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.


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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.

credit twitter

 “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

Robbins Nest

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?

Robbins Nest

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

Robbins Nest

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

Robbins Nest

#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.

Kyrie Irving to Reprise Roll of The Bodyguard for KD

photo by Lenn Robbins

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

Kyrie Irving has played a lot of roles in his NBA career;

Clutch shooter: It was his 25-foot 3 with 53 seconds left that brought Cleveland its first-ever NBA title.

Ridiculous scorer: There are a lot of scorers in the NBA but no guard provides more breathtaking finishes around the basket than Irving.

And now Irving has added a new role: The Bodyguard.

Irving made it blatantly clear Friday that he will protect Kevin Durant from coming back too soon from his torn Achilles tendon injury.

“A lot of people have responsibilities for why that happen on a national stage,’’ Irving said yesterday’s at the team’s Brooklyn practice facility. “We all know KD was not ready to play in that environment. We all know that, whether people want to admit or not.

“He was out 31 days … We put him out there to sell a product that came before the person, Kevin. And now I am here to protect that. I am going to be the protector and not let anyone infiltrate that circle. ‘Hey K, do you, get right. We’ll be fine.’”

Safe to say Irving won’t be getting any Christmas cards from the Warriors. He doesn’t care about that. He cares about KD and what a magical season the Nets can have in 2020-21 when Durant returns from his injury.

But first, there is the matter of this season. The Nets were one of the league’s feel-good stories last season. After a woeful start they gelled under the guidance of Kenny Atkinson, as down to earth a coach as you’ll find in any sport, and the patient planning of GM Sean Marks.

The Nets slipped into the playoffs, losing a first-round series to the Philadelphia 76ers. And then the late-night fun began.

Free agents Irving, Durant and veteran center DeAndre Jordan stunned the , and floored the Knicks, by signing with the Nets. Locker room fave Lance Thomas signed with the Nets on Friday. He will take the roster spot many assumed Durant pal Carmelo Anthony would get.

Add those four players to the existing nucleus of Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie and 3-point champ Joe Harris and as Atkinson said, “We know there are expectations.”

Expectations?! Wait til next year, when Durant is back.

There has been talk about KD returning this season. Not on Irving’s watch.

We’ve already seen the terrible results of rushing a player back. Durant missed a month of the 2019 playoffs with what was listed as a calf injury. He returned for Game 5 of the Finals against Toronto. Two minutes into the second quarter he fell to the court clutching his right calf.

“I’ll be over-patient with Kevin because I don’t want that to happen to anyone ever again especially on that type of stage where he was answering questions about whether he would be back or not. I want him to be 101 percent healthy,” Irving said.

Durant said he would be at games while he continues to rehab. Word of caution to any reporter or Nets fan that wants to know if he’ll back this season: They’ll have to go through Irving.

October Baseball is the Only Goal For Mets in 2020

Robbins Nest

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

By Lenn Robbins

The Mets playoff dream ended on Hump Day, which is perfectly fitting.

Before they took the field Wednesday night at Citi Field needing to beat the Marlins and hope the Brewers lost to the Reds, the scoreboard showed Milwaukee leading, 6-0.

The nail was being driven into the coffin.

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

It didn’t matter that Jacob deGrom turned in his latest marvelous pitching performance in a 10-3 win. He deserves to win the Cy Young for a second straight year but he would rather be pitching in October.

Which brings us to next October.

 If the Mets aren’t in the 2020 MLB playoffs the season will be a failure. For the first time since 2015, when the Mets lost the World Series to the Royals, has a season ended with so much expectation for next year.

“There are so many positives that came from this year,” slugger Pete Alonso told reporters. “We learned a lot about ourselves, and I think what we learned is that we’re gritty, we’re tough, we can compete. We have some awesome pieces, and the mentality we have, I think there’s something extremely special to come.

“When we finally put it together for 162, it’s going to be scary.”

02/04/19 truck sendoff day at citifield for the NY Mets, queens ny photos by Neil Miller sportsdaywire Mets gn brodie van wagoner talks to fans at the truck send off today at citifield

There’s no reason the Mets can’t put it together next season but it starts with this offseason. GM Brodie Van Wagenen needs to address the bullpen which had fans feeling more trepidation than if it was Grenade Giveaway Day at Citi Field.

The Mets could use more quality depth. They need to unravel the enigma that Edwin Diaz became on the flight from Seattle.

08/27/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny ny met #7Marcus Stroman reacts after giving up a 2 run homer in the 5th inning

And a decision has to be made on manager Mickey Calloway, who deserves credit for leading the Mets to that post All-Star streak that made a playoff berth a possibility, not a pipe dream.

#36 mickey calloway in the dugout in the 3rd innning

“You know, obviously I have the utmost confidence in myself,” Callaway told reporters.

Good to know. But Callaway is 159-160 in his two seasons with the Mets and made his share of head-scratching moves. Jury is out.

The Mets have the nucleus of a serious if not scary team next season. They can’t let Zack Wheeler walk in free agency. They must find a way to coexist with Noah Syndegaard, or at worst, trade him for some elite bullpen talent.

04/27/19 Milwaukee Brewers vs ny mets at citifield queens ny photos by neil miller /the ny extra New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard #34 reacts after giving up a run in the 1st innning
08/24/19 atlanta braves vs ny mets at citifield queens ny #45 zach wheeler reacts after giving p a 2 run hit in the 1st innning
08/27/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny ny met #7 Marcus Stroman pitches in the 2nd inning

A rotation of deGrom, Syndegaard, Wheeler, Steven Matz and Marcus Stroman will be as good as it gets. A lineup centered around Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, Amed Rosario and Wilson Ramous proved it can produce.

It’s time for this franchise to get over the hump.

07/24/19 San Diego Padres vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny #30 mike conforto rects after striking out with the bases loaded to end an innning

“We’re definitely not satisfied with where we’re at,” Conforto told reporters. “We want to play in October, that’s the goal. I think we have the guys in here to do it. We have to put six months of baseball together, and we didn’t do that this year.”

That’s exactly what the Mets’ mindset has to be. deGrom should win that Cy Young. Fernando Tatis was terrific but his season ended in mid-August. If Alonso tied or breaks Aaron Judge’s rookie home run record he gets my vote for Rookie of the Year.

There have been some really nice feel good moments in Queens. That Amazin streak of  15 wins in 16 games brought back memories of the 69 Miracle Mets. That team won it all. This team didn’t make the playoffs.

“Did we get to our ultimate goal and get in the playoffs?’’ asked Calloway. “No, and that stinks.”

         If the Mets don’t go deep into postseason next season, the stench will be even worse.

A Bleeping Star Is Born as Jones Rallies Giants

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

8/01/19

Sorry Lady Gaga. Apologies Bradley Cooper.

A F&$ping star has been born.

Daniel Stephen Jones III, the quarterback the Giants allegedly drafted too high, the seemingly second coming of mind-mannered Eli Manning, the old-school drop back passer, shattered all those preconceived notions on one glorious evening in Tampa.

Jones, the No.6 pick in the draft, bolted seven yards with 1:18 left for what proved to be the winning touchdown as he rallied the Giants to a 32-31 win in his first NFL start.

Afterward, after Jones had rallied the Giants from an 18-point deficit, after the rookie from Duke had run for two touchdowns and passed for two touchdowns, after he completed 23-of-36 passes for 336 yards, it was learned he dropped the ‘F’ bomb in the huddle.

