven assists, three turnovers).

Beltran, Perfect For the Mets by Rich Mancuso/The New York Extra

NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 04: Carlos Beltran poses for pictures after being introduced as the next manager of the New York Mets during a press conference at Citi Field on November 4, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Truth is Carlos Beltran never left New York. We know the one-time New York Met was an all-star during his playing days at Shea Stadium signing that lucrative seven-year $119 million dollar deal after the 2004 season.

 Monday morning at Citi Field, he said  “I can’t wait to rewrite our story with the New York Mets.”

file photo Neil Miller /The New York Extra 2019

Now the reality of the Carlos Beltran story begins, not as the player but the manager who will begin to guide the Mets in 2020.   He now gets that opportunity as the 22nd manager in franchise history and there was never a doubt he was coming home.

 Beltran, a nine-time All-Star, World Series champion with the Houston Astros, three-time Gold Glove winner and American League Rookie of the Year, said the Mets were the only team he considered to be a first time manager.

“His familiarity with New York City, his familarity with the Mets, his understanding of how to cope with expectations , adversity and success all factored into it,” said Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen.

02/04/19 truck sendoff day at citifield for the NY Mets, queens ny Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen talks to fans at the truck send off today at Citifield File photo by Neil Miller/The New York Extra 2019

Van Wagenen said, Beltran wanted this opportunity. He was the finalist of three, but that first impression was being a players’ manager, Not that his predecessor, Mickey Calalway, wasn’t that type, but Van Wagenen obviously wanted the manager of his choice.

And what he said during the long interview process secured the deal. He desired to be a players’ manager and he will.

But that does not matter now. Carlos Beltran is home. He never left New York, retained his residence here. He learned more working under Yankees GM Brian Cashman the past two years as an adviser.

New York Yankees General Manager , Brian Cashman file photo Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Cashman was one of many that gave their endorsement to hire Beltran. 

“I feel that I have more credibility to motivate the players and be there for them,” he said.”  

Today, the way the game has changed, Beltran has those tools to relate in and out of the clubhouse.

Not that Mickey Callaway, who was dismissed after two years, didn’t have that relationship with his teams. Despite what was reported, the manager’s office was always open for communication when Callaway was at the helm.

But the Mets went in another direction and this time they brought a former player home.

 Mets fans will eventually forgive Beltran for the last out in 2006 that concluded their season and failed  to get the Mets to a World Series. And they should, because those six-and-a-half years wearing Number 15 will eventually get him to the Hall of Fame when the time comes in 2020.  

Credit twitter

Omar Minaya was a key component in getting this three-year deal with an option for a fourth done. He was always a Carlos Beltran supporter and they kept in contact.

Brodie listened to Minaya, the former GM  who signed Beltran in his free agent year. Beltran had another supporter, former Kansas City Royals GM Allard Baird, assistant to Van Wagenen who delivered Beltran to the Major Leagues.

 Beltran ended his career as the fifth player to reach both 400 home runs and 300 stolen bases, and just the fourth switch hitter with 400 home runs.

And this from Brodie Van Wagenen, “It was Carlos’ strengths that won the day. His ability to relate to young players, very few people have that ability to do that and walk in a room.”

07/24/19 San Diego Padres vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens NY #36 Mickey Callaway talks to the press before the game Neil Miller /The New York Extra

Yet this could be the most significant move made by Van Wagenen. A year on the job, he did not hire Mickey Callaway two years ago. He wanted his own manager and now he has one that comes from the family.

And if the Beltran hire does not work, Brodie Van Wagenen will have failed again in the eyes of Mets fans who want that commitment to win and play baseball in October.

But for now, the Carlos Beltran era once again begins in New York. The first Latino manager for the franchise and in New York baseball has a lot of work to do beginning Tuesday morning.

A coaching staff and lots of organizational meetings before the first pitch next March are on the agenda. More so the story, as Beltran said, is to win. And he can’t wait to rewrite the story.


Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Beltran Will Have to Learn to Drive Fast

04/06/16 Houston Astros vs N.Y.Yankees at Yankee Stadium Bronx N.YNew York Yankees right fielder Carlos Beltran #36 at batting practice today File photo Neil Miller / The/New York Extra

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely – John Dalberg-Acton.

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

 The Mets have hired a manager that has never managed before.

Carlos Beltran isn’t the first to make this jump. Aaron Boone has been pretty darn impressive since taking over the Yankees. Yes, Boone inherited a team replete with talent, resources and culture, but there is a long list of coaches/managers that have failed in similar scenarios.

09/19/15 N.Y.Yankees vs N.Y.Mets at Citifield Queens N.Y. New York Yankees lead 3-0 after 2 innings New York Yankees right fielder Carlos Beltran #36 hits a 3 run homer in the 1st innning File photo Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Beltran’s Mets should have a solid corps of talent but we don’t know what resources the Wilpons are willing to invest in this team. And the culture of the Mets has been one of dysfunction.

