Big Maple’s Biggest Performance Lifts Yanks

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By Lenn Robbins

Credit twitter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cole Makes Game 3 a Yanks’ Nightmare Come True

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

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

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

Painfully real.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The nightmare has become reality.

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

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

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

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

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

The Hard Part Has Yet to Come For the Yankees

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

By Lenn Robbins

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

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

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

Yep. Yep. And yep.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, they do.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twins Turn to Former Uber Driver to Save the Season

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#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

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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

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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.

Billy’s by the Bay, a Greenport place for good eats and fun by Neil Miller nysportsextra

Neil Miller/nysportsextra

Billy’s by the Bay is one of the many very good restaurants in the Greenport area.Its location at 2530 Manhasset ave (631-477-8300), is at one of the marinas that boaters and diners go to in the North Fork seaport.

Neil Miller /nysportsextra

Billy’s has a excellent menu that includes a raw bar as well standard starters.Salads ,sandwiches, baskets , burgers and of course lobster is served.The crowd is relaxed and friendly.On the Sunday when nysportsextra visited, Gene Casey and The Lone Sharks played a variety of favorite hits.An easy going and fun place to go, Billy’s is a must when you visit the Greenport area.

Nick Saban Isn’t Happy: Lord Help the Tide’s Opponents

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

   Nick Saban, arguably the greatest head coach in college football history, is not happy. Which is truly an intimidating situation for every other program in the nation.

 Saban believes his players were undisciplined at times last season. He thinks his team’s preparation wasn’t as good as it should have been on occasion. He speculates that some of his players, now in the NFL, were thinking about themselves ahead of the team.

  Saban has spent the last the last six months talking about re-establishing the program’s standard of excellence. Yes, that is a scary narrative if your team faces the Crimson Tide this season.

  Mind you, Alabama went 14-1 and last season, not 11-3 or some other utterly unacceptable record in Tuscaloosa. It’s not as if the standard fell off the table. But when you’re Alabama, winner of 15 national championships, the standard is staggeringly high.

  So after getting embarrassed in the national championship game, a 44-16 beat down at the hands of Clemson, you better believe that Saban has done everything in his power to make certain the Tide is as disciplined, prepared and focused as any team in the nation.

  Oh yes, Alabama also happens to have one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in Tua Tagovailoa, a ridiculous amount of depth and talent on both sides of the ball and a schedule that is fair by SEC standards.

  The 2019 season begins Saturday with Miami and Florida meeting at Camping World Stadium in Orlando (7:00 p.m.; ESPN), followed by Arizona at Hawaii (10:00 p.m.; CBSSN). Although Clemson and Alabama have dominated the preseason polls, neither are undisputed favorites. NYSportsExtra.com looks at the nation’s Top 25 teams, starting with The Tide.

  “I think that the key to us, the key to our success, is can we internally re-establish the standard of what we need to do to be the best team that we can be?” said Saban. “And that’s got to be something that’s done on a consistent basis, and it has to be able to sustain the season. And that’s a challenge for all of us.”

  The challenge for every other team is to find a way to beat ‘Bama.