Now that’s a quarterback for New York.

“(He) cussed one time,” wide receiver Russell Shepard told reporters after the game. “I ain’t never heard him scream. He started screaming and cussing. We were in the red zone and he was like, ‘Let’s f—ing score.’”

“The fact that he did that (curse) was an eye-opener because we never seen him get out of his personality. He’s very mellow, very mild-mannered individual. He doesn’t get too high or too low. To see him get like that was pretty impressive. That was the thing that propelled us offensively to keep fighting.”

The Giants had gone 55 games in which they had failed to win after trailing by 18 points or more at halftime. They trailed 28-10 and Jones had played like a rookie quarterback making his first start on the road no less.

And then the third quarter started and Jones, before our very eyes, transformed himself from a wide-eyed, overwhelmed 22-year-old rookie into a seasoned season savior. Jones completed 5-of-8 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns.

When Matt Gay yanked a 34-yard chip shot that would have ruined Jones’ debut, the Giants, led by a jumping up and down Jones, celebrated as if they had won the Super Bowl. It was only their first win of the season after two miserable losses.

“We had a chance there at the end of the game,’’ Jones said. “That’s all you can ask for, We kinda struggled to move the ball there at points and — just a great job, great job moving the ball down the field as a team. We got some guys open, and they made plays. So great job, loved the fight and loved the grit of this win.”

Lost in all this, of course, was Eli Manning, the two-time Super Bowl MVP who should be remembered as one of the franchise’s all-time greats. He was the only player on the winning sideline that knew just how impressive Jones’ performance was.

But Jones is not Eli. He just penned the first chapter in his book. Some of the words might have to be blacked out.

“I was just excited,” Jones told reporters when asked about his huddle expletive. “I don’t know exactly what happened.”

What happened is a star has been born. A F5$king star.

Mets and a Polar Bear is Stealing Yankees Spotlight

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

This is wonderful and cofounding baseball  time in this town.

The Yankees have claimed the American League East Division crown for the first time since 2012. They’ve won 100 games. They are in a panic.

The Mets (80-73) are playing meaningful games in September but they remain three and one-half games out of the Wild Card. They are euphoric.

Only in New York.

The Yankees barely had time to enjoy their division title. Domingo German was suspended for the rest of the season, including the playoffs, under MLB’s domestic violence policy. German is the Yankees winningest pitcher this season, owning an 18-4 record and a 4.03 ERA.

The Yankees were planning to use the inexperienced German out of the pen in the playoffs. They can use a boost there after Dellin Betances, who after a grueling, season-long comeback from shoulder and lat injuries, returned only to suffer a partially torn Achilles tendon and is done for the year.

This 1-2 punch has left the Yankees scrambling to figure out their postseason rotation and bullpen use. This is cause for concern on any team. In Yankees Land it’s cause for hysteria.

Long before spring training opened the Yankees had a two-ton bat weight dropped in their dugout: Win the World Series or this season is a failure. The Red Sox won it last year. The Yankees went all-in and have to win it this year.

The Mets were hoping to have a winning season. By mid-July they were on life support. Then came the ridiculous win streak and here are the Mets hoping for a playoff season.

While the Yankees were fretting over their postseason pitching options, Mets manager Mickey Calloway was tinkering with his starting-rich pitching rotation by swapping Steven Matz for Marcus Stroman in Sunday’s final of the three-game series in Cincinnati.

It’s rich enough to wonder if there’s a conspiracy theory taking place. In a season that should be a Yankees celebration the Mets are hanging around like a meddlesome yellow jacket.

Surely the Yankees are the more successful team.  But the Mets are the feel-good team. And they can feel even better courtesy of one man – Pete ‘Polar Bear’ Alonzo.

Alonzo blasted, and we mean blasted (437 feet), his 50th home run of the season Friday night in the Mets 8-1 win over the Reds. He became just the 30th player in history and the second rookie to smack 50 home runs.

The only other player to accomplishment that feat is Aaron Judge of the Yankees who set the rookie home run mark of 52 in 2017. Alonso has nine games remaining to break Judge’s record.

Wouldn’t that be the perfect itch in the Yankees’ jock? Alonso blasts his 53rd home run in the final game of the season. The Yankees are going to the playoffs. The Mets are not. But all radio talk show hosts and bar stool fans want to talk about is a guy with the nickname of Polar Bear.

Amazing, confounding – only in New York.

OBJ and Gettleman Deliver a 1-2 Knockout Punch

File photo NY Giants #10 Eli Manning Neil Miller/The NY extra copyright 2019

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

Safe to say in their storied history, the Giants have never absorbed a 1-2 punch like this.

Eli Manning, the second son of a regal football family, had become the No.1 quarterback the Giants have ever known. Two Super Bowl titles. Two Super Bowl MVPs. Zero embarrassing moments in a city that has made a fool of millions.

He was benched on Tuesday. A 2019 knockout punch.

The end of an era. Sixteen seasons, 233 games, 231 starts, 56,287 yards and 361 touchdown passes came to an end in the form of a press release.

“Eli was obviously disappointed, as you would expect, but he said he would be what he has always been, a good teammate, and continue to prepare to help this team win games,’’ coach Pat Shurmur said in a statement.

Good teammate, for sure. Better person, no doubt. Fall guy? Of course.

Manning’s benching came two days after the Giants dropped a 28-14 decision to the Buffalo Bills, a loss that dropped them to 0-2.

Has Manning been bad? Yep. Has the entire offense been bad? Yep. Has the defense been bad? Yep. Have the special teams been bad? Yep. Coaching? Yep.

Front office? Yes! Hell yes!

The 0-2 start is not an indictment of Manning. It’s a referendum on how lacking this roster is in elite talent.

With the exception of Saquon Barkley, is there one difference maker, one player that keeps an opposing offensive and/or defensive coordinator downing Red Bulls at 3 a.m.? No.

The only other game-changing offensive player the Giants had was on full display Monday night in MetLife Stadium, the building Big Blue calls home, in the Cleveland Browns 23-3 win over the Jets.

Odell Beckham Jr., the most exciting wide receiver in the game, was traded away because GM David Gettleman didn’t believe he fit the culture in East Rutherford.

That culture is in shambles today.

The Giants are the Miami Dolphins of the north.

One day after Beckham torched the Jets for 161 yards receiving and one touchdown, the Giants decided this was the best day to bench Manning in favor of the player that was drafted as his replacement.

Daniel Jones will start at quarterback Sunday when the Giants play at Tampa Bay. A road game. Nothing like giving a rookie his first start on the road.

We all knew, Eli knew, that sooner or later the Giants would turn to Jones, the No.6 pick in the 2019 draft. So it begs the question, ‘Why didn’t Jones get more than some mop up time in these first two games?”

Why has he only been getting backup reps in practice and splitting time with Alex Tanney on the scout team?

The Giants weren’t going to win these first two games. Not with this roster; not with this management.

It doesn’t matter if Jones turns out to be a franchise quarterback. Given his skill set as a pocket passer, he will never provide the jaw-dropping, you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me moments OBJ dropped on us, not once, but twice.

He made one of his patented one-handed, ‘did you see that?!’ catches in the first quarter for 33 yards. He turned a short slant into the longest catch and run of his NFL career, an 89-yarder.