10/04/16 New York Mets wild card work out day jeff wilpon at work out today File photo Neil Miller / The New York Extra
File Photo Neil Miller /The New York Extra

 Enter Brodie Van Wagenen who the Mets hired last season as GM despite the fact that he had no front office experience. The results have been mixed.

Van Wagenen made several aggressive moves (some think too aggressive) acquiring Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz and Marcus Stroman. The Mets were in the playoff race until the final two weeks of the season and it was electric.

02/04/19 truck sendoff day at citifield for the NY Mets, queens ny File photo Neil Miller/The New York Extra Mets gn brodie van wagoner talks to fans at the truck send off today at citifield

 Van Wagenen seems to have been granted tremendous power by the Wilpons. The question is, is it unchecked power? Is it the limitless power the Mets will be paying for if Van Wagenen’s ‘Forward Charge!” approach doesn’t work?  

Some of the most notorious military leaders in history have led their troops to disaster. George Custer, who graduated at the bottom of his class from West Point, led the 7th Calvary to disaster in the Battle of Little Bighorn. James Brudenell, the earl of Cardigan, lost everything but his sweater when he ordered the charge of the light brigade.

The GM with no previous management experience has hired a manager with no managing experience.

Risky? Sure.

Exciting? Yep.

Beltran only wanted to coach the Mets, and, according to published reports, did not interview for any other openings.

As is the case with Boone, Beltran, who retired in 2017, should relate to the players.

File photo Neil Miller /The New York Extra

There were eight managerial openings after last season. Six have been filled. Beltran is the only minority. MLB needs to look at that because fair or unfair (read, unfair) Beltran might face extra scrutiny and certainly more attention. If he succeeds it bolsters the case for more minorities to be hired.

Beltran is walking into a unique scenario. For the first time since 2016, the Mets will enter a season with legit expectations to make the playoffs.

Van Wagenen has shown his desire to floor the accelerator, which means Beltran first ride will be in the fast lane.

This makes the Mets, with slugger Pete Alonzo and a terrific rotation, a must-watch.

08/05/19 Miami Marlins vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny #20 pete alonso celebrates on a go ahead homer in the 7th innning Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Start your engines Mets fans. The Mets might be the most intriguing story in baseball next season.

Lindy’s “Safe ” Halloween

A safe alternative for Trick or Treat hosted by Lindenhurst High School by Neil Miller/The New York Extra

A young princess rides in her carriage today Neil Miller/The New York Extra 2019

A tradition in Lindenhurst, a safe Halloween party is thrown every year by the students and staff at Lindenhurst High School.This year was no exception as the community gathered in the halls and classrooms to enjoy a fun alternative for their families instead of going door to door in the streets.

There were games, face painting and lots of candy given out. Families of every size and type enjoyed the event. Most of all there were the very creative outfits designed by all who attended today. Long Island Natives always seem to have the ability to find new and fun ways to spend their holidays!

Starting Tonight, Nets Must Show They got the Message

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

MEMPHIS, TN – OCTOBER 27: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets shoots the ball against the Memphis Grizzlies on October 27, 2019 at FedExForum in Memphis Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

If the NBA season ended today, the Brooklyn Nets would not make the playoffs as would the Golden State Warriors and the Portland Trail Blazers.

Folly, of course. The Nets have another 79 games so the above statement probably will turn out to be ridiculous.

Here’s what is not ridiculous: If the Nets don’t learn from their 134-133 OT loss to the Memphis Grizzlies then they are staring at a season of struggle.

The Grizzlies are in full rebuild, just as the Nets once were. Few teams have written a better rebuild story than Brooklyn. Through the smart workings of GM Sean Marks and positive energy of coach Kenny Atkinson, the Nets have risen from doormat to one of the most intriguing teams in the league.

credit twitter

And when Kevin Durant returns from his surgically repaired Achilles tendon, there’s a real chance this franchise can win its first-ever NBA title. But not if they don’t a few things.

The Nets dug a 14-point hole in Memphis but rallied to take the lead. They couldn’t hold a late eight-point lead. They allowed the Grizzlies to shoot 48.5-percent from the field and 42.4-percent on 3’s.

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 “We could never get stops,” Atkinson told reporters after the loss. “I don’t know how many straight possessions they scored, but I never felt like we could get the requisite stops to win this game.

“It started in the first quarter when we gave them 14 free throws, a lot of silly mistakes, putting them on the line. Got in a hole again, down 14. We could look at the end and say this and that, but really we didn’t deserve to win the game.”

That’s as honest and accurate an assessment as you’ll ever read.

Atkinson’s words, “Really we didn’t deserve to win the game,” might find a place in the Nets training facility. This team won 42 games and made the playoffs last season because, more often than not, they deserved to win. They outworked, outhustled, out-defended and out-willed the opposition on many nights.

It’s not easy to do. But it’s a little easier when teams view you as the new kid on the block. Before last season’s resurgence the Nets won 69 games over the previous three seasons.