  1. Alabama: Player Watch: WR Jerry Jeudy. Key Game: Nov. 16 at Mississippi State – Can ‘Bama respond the week after hosting LSU? That BCS Championship Game humiliation provides a lot of motivation. Skinny: Bama’s mindset – to physical dominate at every position – has proved hard to beat.
  • Georgia: Player Watch: RB D’Andre Swift. Key Game: Nov. 16 at Auburn – Showdown on the Plains. Skinny: Dawgs are sick and tired of looking up at Alabama. They have lots of company.
  • Oklahoma: Player Watch: QB Jalen Hurts. Key Game: Nov. 30th at Oklahoma St. – Bedlam. Skinny: Hurts replaces Kyler Murray who replaced Baker Mayfield. Can’t be that easy, can it?
  • Washington: Player Watch: Georgia transfer QB Jacob Eason. Oct 5th at Stanford – One week after hosting USC. Skinny: Chris Petersen has his teams consistently physically and fundamentally prepared.
  • Clemson: Player Watch: Key Game: Sept 14th at Syracuse – One week after hosting Texas A&M. Skinny: Yes, we know QB Trevor Lawrence is exceptional but the Tigers lost an NFL caliber line of defenders.
  • Michigan: Player Watch: RB Zach Charnonnet. Key Game: Nov. 30th vs Ohio State – Wolverines haven’t beaten the Buckeyes since 2011. Skinny: Michigan has been to Vatican; It hasn’t been to the CFP. Favorable schedule.
  • Florida: Player Watch: CB C.J. Henderson; Key Game: Oct. 12th at LSU – One week after Auburn, the Gators go to Death Valley. Skinny: There’s always talent in Gainesville but this is about Year 2 under Dan Mullen.
  • Ohio State: Player Watch: DE Chase Young.  Key Game: Sept 28th at Nebraska – Georgia transfer QB Justin Fields gets his first nerve-fraying road game. Skinny: Time for Buckeyes to get back to the CFP instead of worrying about trademarking, ‘The.’
  • LSU: Player Watch: SS Grant Delpit. Key Game: Nov. 9th at Alabama – If the Tigers want to get back to the SEC elite, no better place to start. Skinny: LSU always has some of the best talent in the country; does it now have discipline and coaching to match?

10. Notre Dame: Player Watch: OG Tommy Kraemer. Key Game: Sept 28 vs Virginia – One week after what figures to be a physical and emotional battle in Athens, can the Irish be ready for a resurgent Virginia program? Skinny: Coach Brian Kelly will need all the depth he’s built to handle this brutal schedule.

Woodstock,lessons learned, and lost by Neil Miller

Fifty years this weekend an event that has shaped a generation then and now, happened upstate.The things that lead up to Woodstock and the lessons from it still hold true today.

Its been said that Woodstock could never happen again,and that’s totally correct.The late 60’s brought together the greatest music of our times.The creativity, the variety and the energy of Janis,Carlos,Jimmy,Jerry,Jorma and Sly , and more could never be re-created.

.Although we have many fine groups now,with the over production of concerts we will never have the uniqueness of the music scene then.

So, what did we learn from Woodstock,and what lessons did we forget?We learned to share life in its fullness and the joy of music and companionship with all around us.We learned that those with political views tried to use that as a lever for their own purposes.We learned the strength of beliefs that bind a nation together.

And what lessons did we forget?we forgot that the musician of that time brought a vision of life as they saw it and shared it with the world. and we forgot then ,and today,that others[read that politicians} would try to use that against us.

The moral of this editorial is simple:trust in your beliefs,your heart, your love of life,family. god and country. Dont let others destroy what made our generation unique in what is was then and now.Do good in this life, to yourself and to others. Neil Miller/publisher nysportsextra copyright 2019

45 RPM Long Islands fun band by Neil Miller nysportsextra

Think of fun at any of the Long Island music spots and you think of 45 RPM. This band of Danny Calvagna ,vocals,Tony Tallarico keyboards,Mike Barberich lead guitar,Mike Hack, guitar, Simon Walsh ,bass and Linda Mackley drums,play all of the AM music favorites from the 60s on up.

From left to right Mike Barberich,Danny Calvagna and Simon Walsh Neil Miller /nysportsextra

Tonite was no exception, as the crowd a Maliblu at Lido Beach enjoyed their set.

Neil Miller /nysportsextra

Neil Miller /nysportsextra

Maybe the Yankees Will Get the Pitching Help They Need. Maybe Not

08/15/19 Cleveland Indians vs New York Yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny yanks trail 11-1 after 4 1/2 inning #43 Jonathan Loaisiga ” spit the bit” after giving a 2 run homer in the 1st inning Neil Miller /nysportsextra

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

From the moment the trade deadline came and went and the Yankees did nothing to bolster their pitching, the narrative coming from the front office went something like this: We’ve got some guys coming back from injury that will help us.