If OBJ was still a Giant even he couldn’t have prevented a third straight 0-2 start. This franchise has bigger problems – a GM that claims to have an impressive resume; ownership that cares but is stuck in the past, reacting instead of proacting.

The Giants should have taken a page out of the New York Rangers playbook. In February of 2018, management sent fans an email stating they were building for the future. Translation: The current season will be an audition for future roles.

That’s what the rest of this season is for Big Blue. Jones’ audition for the lead role begins Sunday. He should make friends with Barkley immediately. It’s all he has.

Manning will say the right things. He’ll hold the clipboard and help Jones as best he can. But no one can get this franchise off the canvas. This 1-2 punch ended the season, and if Jones fails, many more to come.

Bills Might Have Just Pushed Jets and Giants Over the Falls

Robbins Nest

file photo NY Giants #10 Eli Manning Neil Miller/The New York Extra/copyright 2019

By Lenn Robbins

You know the state of professional football in the metropolitan area is in sad, sad shape when the best team in the Empire State doesn’t call MetLife Stadium home.

The fact that the Buffalo Bills have beaten the Jets and Giants is just the wild wings appetizer in this story.

The Bills (2-0) have their quarterback of the future in Josh Allen.

He has such a powerful arm it’s rumored he can throw a pass from the Anchor Bar to the Statue of Liberty. From his knees. He is more mobile than Sam Darnold or Daniel Jones.

The Jets (Darnold) and Giants (Jones) believe they are set at that vital position but we don’t know. Jones didn’t play in the Giants 28-14 loss to the Bills on Sunday and Darnold (mononucleosis) won’t play Monday night against the Browns.

The Giants (0-2) have their back of the future in Saquon Barkley, although his name will always be linked with Darnold, which takes us back to the franchise QB issue.

Should the Giants have drafted Darnold? Is Jones the real deal?

The Jets (0-1) have their star back in Le’Veon Bell but he’ll be a salary cap albatross before Gang Green makes the playoffs. You read that right.

The Bills got their back of the future, Devin Singletary, in the third round of the draft. It didn’t cost them the second pick in last year’s draft (Barkley) or a Brinks truck (Bell).

The Bills have a balanced, aggressive defense. The Giants have a defense that allowed Dak Prescott and Allen to look like Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes.

The Jets defense looked good in Week 1 in a 17-16 loss to Buffalo. It will be without LB C.J. Mosley and first-round pick DL Quinnen Williams against the Browns.

As bad as Cleveland’s petulant QB, Baker Mayfield, looked in a Week 1 loss to the Titans, we expect Gang Green’s defense to be exposed.

Worst of all, it feels as if the Bills are building something, as if there’s a plan and everyone is drinking the same sports drink.

The Giants are a QB change away from acknowledging what every Big Blue fan knows – this roster is lacking and the season is a long, cold march to the draft.

The Jets want us to believe they can be competitive this season but we’re about to meet Trevor Siemian who couldn’t win the starting QB jobs in Denver or Minnesota. He’ll play quarterback until Darnold can return.

The Jets follow Monday’s game against Cleveland with the Pats, Eagles and Cowboys. It’s possible that by the time Darnold returns the Jets could be in draft lockstep with their MetLife neighbors.

The Bills next face the Bengals so 3-0 is probable. Buffalo hasn’t done that since 2011. Spoiler: The Bills finished 6-10.

 Forget the future. The Bills are 2-0. They’re having fun.

When a reporter asked Allen what he thought he had proved to New York City fans and New York City teams, the second-year QB picked apart the question.

“Um, [there’s] one New York team,” he quipped. “I’m just kidding.”

They’re laughing upstate. We’re about to cry Niagara Falls tears down here.

The Darnold-Mayfield Showdown Gets Kissed Off

ROBBINS NEST

09/08/19 Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold #14 leaves the field in dejection after the game today

By Lenn Robbins

Stars rise fast these days. Some handle it well. Some don’t.

Sam Darnold, 22, would have made the 15th start of his NFL career Monday night when Gang Green hosts the Cleveland Browns and their second-year quarterback, Baker Mistakefield, 24. It’s likely Darnold will miss more than just Monday’s game with mononucleosis.

Mayfield was the No.1 overall pick in last year’s NFL Draft. Darnell went No.3. You know ESPN is scrambling to replace all those Mayfield-Darnold comparisons.

It’s a shame that Darnold has been sacked by the kissing disease, as it’s referred to in KidsHealth.org. Because Mayfield is the kid in this tandem. Darnold is the adult.

Mayfield’s talent-laden Browns, considered the favorites to win the AFC Central, got pummeled by the Tennessee Titans, 43-13 last weekend. The ailment he’s suffering these days is a bruised ego.

Mayfield, who any minute now could declare himself the best young quarterback in the NFL, completed 25-of-38 passes for 285 yards with three interceptions, one touchdown and garnered a QB rating of 64.

Darnold wasn’t much better in his team’s season opener, a soul-sapping 17-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills. He completed 28-of-41 passes for a meager 175 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. His QB rating was 84.9-percent.

09/08/19 Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold #14 throws in todays game

So, on paper, after one week, the Jets have the better quarterback.

Now, let’s put these silly analytics aside. Because really, QB rating is nonsense. If a quarterback gets his team in the end zone and wins games, the rest is window dressing.

John Elway’s QB rating? 79.9. Johnny Unitas? 78.2. End of story.

Here’s why we’re perfectly comfortable with Darnold being in New York and Baker Blabber being in Cleveland.

After the Jets blew the game against the Bills last week, this was what Darnold had to say:

“We never really got into rhythm and I put that on myself.”

file photo N.Y.Jets #14 Sam Darnold walks off the field after the Jets lost last Sunday Neil Miller /The New York Extra

After the Browns got pulverized by the Titans, this is what Baby Baker had to say.

“We don’t really give a damn what’s going on on the outside,” Mayfield said when asked how stunned the NFL world was by his team’s debacle.

Darnold said “I.” Mayfield said “We.”

Darnold has shown uncanny poise and has an understated presence. Guys like to be around him.

Mayfield has dissed former teammates (see: Duke Johnson) and coaches (see: Hugh Jackson) and opponents (see: Daniel Jones). He likes to be the light and the moth.

Mayfield can be seen on TV hocking Progressive Insurance, which in theory is fine. But it makes you wonder if some of the veterans on the Browns, that have never had a sponsorship deal, are a little irked.

Darnold hasn’t filmed a national television commercial but he did dress up as Santa Claus last Christmas and surprised kids at a New Jersey mall.

We won’t get to see Darnold-Mayfield Monday night, which is disappointing. Both seem to be remarkably gifted. Mayfield is more mobile. Darnold has an Elway-strong arm.

Here’s the shame: The QB that carries himself like a petulant child didn’t get the kid’s virus.

Jets’ Gase Put An Incomplete Team on the Field

09/08/19 Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold #14 leaves the field in dejection after the game today

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

 One of the many factors that contributed to Mike Maccagnan getting stabbed in the back by Adam Gase was the feeling that the former GM gave out overly generous contracts to Le’Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley.

09/08/19 Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. New York Jets head coach Adam Gase during the 2nd half today

The two will earn a combined $33.5 million this season. The rest of the roster, starting with Gase, should earn nothing.

What other conclusion can one draw after the latest Jets debacle, this one epic even by Gang Green’s lowly standards?