A lot of eyes turned toward the Nets last year. And then, of course, came the Lotto free agency trifecta of Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan. Even knowing that Durant will likely miss the season, the addition of Irving along with the development of young players make the Nets a must-watch team.

No longer will opposing teams see ‘Brooklyn’ on the schedule and crack a smile. Nope, you better come ready to play, unless, of course the Nets do not, as was the case in Memphis.

Every team that builds toward a championship run has to learn this lesson, learn what it’s like to have to come be at your best every night because that ‘target on the back’ cliché’ holds a lot of merit.

 “We digressed a little bit where just individual pride, keeping your man in front of you, simple sort of backside rotations whatever it might be, just sort of a little bit off at this point,” Joe Harris told reporters. “It starts with taking individual ownership and being able to guard your man.”

Starting with Wednesday night’s home game against the Indiana Pacers, the Nets need to get back to doing that. They need to fully grasp that with greater expectations come greater challenge every night.

If the Nets do that, they will be one of the better NBA stories. If not, what seemed ridiculous in October may be of real concern in April.

Will Jones, Darnold Survive Their Inept Franchises

Robbins Nest

East Rutherford, N.J., Monday, October 21, 2019. Jets QB Sam Darnold fumbles the ball while being sacked by John Simon of the Patriots. (Photo by David L. Pokress)

By Lenn Robbins

This might not be fair to Daniel Jones. It surely isn’t fair to Sam Darnold.

09/29/19 Washington Redskins vs N.Y. Giants at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. #8 Dan Jones right and #10 Eli Manning on the bencg in todays game

But this is one of many burdens that come with playing in a media market that hoists the Empire State Building on one shoulder and the Chrysler Building on the other.

Heavy load.

Jones, the sixth player taken in the 2019 NFL Draft, has started a mere six games in this, his rookie season. Some already are wondering if he has a better chance of developing into a franchise quarterback than Darnold.

Darnold, the third player picked in last year’s draft, made the 17th start of his career in Sunday’s 29-15 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. He’s 22 years old, which means there’s a lot of progressing still to come, hopefully positive.

Unless, of course he’s not broken before he can reach his potential, which is the bigger concern than which quarterback is playing better now.

Darnold posted a three-interception game for the second straight week. This time there was no talk of supernatural sightings as was the case in last week’s 33-0 loss to the Patriots.

East Rutherford, N.J., Sunday, October 13, 2019. Sam Darnold passing against the Cowboys. (The New York Extra/David L. Pokress)

Darnold, who missed time with mono, has thrown eight picks in four games, equal to the number of picks Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson have combined to throw in 31 games.

Darnold’s numbers for the season are about as bad as bad can be. His rating is 33.7. Mitch Trubisky, who just barely avoided a benching, is 35.8.

 Darnold hasn’t been good. But he’s been accountable and unflappable. He also seems to be flying this Jets team solo. Ted Stryker had a better co-pilot.

The passing attack has been pathetic because, really, who does Darnold have as targets? The offense, overall, is impotent because defenses are sitting on Le’Veon Bell. And the coaching has been, at best baffling and at worst, incompetent.

The Jets go for two when they should take the point after. Clock management is as baffling as Daylight Savings time before smartphones did the change automatically for us.

  Jones threw four touchdown passes and no interceptions in the Giants’ 31-26 loss to the Lions. His QB rating is 55.2 and he’s thrown more touchdowns (10) than interceptions (7). But it’s not that black and white.

09/29/19 Washington Redskins vs N.Y. Giants at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. #8 Dan jones throws in the 3rd quarter today

  Jones has an elite running back and an upper tier tight end and the Giants might have plan. On Monday, they acquired defensive tackle Leonard Williams from the Jets for a 3rd round pick in 2020 and a 5th round pick in 2021 that could become a fourth rounder if the former No. 6 overall pick in 2015 signs an extension with Big Blue.

That’s another top Jets pick that didn’t pan out but what’s to be expected with the turnover in management and coaches that occurs so frequently and illogically. They always seem to be going one-step forward, three steps back.

The Giants haven’t been much better. The Nate Solder hasn’t been nearly the player he was in New England. The defense is toothless. Williams already is penciled in as a starter before going through a practice.

10/21/19 Patriots vs Jets at metlife stadium east rutherford nj Head coach Adam Gase looks dejected during the 4th quarter tonite Neil Miller ?The New York Extra

Jets coach Adam Gase told reporters on Monday that in one 13-pass sequence on Sunday, Darnold was sacked, hit or touched on nine attempts.

Jones faces a similar challenge. He’s been sacked 21 times in seven games. Darnold’s been sacked 15 times in four games.

The question isn’t who will become the better quarterback. The question is will both quarterbacks be broken down wrecks abandoned on the side of a county road by the time their teams have a winning roster.

NEST EGG: Lamar Jackson is averaging 6.9 yards per carry. No running back with at least 100 carries is averaging more than 5.5 (Nick Chubb). The Baltimore quarterback has rushed 83 times. The closest comparison is San Fran’s Matt Breida who is averaging 5.3 yards on 84 carries.