Um.

One of those players returned Thursday night and the results were frighteningly playoff awful.

Jonathan Loaisiga got lit up by the Cleveland Indians in a 19-5 Yankees loss. By the time Loaisiga entered the game, the Yankees already were in the soup. One-inning starter/reliever Chad Green didn’t even last an inning, giving up two home runs in just one-third of an inning.

08/15/19 Cleveland Indians vs New York Yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny #57 chad green fires down the rosin bag after giving up a grad slam to indians #11 jose ramirez in the 1st inning Neil Miller /nysportsextra

Enter Loaisiga. He gave up four earned runs on another two home runs.

Loaisiga’s performance was understandable. He’s been on the injured list since May 8th with a right shoulder strain. Maybe he’ll be better in his next outing. Maybe not.

jonathan loaisiga Neil Miller /nysportsexta

Maybe the Yankees will get back Luis Severino. Maybe not.

Maybe they’ll get back Dellin Betances. Maybe not.

delin bentaces file photo nysportsextra/Neil Miller

Severino (right shoulder) threw a 30-pitch bullpen session, using all of his pitches. Betances (right shoulder impingement) also threw a bullpen session. If they can return, both will certainly need a few outings to gauge their playoff readiness. There are 39 games left.

severino /Neil Miller /nysportsextra

For Yankees fans, this loss brought back nightmares of that late-July stretch against the Twins and Red Sox when the pitching got blown up. That was prior to the July 31 trade deadline. This was after. The Indians scored their 19 runs on 24 hits, seven of which were home runs.

While the Dodgers, Yankees and Astros are considered the favorites to win the World Series, the Indians are a legitimately dangerous team; exactly the kind of team that could take out the Yankees in the ALDS or ALCS.

The Yankees (81-42) have shown remarkable depth and resiliency but they haven’t been tested the way the Indians have. Cleveland (73-49), once trailed the Twins by 11 and one-half games in the AL Central. Those teams now are in a virtual tie for the division lead.

The Indians starting pitching is so deep they felt confident trading Trevor Bauer (who the Yanks had eyes on) to the Reds. In return, they got Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes – instantly upgrading their lineup – and lefthanded pitcher Logan Allen.

Puig went 2-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored. Reyes went 2-for-6. The Indians are optimistic they’ll get Corey Kluber (broken forearm) back soon. They also might get Carlos Carrasco (leukemia).

But the Indians made moves before the deadline, making them a better squad. So did the Astros (Zack Greinke). Even the Dodgers acquired lefty sidearm reliever Adam Kolarek, who could be the kind of thrower that becomes a postseason star.

The Yankees made no moves. Maybe Severino, Betances and Loaisiga will return and round into form before the calendar reads, “October.” Right now, it’s looking like maybe not.

NOTES: Pete Alonso became just the third rookie in Mets history to drive in six runs in a game in the team’s 10-8 win over the Braves. He also tied Cody Bellinger’s National League rookie record of 39 home runs set in 2017. That record is falling like the stock market.

Yanks trail the Indians 11-1 after 4 innings

A bad start to the game by #57 Chad Green lead to him giving up 5 runs. #43 Jonathan Loaisiga did no better, giving up 2 runs in the 1st and two in the 2nd inning

Mets Getting a Brutal Dose of Reality

#36 Mickey Callaway file photo Neil Miller /nysportsextra copyright 2019

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

When a team had been going as well as the Mets, when Citi Field had become a playground of thrills and chills, when the Wild Card had become a legitimate goal instead of a punch line, these last few games have served as a brutal reality slap.

Reality: Despite that amazing stretch in which the Mets won 15-of-16 they remain a flawed and thin team.

After Wednesday night’s 6-4 loss to the Braves in Atlanta, an eight-game win streak has been replaced by a three-game losing streak.