The Jets forced four first-half turnovers, led 16-0 midway through the third quarter, and lost, 17-16, to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

 Gase, making his Jets head coaching debut, put an incomplete team on the MetLife Stadium field. The Jets were putrid in special teams, porous on the offensive line and unable to sustain defensive intensity for 60 minutes.

“When you take a loss like this, it kind of defines you,” Bell told reporters. “We’re going to see how guys respond. When you have that many turnovers and we still don’t win the game, we didn’t deserve to win that game.”

The Jets built their lead largely because they had two NFL-proven stars in Bell and Mosley. And then they got exposed by a Buffalo team that had a solid plan and solid, if not spectacular, roster.

The Jets kicker, Kaare Vedvik, who was signed off waivers last week, missed a PAT and a 45-yard field goal attempt.

09/08/19 Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. New York Jets kicker Kaare Vedvik #6 reacts fater missing a fg in todays game

“It sucks,’’ Vedvik told reporters. “Everybody wants to do their part in helping the team win. A close game like that, it’s bad.”

The offensive line, which was so suspect the Jets had to woo Ryan Kalil out of retirement in early August, gave up four sacks and never allowed Sam Darnold, who got hit nine other times, to feel comfortable.

“Whenever you have the lead going into the fourth quarter, that’s never the result you want,” Darnold, who was 28-of-41 passing for 175 yards and one touchdown, told reporters.

The defense looked competent until Mosely left the game midway through the third quarter with a groin injury.

09/08/19 Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. New York Jets inside linebacker C.J. Mosley #57 runs in a interception for a touch down in the 1st half today

“When he went out, it was kind of a game changer as far as they didn’t have somebody that vocal in the middle of the field that was able to make all their calls and all their check,” Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen told reporters after the game.

Bell, who should have gotten the ball more than 23 times, finished with 92 yards from scrimmage, a touchdown reception, a leaping two-point conversion catch and showed that despite a year away from football, he remains a dominant back.

09/08/19 Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell #26 celebrates his catch for a 2 pt conversion in todays game
09/08/19 Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell #26 runs for a gain in the 1st half today

 Mosley scored the Jets other touchdown, their first of the season on a 17-yard interception return. Before leaving midway through the third with a groin injury and defense’s heart, he had five tackles, two passes defensed and the Pick Six.

Gase, allegedly a quarterback whisperer, couldn’t protect a 16-point lead at home by calling plays like a coach that was trying to protect a 16-point lead.

“I felt like our energy died, man, and we wasn’t playing team ball,” safety Jamal Adams told reporters. “So any time you do that, a team is going to take advantage of it.”

The way Gase’s team is constructed, don’t be surprised if the Jets get taken advantage of a lot this season.

The Sunset Grill hosts the Mountain Jam Orchestra by Neil Miller/The New York Extra.

The Mountain Jam Orchestra at The Sunset Grill ,Seaford N.Y. Neil Miller/The New York Extra copyright 2019

If some one tried define what the Long Island Music Scene to a friend, they would show them the Sunset Grill 4068 Sunrise Highway Seaford N.Y. 11783 ( 516-785-4952).Its not a pretty ,glitzy place, but a bar with good drinks with good prices, and a decent kitchen.Comfortable and freindly ,it has been hosting bands since the early 90’s. Its the type of place, if you love classic rock and roll, that you feel at home with.

Tonite’s band is the always favorite Allman’s Brother tribute band,The Mountain Jam Orchestra.There are a few Allman’s tributes bands on the Island,But Jim Lynch ,the bands bassist, says that MJO idea is to present what a Allman’s concert feel like.

The Mountain Jam Orchestra at the Sunset Grill Seaford,N.Y. Neil Miller/The New York Extra, Gallery images copyright 2019

The first set featured Come and Go Blues,Black Hearted Woman ,Midnite Rider and Southbound among others.Bringing their own style of tribute of the Allman’s, the patrons of Sunset, as always ,had a good time.

The Mets Loss That Will Live in Nightmares Forever

08/11/19 Washington Nationals vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny #39 Edwin Diaz reacts after giving up a 2 run homer in the 8th inning file photo Neil Miller The New York Extra

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

What made this loss so gut retching, was that for the first eight and one-half innings Tuesday night, Mets looked like a playoff team.

They had roughed up Nationals ace Max Scherzer for four runs. Joe Panik hit his first home run as a Met, only the 13th home run allowed by Scherzer this season.

The Mets had, wait for it, given Jacob deGrom run support. deGrom wasn’t Cy Young good in the Mets playoff-ending, soul-sucking 11-10 loss to the Nationals, but he gave the Mets seven innings of eight-hit ball and left with his team up 4-2.

By the bottom of the ninth that lead had swelled to 10-4. How safe is 10-4 going into the bottom of the ninth? According to ESPN stats, it was 274-0 safe. Not once had a team leading by six, with three outs to get, lost.

So safe that I opted to watch an episode of the terrific series “Manhunter,” with my wife. We had just shut the lights when my 14-year-old son Harry did what he has never done before.

He crashed open the bedroom door. Don’t worry, not much goes on in there.

Anyhow, he always knocks. The kids always knock. But this clearly was not a knockable moment. This was a Mets hope-ending execution unlike anything he’d ever seen. Even Mets manager Mickey Callaway couldn’t repeat his mantra that this team can do something special.

“We had a six-run lead,’’ Mets manager Mickey Callaway told reporters. “Major league pitchers have to be able to hold that.’’

File photo Mickey Callaway Neil Miller / The New York Extra

You think?

When Kurt Suzuki crushed an Edwin Diaz sacrificial offering over the fence for a three-run walk-off home that gave the Mets one of the most gruesome losses in franchise history, fans had a second of stunned disbelief. Then a second of anger. Then this:

Only the Mets.

It was as if this team had discovered time travel and made its way back to 1962 when “Only the Mets,” became a refrain, said over and over again with a chuckle that hid the disbelief over another Mets debacle.

Of course, when something so colossally wrong occurs, it seems heartless to report more bad news, but hey, “Major league pitchers have to be able to hold that.’’ The Brewers, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Phillies – all ahead of the Mets in the Wild Card race – all won.

The Mets are five back, but that’s just a number. It rightfully sounds so much better than 11-10 or 274-0.

Leave it to a former Met to explain what a loss like this really means,

“If it doesn’t put the last nail in the coffin, it’s awfully close,” SNY analyst Ron Darling said on-air. “Someone’s hammering away.”

The Mets will never again play a game this season in which a lead feels safe. Fans will never hit the sack contently. This is a nightmare that will haunt the final 24 games of the season.

There won’t be a 25th game.

“It’s going to be a tough one to digest tonight, but you have to do it,” Callaway told reporters. “We have digested several.”

None like this. Never like this.

Starting Pitching Could Block Yanks From Canyon of Heros

Robbins Nest

08/03/19 boston red sox vs ny yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny yanks win 9-2. #26 dj lemahieu hits a 3 run homer in the 4th innning Neil Miller / the New York Extra

By Lenn Robbins

This isn’t what Yankees fans want to hear and, quite frankly, we hope it doesn’t come to be. Because there is no city in the world that does a hero’s parade better than the Big Apple.

Who else has a ‘Canyon of Heroes?”

When the U.S. women’s national soccer team won the World Cup (again!), they came here for a parade on Broadway. Their locks were littered with ticker tape, just as Brian Leetch and Derek Jeter and Eli Manning and Neil Armstrong and Nelson Mandela and the Mets, who got a parade in 1962 just for entering the National League!