New England Patriots vs New York Jets 10/21/19, a photo gallery by David L. Pokress ,staff photographer ,The New York Extra

Jets Make it Official: It’s Been a Sad Week in NY Sports

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10/21/19 Patriots vs Jets at metlife stadium east rutherford nj #14 Sam Darnold reacts after losing a high snap for a safety in tonites game Neil Miller/ The New York Extra

By Lenn Robbins

What a sad time it is for professional sports in New York. So sad.

The Jets put a rotten cherry on a spoiled sundae Monday night with an utterly inept performance against the New England Patriots. Sam Darnold, hailed a week ago when he returned from mono, needed noise canceling headphones to dull the stereo boos that rained down on him in the fourth quarter of what turned out to be a 33-0 embarrassing loss at MetLife Stadium.

That non-effort followed Daniel Jones getting sacked eight times in a 27-21 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, which followed the Yankees getting eliminated from the ALCS in the most gut-retching fashion, which followed the Red Bulls quick exit from the MLS playoffs.

The NHL season is young but the Rangers are in last place in the Metropolitan Division, trailing the Devils by two points at the start of the night. The vagabond Islanders have won four straight to erase a 1-3 start.

The NBA season is about to start, much to the chagrin of Knicks’ fans. The Brooklyn Nets can be a playoff team but can’t make a deep run without Kevin Durant.

What’s next? The New York Marathon gets snowed out? The ball doesn’t drop on New Year’s Eve. Hey, it’s a ball.

Darnold had his best day as a pro last week, throwing for 338 yards on 23-of-31 passing with two touchdowns, one interception and a 113.8 QB rating in a sunning 24-22 upset of the Cowboys.

He looked as lost as a rookie a week later.His QB rating, suggest you sit, was 3.7. He threw four interceptions and lost a fumble. He completed just 11-of-32 passes for 96 yards. The Jets had 154 yards of total offense.

The ultimate indignity for the Jets was the chant of “Brady! Brady!” reverberating through MetLife in the fourth quarter, when the Jets fans  had given over their house to New England faithful.

There were other humiliations. Former Pats receiver Demaryious Thomas dropped everything he could get his hands off. Former Pats return man Braxton Berrios muffed a punt late in the fourth.

Brady watched the final few minutes from the sideline after completing 31-of-45 passes for 249 yards with one touchdown and one interception. When’s the last time you read this:

10/21/19 Patriots vs Jets at metlife stadium east rutherford nj #12 Tom Brady thows in tonites game Neil Miller/The New York Extra
10/21/19 Patriots vs Jets at metlife stadium east rutherford nj #12 Tom Brady{ center of frame} celebrates a Pats touchdown in tonites game Neil Miller /The New York Extra

 If the Patriots offense can catch up to its defense, this team will be unbeatable in the playoffs.

Here’s the worst part of this latest Jets debacle. Adam Gase, quarterback whisperer and hot young coach (41), didn’t have the Jets ready to play a preseason game, no less the marquee Monday Night Football matchup.

10/21/19 Patriots vs Jets at metlife stadium east rutherford nj Head coach Adam Gase looks dejected during the 4th quarter tonite Neil Miller ?The New York Extra

How sad is that? How sad is the state of professional sports in metropolitan area? So sad.

Did the Yankees Lose the ALCS at the Trade Deadline?

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10/17/17 Houston Astros vs New York Yankees at Yankee stadium bronx ny ALCS Game #4 photos by Neil Miller/The New York Extra New York Yankees Brian Cashman Gen Manager

By Lenn Robbins

As you drown your sorrows in whatever libation you prefer at Sunday brunch or during Sunday Night Football, no doubt there will be lively discussion and debate as to how and why the Yankees lost this ALCS to the Astros, 4-2, especially after winning Game 1 in Houston.

Was it in the top of the 11th inning of Game 2 when Gary Sanchez, owner of one of the most retched postseason performances in Yankees history, struck out looking with runners on first and second?

Or was in Game 3 when the Yankees had runners in scoring position in four of the first five innings and couldn’t get that one key hit off a less-than-dominating Gerritt Cole?

Or perhaps it was Game 5 when the Yankees had bases loaded in the fifth inning after knocking out starter Zack Greinke. But Houston’s Pressly struck out Edwin Encarnacion.

One can even make a case that it was Saturday night’s, 6-4, season-ending heartbreak of a loss in which Jose Altuve’s two-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth trumped DJ LeMahieu’s two-run, game tying homer in the top of the frame.

The Yankees got what they wanted, or at least what their strength should have been – a bullpen game – words that make the fingers cramp, but that’s a discussion for another day.  

08/15/19 Cleveland Indians vs New York Yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny #17 aaron boone takes #57 chad green out of the game after giving up 5 runs in the 1st innning

Every game the Yankees lost in the series was winnable, a testament to the depth and resilience of this 2019 team. Despite Sanchez’s batting slump and suspect fielding, Adam Ottavino’s October struggles, Giancarlo Stanton’s battered body and Aroldis Chapman’s hanging slider, the Yankees could have beaten a healthier and more balanced Houston Astros team.

As to why the Yankees didn’t win takes us back to July 31st when the trade line came and went and the Yankees had done nothing to improve their starting rotation. The belief that Luis Severino would return after a season on the injured list and suddenly bolster the rotation in October was at best ridiculously optimistic, at worst, folly.

Only GM Brian Cashman knows exactly what potential deals were on the table. He decided that the asking price for any of the starters that were available was too high. He’s earned that right. Anyone that signed LeMahieu as a free agent and assembled this kind of quality depth has certainly earned that right.

But in a city that judges whether a season is a success or failure in championships or bust, the season busted with Saturday night’s loss.

“No matter how many games we won in the regular season, this is a failure,” Aaron Judge told reporters after the crushing end the season. “I think about the season as a whole, guys getting injured, guys getting back, a lot of ups and downs, I think about missed opportunities and some guys I might not play with again …”

Cashman and Co. need to think about upgrading the starting pitcher. Houston’s Cole, 29, who would have pitched today had there been a Game 7, leads the list of free agent pitchers but the cost will be stunningly high.

Steven Strasburg, 31, will be available if he opts out of a deal that will pay him $100 million over the next four seasons. Zack Wheeler, 30, is on the market but the Mets should be ashamed if they let him cross from Queens to the Bronx.

It’s easy to sit back and suggest how much money a team should dole out but this is the Yankees after all. They have more automaker sponsors than some teams have sponsors.

If the Yankees don’t want to feel the devastation they experienced this October next October, the pitching has to be better. Just look at the starting pitching of the two teams that will play for the world series – Houston and Washington.

Next round’s on me.

Big Maple’s Biggest Performance Lifts Yanks

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By Lenn Robbins

Credit twitter

   The Yankees are on a plane back to Houston because on the biggest stage, pitching in the biggest game of the season, The Big Maple came up with the biggest performance of his career.

  James Paxton, went pitch for pitch with the Astros Justin Verlander, a strong candidate to win his second Cy Young, and did exactly what the Yankees were hoping for when they acquired the him from the Mariners in November of 2018.

“He’s got to go out and pitch well and set the tone for us,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters. “Because we want to get on that plane to Houston now, and that starts with Pax.”

You can just hear the flight attendant say, “Please bring your seat backs forward and place your service trays in the upright and locked position,” after Paxton held the Astros to just one run over six innings. He struck out nine, walked four and threw 112 pitches.

Verlander also was good. He struck out nine, didn’t walk a batter and threw 105 pitches. But two of those pitches the Yankees cracked for home runs.

 After DJ LeMahieu tied the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the first, Aaron Hicks gave the Yankees the big hit they’ve been missing in this ALCS, which the Astros now lead 3-2

 Hicks crushed a three-run homer that ricocheted off the right field foul pole in the bottom of the first. Yankee Stadium exploded. Neither team could produce another run, as the Yanks won, 4-1.

  Paxton had a very solid season. He didn’t lose a game in August and September and finished the regular season with a 15-6 record and a 3.82 ERA. But his first two postseason starts were underwhelming and the Yankees, facing an elimination game with Verlander looking to slam the door, got Paxton’s performance of the season. 

“When you think of the Yankees, you think of the postseason,” Paxton told reporters. “They pride themselves on winning and that’s what we do here. I knew that I’d probably get an opportunity of pitching the postseason, and that’s what I wanted to do.

“That’s what I wanted to do when I came here, and that’s what we’re doing now. It’s been a great experience and I want to keep on going.”

The Yankees keep their season going because The Big Maple came up big.

Cole Makes Game 3 a Yanks’ Nightmare Come True

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 15: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Houston Astros celebrates retiring the side during the sixth inning against the New York Yankees in game three of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 15, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

The worst nightmare became a reality Tuesday night for the Yankees. The kind of nightmare that when you awaken, it feels real. Because it was real.

Painfully real.

The Yankees, for the second straight game, faced a dominating Houston starter and they were shut down like the ‘L’ Train on weekends. Gerritt Cole held the Bombers scoreless for seven innings, allowing just four hits in a 4-1 win in Game 3 of the ALCS in Yankee Stadium.

The Astros lead the series 2-1 which doesn’t seem daunting until you consider this:

The team that wins Game 3 in a series tied 1-1, has a 77.1-percent chance of closing it out, according to SABR.org.

The Yankees seem to have no clue – not many teams do – of knowing how to solve Justin Verlander and Cole. Cole, 29, is unbeaten in 25 starts dating back to his last loss on May 22.  He’s 3-0 this postseason with an 0.40 ERA.

Whereas the Yankees hope to get 4-6 innings of solid starting pitching and then turn to the bullpen, one of the deepest in baseball, the Astros count on their starters to go 6-7 innings.