So believe us when we say we want an October parade.

But if it doesn’t happen, if the Yankees don’t fulfill their 2019 destiny and come up short in their quest for a 28th World Series title, this still has been a ridiculously amazing season.

That fact came into clarity this weekend when the Yankees became the first team to reach the 90-win total. They did it in the most riveting of fashions.

Trailing the Oakland A’s 4-0 going into the bottom of the eighth on Sunday, the Yankees rallied for a 5-4 triumph when Mike Ford became the first rookie in franchise history to smack a pinch-hit, walk-off home run.

08/15/19 Cleveland Indians vs New York Yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny #36 Mike Ford ,who started the game as the DH, pitches in the 8th innning, smiles after he gives up a homer Neil Miller / the New York Extra

We are talking about the Yankees, who have more remarkable history than any team in baseball. Ford, the former Princeton hurler and career minor leaguer, has added to that history.

“I didn’t hear anything, which is crazy,” Ford told reporters about his historic homer. “Just a whole rush of emotion.”

That’s what has made this Yankees season special. The emotion. Because the men in that clubhouse know how hard they’ve had to grind, how many obstacles they’ve had to overcome.

The day before Ford got lost in emotion, DJ LeMahieu hit a walk-off homer in a 4-3, 11-inning victory over Oakland.

These heroics came the day after the Yankees set a more dubious record. They placed Gio Urshela on the injured list with a groin injury. Urshela became the 29th Yankee make it onto that list, which is a Major League record.

Despite this staggering procession of injuries, the Yankees own a 90-49 record and have all but mathematically won their 19th AL East title, the first since 2012.

Urshela is one of the most fantastic stories in baseball with a slash line of .331/.370/.555 with 32 doubles and 18 home runs in 414 plate appearances.

LeMahieu’s numbers make him the second most fantastic story on the Yankees (Domingo German, noted). David John has a slash line of .335./.382/.920 with 24 home runs and 90 RBI.

If the season ended today, LeMahieu and Urshela would be 1-2 choices for team MVP, which is flat out mind-boggling when you consider this is a team with guys named Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius, Aroldis Chapman, et al.

The Yankees have epitomized the “next man up,” mantra.

“Our guys have been great at it all year,’’ manager Aaron Boone told reporters. “Whoever we brought up has controlled situations and moments really well and beyond, maybe, their experience. Ford has been one of those guys, but the list is long.’’

It has been a long and astonishing list, but here’s the rub. We’re still not sold on the starting pitching. Hold the paper shredding.

If one needed a reminder of the importance of starting pitching, it came yesterday like the downpour that marked the day. The Yankees were shutout for the first time this season, losing 7-0 to the Rangers.

05/10/16 Kansas City Royals Vs N.Y.Yankees at Yankee Stadium Bronx N.Y. New York Yankees lead 1-0 after 1 innning New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka #19 pitches in the 1st innning photos by Neil Miller / the ny extra

Masahiro Tanaka (10-8; 4.42 ERA) was solid, surrendering two runs on seven hits over six innings. Mike Minor (12-8; 3.12) was better, allowing just five hits through seven and one-third innings.

Considering this marked the first time in 220 games that the Yankees had been blanked, one can safely label this an anomaly. Or a warning. Regardless, the Yankees starting pitching remains an abstract picture.

J.A. Happ was brilliant against Oakland, tossing one-hit ball over six innings. But that was the first time he’d gone six since July 30th. Tanaka has been a workhorse. German has been terrific. But Happ and CC Sabathia, who’s lost five straight, have not.

08/03/19 boston red sox vs ny yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny New York Yankees starting pitcher Domingo German #55 pitches in the 1st inning today
09/13/16 Los Angeles Dodgers vs New York Yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny New York Yankees win 3-0 New York Yankees catcher Brian McCann #34 right celebrates with New York Yankees relief pitcher Dellin Betances #68 after the game photos by Neil Miller/ the New York Extra

James Paxton has won six straight since losing five in a row so that jury is out. He’s been streaky all season, which is not comforting entering the playoffs.

When one considers the pitching in Cleveland, Houston, Oakland and Tampa, the Yankees are going to be tested – big time – which is the way it should be.

They already have been tested more than any team in baseball history. Without Luis Severino, Dellin Betances and the other members of the injured list, it’s astonishing what the Bombers have done.

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 ny extra

A 21st 100-win season would be sensational. A ticker tape parade would be better.

Chiefs Can’t Wait: This is the Last Sunday With no NFL Until February

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

There have been many impassioned debates as to whether or not Tom Brady is the greatest football player of all time.

Recently we wrote that Brady is the pick for the greatest quarterback of all time.

Now we have learned that there is another facet of Brady’s greatness that ends any debate Sorry, Montana. Apologies, Namath. Regrets, Unitas. Brady has indeed taken the quarterback position to a new level.

He is the Football Whisperer, the Freud of the Football. Not the game of football. The actual football.

Consider his recent remarks when asked to assess the play of free agent wide receiver Jacobi Meyers, who has impressed throughout training camp and the preseason.

“The football doesn’t care how old you are, whether you were drafted or not. The football doesn’t care how much experience you have. It just knows, when I let that ball go, it’s got to be in the hands of the guy who it’s intended for.’’

Wait, the football doesn’t care, as in the football has feelings?

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of this discovery but we will try.

This is like finding life on Mars. Or fresh water in the ocean’s depths. Or a neurotransmitter in the deepest recesses of the brain that can be stimulated to guarantee lifelong virility. (Willing to volunteer for the trial).

Tom Brady, six-time Super Bowl champ, three-time Super Bowl MVP, husband to one of the highest-earning supermodels of all-time, might just win a Nobel Prize for science.

This is like Kobe Bryant winning an Oscar for his truly wonderful animated short film, “Dear Basketball.”

Brady, we know, has an intimate relationship with footballs. He was suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season for deflating balls in the 2015 AFC Championship Game.

We wonder: If he knew then what he knows now, would he have, um, deflated the balls? Maybe his

Football Whisperer skills were still being honed and he couldn’t yet communication with the oblong, leather, ball.

We’ll let the psychologists, therapists and linguists pursue this new avenue of study. We’ve got bigger issues to address. With this being the last Sunday we won’t have NFL football until February 9th, and all those priceless preseason games in the books, it’s time to make our picks.

AFC East: Pats – as long as the 42-year-old Brady doesn’t get injured or caught deflating footballs.

AFC North: Browns – Mayfield leads them to their first divisional title since 1989, despite monthly reports he’s not liked in the locker room.

AFC South: Texans – Without Luck, Texans have the best QB in the division – by far.

AFC West: Chiefs – Andy Reid is a Hall of Fame coach, right? Right?

Wildcards:  Steelers – Addition by subtraction; AB and his treasured helmet are gone. Chargers – Because I believe in the Ravens less, not exactly a ringing endorsement.

AFC Championship Game: Chiefs over Pats

NFC East: Cowboys – America’s soap opera team.

NFC North: Packers – Mr. Rodgers really likes the neighborhood now that the McCarthy house has been sold.

NFC South: Saints – Drew Brees is starting to slip. Really? Really?

NFC West: Rams – Todd Gurley’s knee is as shaky as my short game but that defense is as solid as my 19th hole storytelling.

Wildcards: Bears – Taking a healthy but unproven Mitch Trubisky over a proven but not necessarily healthy Carson Wentz. Seahawks – They just stole the best DE, in football, Jadaveon Clowney, and Texas didn’t even file a police report.