Verlander went six and two-thirds in Sunday night’s Game 2 victory, allowing two earned runs while striking out seven. Yankees starter James Paxton lasted just two and one-third innings.

Luis Severino, the Yankees starter Tuesday night, gave up a 420-foot home run to Jose Altuve, the second batter of the game. He lasted four and one-third innings allowing two home runs and yielding three walks.

“I don’t need to go out there and strike out 300 guys or win 20 games,’’ Severino told reporters earlier in the week. “I just need to go out there and match his stuff.”

He didn’t do that, which isn’t an indictment of the man considering he missed most of the season with shoulder and lat injuries.

The Yankees (and Astros) haven’t announced their starters for Wednesday night’s Game 4. Heavy rains are expected hours before, during and after Wednesday night’s 8:08 p.m. first pitch.

If the Nationals close out their NLCS against the Cardinals, we might see a paradigm shift in pitching philosophy. Teams have become bullpen-heavy.

Washington and Houston boast robust rotations and that has proven to be the more successful approach this postseason. The Yankees might have more time to think about that than they had hoped.

By winning Game 3 the Astros have guaranteed themselves of returning to Houston for Games 6 and 7 if necessary. Verlander and Cole could each make another start.

The nightmare has become reality.

Jones shows he belongs in the NFL by Neil Miller/The New York Extra

If there were any doubts about Dan Jones being a NFL caliber quarterback, they were erased by this past Sundays work. With touchdowns by passes, and setting up a run for Le’Von Bell, it showed that Jones has the tools to compete in the NFL.

East Rutherford, N.J., Sunday, October 13, 2019. Le’Veon Bell of the Jets slips the grasp of Cowboys linebacker Joe Thomas. (The New York Extra/David L. Pokress)

Although the Cowboys made a late run to try and win the game, marked by several penalties in the final drive,the Jets prevailed for their first win this season.

East Rutherford, N.J., Sunday, October 13, 2019. Sam Darnold passing against the Cowboys. (The New York Extra/David L. Pokress)

The Hard Part Has Yet to Come For the Yankees

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#18 Didi Gregorius hits a grand slam in Game #2 of the ALDS Neil Miller/The New York Extra

By Lenn Robbins

After the Yankees swept the Twins in such dominating fashion in their ALDS, the first thought before the first Champagne cork went flying was, “How the hell did this team win 101 games and crush 307 home runs?”

The Twins couldn’t have slain Bambi no less the dragon known as the Yankees

 “We were outplayed for three games, and it’s OK to acknowledge that,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli told reporters. “They pitched better than us, they swung the bats better than us, and they defended better than us.”

Yep. Yep. And yep.

07/31/18 Baltimore Oriolesvs New York Yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka #19 pitches in the 2nd innning photos by NeilMiller/The New York Extra
04/21/16 Oakland Athletics vs N.Y.Yankees at Yankee Stadium Bronx N.Y.New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino #40 pitches in the 2nd innning photos by Neil Miller/The New York Extra

The three Yankees starters – James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino – combined for a dazzling 2.63 ERA. The deepest bullpen in baseball did its job. Didi Gregorius broke out of his slump – bigtime. Giancarlo Stanton, injured virtually the entire season, worked out four walks in three games. Every button manager Aaron Boone pushed – Brett Gardner, Cameron Maybin – was a winner.

#11 Brett Gardner file photo Neil Miller/ The New York Extra
New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone

 Now the Yankees wait to see if Houston can finish off Tampa Bay Tuesday night or if the Bombers get more rest while the Astros and Rays play a Game 5 in Texas.

More rest? Who needs stinking rest? The Yankees seem to be in such a good place after dusting off the Twins, 23-7 the aggregate score in three games, you’d think rest was the last thing they want.

But the Yankees should take this good fortune and sleep on it.

The next round can’t be as easy as the last round.

The Astros, who eliminated the Yankees in the 2017 ALCS, have thought of themselves as the best team in baseball the last three seasons and it’s hard to argue  with their  311-175 record.

 The Rays have gone head-to-head with the Yankees in the AL East. They don’t see Game of Thrones dragons in the Yankees dugout but mere mortals that can be held in check by their elite starting pitching.

“It doesn’t really matter to me who we play to be honest,’’ Gardner told reporters. “If we play our game and play well, we’ll win. And if we don’t, we won’t. It’s as simple as that. Rays or Astros, it doesn’t matter. If we play the way we’re capable of playing, we don’t have anything to worry about.”

Yes, they do.

Both the Astros and Rays have much better pitching than the Twins. And the Astros have a relentless lineup. They were 4-3 against the Yankees this season  and would have a Game 7 in Houston. The Yankees bested the Rays, 12-7.


Whereas the Twins had no postseason history of success against the Bombers, the Astros have that win in 2017, a fact Aaron Judge has mentioned at times.

“I mention it as something to fuel us, but it doesn’t matter who we face going forward,” Judge said. “If we continue to play our game, if we continue to do that, we’ll be where we want to be.”

Perhaps. But it won’t be as easy as those polite folks from Minnesota made it.

Yankees lead Twins 8-1 after 5 innings by Neil Miller/The New York Extra

#18 Did Gregorius hits a grand slam in the 3rd innning

The Yankees are leading game#2 of the ALDS on a big 3rd innning of 7 runs scored, capped by a Grand Slam by #18 Didi Gregorius

#18 Didi Gregorius hits a grand slam in the 3rd inning/Neil Miller / The New York Extra
#21 Tyler Duffey hangs his head after #18 Didi Gregorius hits a grand slam in the 3rd innning

Twins Turn to Former Uber Driver to Save the Season

Robbins Nest

#25=6 D.J. Le Mathieu hits a solo homer in Game #1 of the ALDS Neil Miller ? The New York Extra

By Lenn Robbins

The Yankees are an acquired taste – kind of like rooting for the lions in ancient Rome, or the bulls in Pamplona or the top one-percent to make more money.

They do not throttle the opponent with dominating pitching. They don’t play small ball (although they did pull off a double steal Friday night).

The Yankees feel you out for a few rounds, uh innings, and just when the legs get a little wobbly, they unleash a barrage of fury that turns the Stadium into the only insane asylum one needs a ticket to enter.

Yankee fans pund the right field wall in excitement in Game #1 of the ALDS

Such was the case in Game 1 of the ALDS. The Yankees, who hit 306 home runs this season, faced the Twins, who hit 307 homers. Two plodding heavyweights trying to set up the big inning.

The Yankees did it twice, putting up a three spot in the third and another in the seventh as they all but KO’d the Twins in a 10-4 win that went the distant, distance, four hours and 15 minutes.

“We had a lot of opportunities to score with a lot of guys on base,” D.J. LeMahieu told reporters. “We did a really good job against their pitchers. I feel like every one of their pitchers that came in pretty much had tough innings against us, hard-fought innings.”

Yankees #26 D.J, Le Matiey hits a 3 rbi double in Game#1 of the ALDS

In other words, the Yankees pummeled the Twins physically, and more important, emotionally. The Twins entered this series under pinstripe spell.

The Yankees have ended the Twins’ World Series dreams in 2003, 04, 09, ’10 and ’17. If ever Minnesota needed a win in the opening game of a series, it was Friday night against the Yankees.

“The first one is always the biggest game,” Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge told reporters.

Perhaps. The Yankees have a way of making every game big, bad and bruising. Friday night’s affair lasted a brutal four hours and 15 minutes. Commentator John Smoltz said in the bottom of the 5th that it felt like the 8th or 9th inning.

This is not how baseball has to be played today. The Astros, behind the remarkable Justin Verlander, needed a mere three hours and 25 minutes to snuff the Rays, 6-2.

The Nationals put in less time, beating the playoff-cursed Clayton Kershaw, 4-2, in three hours and 17 minutes. And the Braves barely broke a sweat in being the Cardinals, 3-0, in two hours and 46 minutes.

But this is how the Yankees play. They believe in their bullpen and they force the opponent to believe in theirs. The Yankees and Twins combined to use 11 relievers.

The Twins figure to need a lot of relief in Game 2. Randy Dobnak, 24, the former Uber driver who got married last Saturday, faces Masahiro Tanaka. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli tabbed Dobnak because he has a 52.9 percent ground ball rate which would be impressive if he had pitched more than 28.1 innings.

“It’s been the most amazing week of my life for sure,” Dobnak told reporters. “Getting married, now the postseason start. It doesn’t get any better than this.”

We’ll see about that. Dobnak may not be entering the Coliseum chased by bulls but he might feel that way after about four hours and 25 minutes.

What if the Mets and Yankees Get it Right?

07/24/19 San Diego Padres vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny #36 Mickey callaway talks to the press before the game Neil Miller / The New York Extra

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

Let this be the last October for a long time that we don’t find ourselves in this New York baseball Groundhog Dog.

Like the movie, we’ve lived this scenario over and over again. But whereas Bill Murray finally gets it right and wins Andie MacDowell’s heart, the Mets and Yankees almost never get it right at the same time.

So here we are, the Yankees about to begin their pursuit of a 28th World Series. The Mets about to hire their sixth manager in the last 16 seasons after firing Mickey Callaway on Thursday.

This is the most important decision of Brodie Van Wagenen’s young GM career. He traded the future for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Then he doubled down and acquired Marcus Stroman at the trade deadline.

file photo Robinson Cano Neil Miller/ The New York Extra

The Mets weren’t an afterthought in September for the first time since 2016. They should be a legitimate postseason contender in 2020 but that window isn’t likely to remain open for long with the depleted farm system.

Van Wagenen needs a manager that has a win-now mentality and a New York-tough resiliency.

In his last comments before getting fired, Callaway had an interesting spin on managing, especially in this town.