NFC Championship Game: Seahawks over Cowboys

Super Bowl – Chiefs over Seahawks.

The Mets dig themselves a big hole by Neil Miller /The New York Extra

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/Neil Miller copyright 2019

With the loss tonight to the Cubs,the Mets find themselves 5 games behind for the 2nd wild card spot.The sweep by the Braves and now the Cubs has put them in an almost impossible situation facing the upcoming schedule.

Once again, the starting pitcher for the Mets did them in.Surprisingly, this time it was Jake DeGrom.The 3 run homer he gave up took all the fight out of the team after that point.And yet once again, for the most part, the bats were ineffective.

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/copyright 2019
08/29/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny #48 Jacon Degrom pitches in the 1st inning Neil Miller /The New York Extra/copyright 2019

There’s still time to fix the situation, but it would require the Mets running the table, and getting some help from the Nats,Phillies,and St Louis. It doesnt look good for them at this moment.

08/29/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny Mets players on the dugout rail stare in dejection in the 9th inning Neil Miller/The New York Extra/ copyright 2019

The Mets melt down again,as Jake implodes in the 7th inning

The Cubs are leading the Mets 4-1 after 7 innings after #7 Victor caratini blasted a 3 run homer in the &th inning off of #48 Jake DeGrom, who did not return to the mound for the 8th inning.

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 /copyright 2019

Seeing is the NFL Believing in Oakley’s Prizm Visors

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

Andrew Luck chose life over football.

He was done with the blood in his urine, the pain in his body, the cobwebs in his head. The 29-year-old Colts quarterback, with full life to be lived, did what any sane, mature, young man should do. He retired.

These are some of the responses Luck received:

credit twitter

Some television announcers quickly bemoaned their disappointment because they were going to pick Luck in their fantasy football draft.

Some Colts fans, who must be a quarter of a chromosome short of human, booed Luck as he tossed passes on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday when the news broke.

Many debated whether or not Luck should repay some of his contract.

How Luck’s retirement affects the Colts also made for a lot reading.

Luck’s short and long-term health was not a sexy story, so it got buried.

Now, consider these story lines:

Luck now probably has a good chance of watching the child he and longtime girlfriend Nicole Pechanec are expecting to grow up. He can push her on the swings, attend her school functions, maybe even toss a football around.

Luck now probably avoids being one of the former NFL players sitting at home that don’t know they’re sitting at home because their brains are irreparably damaged.

Luck now probably won’t be one of the former NFL players – such as Jim Otto, who literally is sitting at home –  because they’re cripples. Otto had his right leg amputated in 2007 after injury led to surgery and infection.

Luck no longer is one of the current NFL players that are considering the long-term health risks associated with their profession. Other players are actively managing their injury care.

“I think it takes an immense amount of courage, an immense amount of self-reflection and a lot of guts to do what he’s doing,’’ said Texas defensive end J.J. Watt.

Here’s one of the undisputed truths in life that none of us should ever forget: The only people that truly care about you are your family, close friends and pets.

Big business certainly doesn’t care. And the NFL, which finishes its preseason Thursday, is very big business.

It’s so big that three days after Luck announced his retirement, the NFL and Oakley announced a four-year deal in which the sports performance equipment company becomes the league’s official helmet visor provider.

It didn’t seem like a particularly interesting announcement until one recalls that tinted visors have been banned by the NFL since 1998. Visors only could be used if the player was granted medical exemption.

Tinted visors were banned for safety.

Medical personnel feared that a helmet with a tinted visor could make it more difficult to see a player’s eyes in evaluating possible concussion. And removing a helmet with a visor could be hazardous in the event of spinal cord injury.

Oakley claims, and the NFL nods in agreement, that its visors can be easily and safely removed without removing the helmet.

Oakley claims, and the NFL nods in agreement, that its subtle pink tint visors will not hinder medical personnel from looking into a player’s eyes.

Oakley claims its Prizm Clear visors feature Prizm technology which makes, “the colors on the field pop. The football against the green field and the white hashmarks and sidelines should all stand out more to the player.”

Sorry, just teared up for sec. Oakley better patent that statement because it sounds like a Hallmark card in the making.

Here’s the deal. We’d love to believe that these visors are safe and truly offer a scientific breakthrough in vision, but why in the world would any player take Oakley and the NFL’s claims at face value?

Read of the terrific and terrifying book, “League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for the Truth,” by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, and any mature young man will question if their health is the league’s priority.

We don’t know how much Oakley is paying for this partnership. We do know that the Oakley logo will have a place on every NFL field. And that’s not cheap.

We do know that Oakley’s Sutro frames with Prizm-lense sunglasses go for $163 a pop, so yes, we hope colors will pop, pop, pop.

None of us know exactly what the last four years have been like for the oft-injured Luck. He should go on to live a happy and healthy life. He won’t end up like Otto or so many others.

You don’t need Prizm lenses to see that.

A glimmer of joy fades in defeat as the Mets fall to the Cubs by Neil Miller /nysportsextra

08/27/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny ny met #7 Marcus Stroman reacts after giving up a 2 run homer in the 5th inning Neil Miller /nysportsextra

There wasnt much to cheer about tonight about the Mets tonite.Marcus Stroman gave up 2 run homers in back to back innings, and it was all the Cubs needed to sink the Mets tonight.

08/27/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny ny met #7 Marcus Stroman pitches in the 2nd inning Neil Miller/nysportsextra

Once again, the starting pitching didnt do the job, and the hitting wasnt much better, except for a brief instant in time when Pete Alonso lauched his 42 homer of this year breaking the all time Mets record.

08/27/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny ny met #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/nysportsextra
08/27/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny ny met Mets hang on the dugout railing in dejection in the 9th inning tonite Neil Miller/nysportsextra

With the next four series, including the Cubs,the Mets have their destiny in their own hands.Win the next four series, and there’s a chance they make it into the 2nd wild card spot.Lose the greater portion of the near future games, and the outcome is almost certain

Why the Braves Sweep Was Such a Gut Punch

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

08/25/19 Atlanta Braves vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny Joe Panik grounds out to end the against the Braves today Neil miller/nysportsextra

It was the night of August 9th and the Mets had fallen into a 6-3 sinkhole in the bottom of the 9th against the Nationals when my drinking buddy said, “I’m going to head home. We know how this ends.”

 And then, bang-bang!

Todd Frazier crushed a three-run homer. Michael Conforto lined a singled to right driving in the winning run. And my buddy turned to me and said (cue the Godfather soundtrack), “They’ve pulled me back in.”

Which is what made Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field so deflating for the team from Queens and its fans.

The Mets pulled us back in. They had us believing. Shoot, they just bolstered their resume by sweeping the Cleveland Indians last week.

So when Joe Panik stepped to the plate with two outs and runners on first and second, fans rose because since that early-August the Amazins have pulled us back in.

Panik, who’s had a bit of a career resurgence since joining the Mets, hit a soft grounder to first. Freddie Freeman needed no help. He fielded the ball, waved off reliever Mark Melancon, and stepped on first.

No bang-bang! Nothing.

08/25/19 Atlanta Braves vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny Steven Matz pitches in the 1st inning today against the Braves Neil Miller /nysportsextra

The Mets had been swept in a three-game series for just the third time this season. They slipped two and one-half games out of the Wild Card. The Braves, who seemingly have had the Mets number since they arrived in Atlanta in 1966, had struck again.

They swept the Mets in a three-game tease.

The Braves struck out 26 times Friday night, tying a MLB record, yet won, 2-1. They blew a four-run lead Saturday night, yet won, 9-5. And they were on the verge of coughing up a Dallas Keuchel gem on Sunday when Melancon induced Panik into a ground out that sucked the soul out of Citi Field.

“They’re a really tough team,” Mets starter Steven Matz told reporters. “We’ve played them tough and they’ve come out on top. They grind it out to the end. We play good baseball against them, they just got the upper hand.”

08/24/19 atlanta braves vs ny mets at citi field queens ny #45 zach wheeler reacts after giving up a homer in the 2nd inning

The next 16 games are against teams the Mets are battling for that Wild Card berth. There are 32 games remaining. They can’t afford another sweep. The Mets have pulled us back in, which makes this late-season sweep such a gut punch.

#48 Jacob DeGrom file photo pitching against the Atlanta Braves this weekend Neil Miller/nysportsextra

“It was a tough series,” manager Mickey Calloway told reporters.

It sure was.

Pitching fails again as Mets fall to the Braves

Zach Wheeler spoted the Braves 4 runs tonite before the Mets came back on a Pete Alomso 3 run homer to go ahead 5-4. But the very next inning they gave up the lead and lost 9-5 on a combination of the bullpen and bad fielding.

08/24/19 atlanta braves vs ny mets at citifield queens ny #45 zach wheeler reacts after giving p a 2 run hit in the 1st innning
08/24/19 atlanta braves vs ny mets at citi field queens ny #45 zach wheeler reacts after giving up a homer in the 2nd inning

Pete Alonso 3 ru homer was the high point of tonites game for the Mets.

The Gettleman/Shurmur Ticket Has Had a Good August

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

8/01/19 New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur Neil Miller /nysportsextra

We are as far away from knowing if the Dave Gettleman/Pat Shurmur partnership is going to restore the Giants to where it once was – one of the NFL’s most respected, professional franchises – as we are to the first snowfall (Apologies).

But August has been a very good month for the Giants.

8/01/19

From the Mara Family, to George Young, to Bill Parcells, to Tom Coughlin, the Giants set a standard on and off the field that every Big Blue fan could proudly wear. Even in seasons when a championship wasn’t won, the Giants walked with the Steelers, the Packers, and the 49ers among others, franchises that would have the late Aretha Franklin bellowing out, ‘Respect.’

And then the worm turned. Jerry Reese. Bob McAdoo. The utterly galling benching of Eli Manning. The ridiculous antics of Odell Beckham Jr.

It was enough to wear that LT jersey inside out.

Until now.

Gettleman set the tone in late July at the start of training camp when the naysayers were in the midst of a blue-faced filibuster: Letting Landon Collins walk in free agency was ridiculous. Trading away Beckham was a travesty. The drafting of Daniel Jones was buffoonery.

Gettleman uttered these words:

“Give us some credit for the experience and our resumes…they’ve just gotta trust,” he implored fans.

Since then, it doesn’t seem so outlandish to trust this Gettleman/Shurmur ticket.

Jones, the player Gettleman has gambled his reputation on, has performed so efficiently and handled himself so admirably, it’s not folly to think he might develop into a QB for the ages. That’s the expectation when you a QB with the No.6 pick.

When Browns child quarterback Baker Mayfield called out Jones as being a loser at Duke in that GQ article, Jones responded like a man who just might find a home in the United Nations one day. (Assuming there is a United Nations).

“I wish we did win more games,” Jones told reporters. “I played a big part in that, so I take responsibility.’’

Take note: This is what accountability sounds like.

Jones then went out the next day and completed 9-of-11 passes for 141 yards in a 25-23 preseason win over the Bengals. Jones might not want these practice games to end. He’s completed 25-of-30 passes (83-percent) for 369 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Has he fumbled the ball a couple of times? Yep. Has he bounced back? You bet.

When your first-round QB draft choice plays this well, and your incumbent, Manning, is entering his 16th season, even a 14th street fortune teller can predict what’s coming: Who’s the starter?

Shurmur ended that folly immediately and unequivocally.

.

8/01/19 New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning #10 Neil Miller /nysportsextra

“I’ve said it all along: Eli is our starter, and we’re getting Daniel ready to play,” Shurmur told reporters. “I think he’s done a good job in the preseason. As I’ve mentioned all along, he’s getting better. And he’s going to continue to do that, so that at whatever time we need him to play, he’ll be ready.”

8/01/19 NY Giants #8 Daniel Jones Neil Miller / nysportsextra

You can offer that as coach’s Exhibit A in how to diffuse a rookie/veteran quarterback controversy.

Look, everyone knows Jones will be the starter one day. It likely will be at some point this season.

But Shurmur didn’t throw in a “for now,” as in “Eli is our starter for now.” He didn’t say, “We feel good about both guys.” And thank goodness he didn’t utter the dreaded, “We’ll play whoever gives us the best chance to win.”

This all sounds exactly the way a professional franchise should operate. Yes, the Gettleman/Shurmur ticket did well in August. The real campaign, of course, is soon to begin.

A tale of two pitchers by Neil Miller Nysportsextra

08/23/19 Atlanta Braves vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny #48 Jacob DeGrom hits a solo homer in the 6th innning

What more could Jake do? Or for that matter , all of the Mets relievers, and Atlanta whole pitching staff? After a game filled with great starters and relief, is was Familia that failed again.

#48 Jacob DeGrom pitches in the 1st inning last nite Neil Miller /Nysportsextra

After De Grom let up a run, in the bottom frame of that inning, he redeem his mistake by launching a homer to tie the score. And so it continued that way, chances for both teams to win, but the pitchers shut them down.

J.Familia reacts after giving up the go ahead run in the 14th inning last nite neil Miller/Nysportsextra

Bring in Familia, and what do the Mets and their fans get? Another failure to add to his not so good year on his return to the Mets. The team , locked in s struggle for the 2nd wild card spot, can little afford what happened last nite.

Mets lead Indians thru 6 innings in a rain delayed game at Citifield

Noah Syndergaard pitched a strong game thru six inning only giving 2 hits thru 6 innnings before the rains came.The scoring in the game so far came from Wilson Ramos 2 run double.as of 11pm, the game was still delayed.

noah Syndergaard pitches in the 1st inning Neil Miller /nysportsextra
Wilson Ramos 2 rbi double is the only scoring so far tonite Neil Miller ? nysportsextra

Giants Should Hope Jets Provide Mayfield Mayhem

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

credit twitter

What should be Baker Mayfield’s moniker?

Baker the (Insincere) Apology Mayker. Baker Mayday. Missed Maykers Mark. Baby Mayker. Baker Blabber.

No need to decide right now.

Based on Mayfield’s impressive immaturity rap sheet, if none of those nicknames suffice, the Cleveland Browns quarterback will provide many more opportunities for ridicule.

He’s a Mistake Mayker.

Mayfield’s most recent, how do we say this – lack of judgment; narcissistic rambling – occurred earlier this week. He threw shade at Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones.

Make no mistake. Mayfield shows a skill set that could make him one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks. And his fiery persona is cheered in Cleveland, although not necessarily in the Browns locker room. (We’ll get to that shortly.)