“I make unpopular decisions every day, whether it’s unpopular to you guys or the players.’’ Callaway told reporters. “And every decision I make is going to be unpopular to somebody. But I make decisions based on trying to win games and trying to keep these guys motivated to win as many games as they possibly can.”

What separates the great managers from the good ones is that they can sell those unpopular decisions. They have a track record that affords them the benefit of the doubt. They have a confidence that is not cocky but fierce.

The Mets need that kind of manager to lead the way.

Which brings us to the Yankees. When Brian Cashman chose Aaron Boone, it was a bold decision that could have backfired. Boone is the poster boy for a young manager. He can relate to players while balancing analytics and feel.

10/17/17 Houston Astros vs New York Yankees at Yankee stadium bronx ny ALCS Game #4 photos by The New York Extra New York Yankees Brian Cashman Gen Manager
file photo Aaron Boone neil Miller /The New York Extra

One can’t overstate the job Cashman and Boone did this season. The injuries came like a plague and still the Yankees won 103 games and the AL East. Cashman never uttered the words, “Come and Get Us.” Or maybe he did by buying a formidable bullpen and stockpiling depth.

It seems unfair to base the success of this season on whether or not the Yankees win it all. There are other teams in the AL with just as much power and better starting pitching. That’s the contract one signs when donning pinstripes – titles or bust.

Maybe the Yankees will overcome that suspect starting pitching and you should know your way to Canyon of Heroes. And maybe Van Wagenen will get it right and the Mets will be playing in October next season. Maybe, just maybe, a subway series is in our future.

All That Matters is This: Daniel Jones is Undefeated

Robbins Nest

09/29/19 Washington Redskins vs N.Y. Giants at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. #8 Dan Jones runs for a first down in todays game Neil Miller /The New York Extra

By Lenn Robbins

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Really, the only thing one needs to know about the state of Daniel Jones as the Giants quarterback is this:

They are undefeated.

It doesn’t matter if his two victories have come against the bipolar Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the utterly dysfunctional Washington Redskins.

Nor does it matter that he threw the first two interceptions of his NFL career in Sunday’s 24-3 win over those repugnantly-named Redskins. And we’re loathe to point out that he’s the first Giants rookie QB to win his first two starts since Phil Simms in 1979, because that became one rocky ride before Bill Parcells regained his genius.

09/29/19 Washington Redskins vs N.Y. Giants at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. #8 Dan jones throws in the 3rd quarter today Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Jones is 2-0 and the Giants are 2-2, a better record than the Steelers (0-3) and the same as the Philadelphia Eagles.

We can’t say that he’s won the games he was supposed to win because, truthfully, when the Giants were 0-2, the only “winnable” game on the schedule, possibly, was the Dec. 15th home game against the Miami Dolphins, who are the first NFL team in history to tank in September.

Jones threw interceptions on back-to-back first-quarter possessions and seemed as nonplussed as a medical examiner dictating gory descriptions the mortal wounds into a recorder.

When asked if it was easy to put those two potentially catastrophic mistakes behind him, The Rookie said, “Yeah, I think you have to be able to do it.

09/29/19 Washington Redskins vs N.Y. Giants at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. #8 Dan Jones runs out of the pocket in todays game Neil Miller /The New York Extra

“If you can’t, you’re going to struggle at times because football is going to go up and down. You’re going to have good plays and bad plays. Certainly try to do it, and I think you have to be able to.”

It doesn’t matter that Jones, statistically, had a pedestrian day. He was 23-of-31 for 225 yards with one touchdown, two interceptions and a quarterback rating of 78, much better than some guy named Brady (45.9) on Sunday.

Sorry. No need to overthink this by even hinting at comparisons to Simms, Brady or, um, Nathan Peterman.

A quarterback has to do two things, and two things only:

  1. Win. Duh.
  • Get his team in the end zone, which, of course, has a direct correlation to No.1.

Jones led the Giants to touchdowns on their first two possessions. They had a 14-0 foot on the Redskins’ throat before Jay Gruden, keeper of Dan Snyder photos, started thinking of replacing Case Keenan with rookie Dwayne Haskins.

That cushion allowed Jones to get away with his first two picks and his 78 quarterback rating. The Redskins offense is about to be reported by a whistleblower so no threat there.

Jones, hailed by the Giants fans like MAGA maniacs at a Trump rally, improved to 2-0.

“Not only is he a quick learner but he’s a fast thinker,’’ Giants coach Pat Shurmur said of Jones.

Do we dare think the Giants can go to 3-0 next week against a higher quality opponent in the Vikings? No. We stay in the moment. Jones is 2-0. He’s rallied his team from 18 down one week and shook off the first two picks of his career the next.

“Getting back to 2-2, you feel good about it,’’ Jones said. “But at the same time, if we’re going to keep winning, we have to address a number of things. We have to improve a number of things as a team if we want to keep it going. I think it’s important that we understand that and like I said, keep moving forward.”

Moving forward with their undefeated quarterback.