There’s no disputing that Johnson has the makeup of a franchise quarterback, if not the face of the franchise.

And there’s no disputing this either: One can’t make camp on the 50-yard line when it comes to the 24-year-old Texan.

Long, long-suffering Browns fans are naming their pets (and children) after Mayfield, never a good idea. Cleveland is swooning over their fiery QB.

But around the league, and especially here in New York, fans hope the petulant passer gets sandwiched by Quinnen Williams and Leonard Williams when Gang Green hosts the Browns in a few weeks at MetLife.

Maybe the Giants can pull a page out of Gregg Williams’ playbook and take out a bounty on Mayfield, payable to any Jets defender that hits the Browns’ QB with the force that an Arkansas police officer did in 2017. (We’ll get to that shortly, too).

After Mayfield was quoted in a GQ magazine article as saying, “I cannot believe the Giants took Daniel Jones. It blows my mind.’’ He immediately turned to the time dishonored tradition of claiming he was quoted out of context.

Mayfield said he reached out to Jones to clear the air. It’s not certain if there was an apology but Mayfield’s mea culpas often are disingenuous. (We’ll get to that shortly, as well.)

Mayfield also shaded his former teammate Duke Johnson, who requested a trade after the Browns signed Kareem Hunt last season.

“Obviously, he’s going to handle his stuff how he wants, but you’re either on this train or you’re not — it’s moving,” Mayfield told reporters. “You can get out of the way or you can join us.”

That led to several Browns veterans explaining to Baker that this is not how business is conducted in the NFL. Cleveland native and former Browns WR Cecil Shorts III said Mayfield made a “young guy mistake.”

Mayfield reportedly listened to the Browns veterans, who know better, but stuck by his filleting of Johnson. Perhaps some of Mayfield’s teammates also might take a little pleasure in their QB getting tattooed in MetLife.

As a rookie, Mayfield decided he’s also an authority on the job machinations of the NFL. When coach Hue Jackson took a job with the rival Bengals after being fired by the Browns, Mayfield refused to shake hands after a 35-20 victory.

Former Jets lineman Damien Woody crushed Mayfield in a Tweet, saying the Browns QB needs to grow up. Needs to grow up. Young guy mistake. Not the first time.

Mayfield was stripped of his Oklahoma captaincy for the Senior Day game after turning to the Kansas bench and grabbing his crouch in a previous game.

He planted the Oklahoma flag in the Ohio Stadium field after leading the Sooners to a 31-16 win. Mayfield later apologized for his errant green thumb.

“They’re a great team and a great program,’’ Mayfield said two days later, reportedly after being admonished by Oklahoma officials. “I didn’t mean it to be disrespectful at all.”

Yet in the same GQ article in which Mayfield’s comments allegedly were taken out of context, he said the Ohio apology had no sincerity. “Zero,’’ the Insincere Apologist said. “Absolutely not.”

And then there was the time in February of 2017 when Mayfield was arrested in Arkansas for public intoxication, disorderly conduct, fleeing and resisting arrest. Man did that Arkansas officer sack Mayfield.

Mayfield later said of the incident it was a “rude awakening to responsibility and accountability.”

Apparently, there was no Maywakening. He continues to act and speak like a child.

“I think he’s a great player,’’ Jones told reporters in response to Mayfield’s remarks. “He can throw it and I enjoy watching him play.’’

Bet ya Jones wouldn’t mind seeing Gang Green work Mayfield over. Bet ya a lot of folks in the NFL feel that way.

Nicky’s on the Bay, a beautiful restaurant in Bayshore by Neil Miller nysportsextra

Nicky’s on the Bay 150 South Clinton Ave Bayshore 631-206-3311, has it all. At a very sweet location off Bayshore’s marinas,Nicky’s has a large oval bar and “L” shaped outside deck on the first level, as well as table seating that is protected from the weather.It overlooks both Bayshore harbor, and the outlet to the Great South Bay.

The upper level has even better views ,again with a “L” deck where bands play. The menu is large and varied, including standard bar starters and main courses, and a complete seafood menu.

Today’s band was the RapidFire Band playing the songs that the Sunday crowd enjoyed.

All the Healing We Need is Taking Place in Williamsport

ROBBINS NEST

credit twitter

By Lenn Robbins

This is what unfettered, 12-year-old joy looks like. These are the jerseys that humanity wears. This is where a ball and a bat and a glove meld into a glorious amalgam of inclusion and respect and compassion.

The Little League World Series has come at the perfect time for a world wound tight in anxiety and fear and hate.

From mass shootings, to trade wars, to tensions on the Korean Peninsula and Kashmir, to protests in Hong Kong, to leaders that lead only themselves – every morning dawns in doubt.

Except in Williamsport.

In Williamsport, the world’s best 12-year-old baseball players from Mexico to Elizabeth, N.J., from Chungcheong, South Korea to Coon Rapids/Andover, Minn., from Venezuela to Australia remind us why nostalgia beats in the chambers of the heart.

In Williamsport, it doesn’t matter if you have the crazy batting stance of Venezuela’s Deivis Ordonez or the cool “Jersey Shake” celebration of the Elmora Youth Little League team.

In Williamsport, you have players nicknamed ‘Chicken Little,’ yet on these beautiful summer days and nights, no kid fears a gunman bursting into their classroom.

In Williamsport, Cubs slugger Anthony Rizzo blasts a two-run homer off the scoreboard and gives the ball to Japan’s shortstop because all of the Japanese players dapped him up.

In Williamsport, it doesn’t matter that Maddy Freking has long blond hair. It matters that she can throw strikes and make the force play at home.

In Williamsport, players on the Rhode Island team honor the memory of a Kentucky player they never met. Bowling Green coach Jef Goodnight lost his 10-year-old son Mason to a rare form of bacterial meningitis in 2017.

 Before Kentucky played Rhode Island, the New England champs touched Mason’s jersey which is displayed the Great Lakes champs’ dugout.

“We’re so fortunate to be here, and we went over to his jersey and I prayed and then I gave his dad a handshake,” Lucas Tanous, 11, told ESPN. “”It’s just so sad, but we all touched his jersey because I bet he was such a nice kid.”

In Williamsport, the Venezuelan players and coaches stop their walk-off celebration to console the Dominican Republic pitcher who gave up a two-run double in the bottom of the 6th.

In Williamsport, kids aren’t glued to their smartphones. They’re watching the next game or the previous game or sliding down the hill beyond the center field on cardboard boxes, like Cubs manager Joe Madden.

In Williamsport, the only fences are in the outfield. In Williamsport, 12-year-olds from around the world, open their arms to one another, not their mouths. In Williamsport, America’s pastime brings the world together.

In Williamsport.

Lisa Polizzi’s Janis Joplin Experience plays the Jones Beach Band Shell on Woodstock Weekend by Neil Miller nysportextra

Neil Miller/nysportsextra

If you grew up in the 60’s, then Janis Joplin was one of your most loved stars.Her voice ,passion, and tragic life captivated young and old.Fifty years ago this weekend Janis was on the stage of Woodstock.

Lisa Polizzi’s band captures the energy ,fun and good music of those times.Lisa’s voice has the grit and sound of Janis from those days.Her band is composed of herself on vocals, Mike Leccese guitar,Rick Thomas

bass, Rick Wolanski ,drums,Stewart Leiberman ,keyboards,and Eddie Berg ,sax

Her set on saturday had many of Janis’ hits for the crowd to enjoy.