It was just this past Sunday that the Mets were even with the Washington Nationals for the Wild Card. This morning they are three games out of the playoffs, muddled with six other teams that are within 4.5 games of the two Wild Card spots.

After winning series against the Padres, Pirates (twice), White Sox, Marlins and Nationals, the Mets (61-59) are assured of losing their first series since July 18-21 when they dropped 3-of-4 to the Giants.

Suddenly, the Mets world seems dubious.

“We’re still in a good spot,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway told reporters. “It’s not the end of the world.”

It’s just starting to feel that way.

#36 Mickey Calloway file photo Neil Miller /nysportsextra copyright 2019

But that’s no reason to lose sight of the long view. No true Mets fan, I’m referring to the Mets fans that have seen the annual hope in April evaporate by the dog days of August, really believed this was a playoff team.

They might have been talking themselves into believing in a miracle but the flaws were too glaring to ignore. The bullpen was awful. The offense was anemic. The depth was shallow. The manager was suspect. And the vaunted starting pitching wasn’t living up to expectations.

We’ve seen several of those warts these last three games.

* Uncloser Edwin Diaz continued his train wreck of a season in the 7-4 loss to the Nationals.

#39 Edwin Diaz file photo Neil Miller / nysportsextra copyright 2019

* Starter Zack Wheeler was off in a 5-3 loss.

#45 Zach Wheeler file photo Neil Miller /nysportsextra copyright 2019

* Seth Lugo, whose been as good a reliever as anyone in baseball, got scorched Wednesday night.

* Callaway still is trying to convince the world he made the right decision pulling Steven Matz in the seventh inning of Wednesday night’s loss when the Long Island native had thrown just 79 pitches.

And during this three-game streak the Mets lost their best hitter, Jeff McNeil to a hamstring injury.

#6 Jeff Mc Neil bats file photo Neil Miller/nysportsextra copyright 2019

Now that the Mets have completed the cream puff portion of their schedule, the flaws are popping out all over once again. Even during the amazing run, one of the players most responsible for that success, was planting the seed that this Mets turnaround wouldn’t necessarily yield the desired result this season.

“At the end of the day or at the end of the year, we are going to be in a really good spot,’’ Alonso told reporters in early August.

The truth is the Mets are in a really good spot going forward. If they resign Wheeler, which they absolutely should, the Mets will have the best rotation in the game. Alonso, McNeil and Michael Conforto are big time hitters.

Bolstering the bullpen, adding another bat and depth, and finding another manager should be high on the offseason to-do list. If the Mets do that, 2020 could be special.

Is this season over? Of course not. Is the possibility of the playoffs kaput? No.

But reality can be a brutal slap. Just brutal.

The Undisputed Greatest NFL Players of All-Time

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

  Antonio Brown is having issues with his feet and helmet. Tom Brady is selling his Massachusetts house. Dak Prescott reportedly wants $40 million a year. Daniel Jones, booed just a few months ago, is headed to the Hall of Fame. So is Jarrett Stidham. And Kyler Murray has wrapped up the MVP.

Lord is it great to have the NFL back!

With Week 2 of the preseason upon us and Fantasy Football Owners cutting off all communication with loved ones, we offer you the best NFL players of all-time, position by position.

Feel free to vent!

OFFENSE

QB – Tom Brady: Pats – Yes, Dan Marino had a stronger arm. And you can make an argument for Joe Montana with the ball, down six, with 90 seconds left. But Brady has set a new standard.

RB – Jim Brown: Browns – The greatest offensive player of all time.

RB – Walter Payton: Bears – Made the stiff arm and the dead leg the envy of all backs.

TE – John Mackey: Colts, Chargers – Tony Gonzalez as better numbers Kellen Winslow was a better deep threat. But for receiving, blocking and toughness, Mackey gets the nod.

WR – Jerry Rice: 49ers – The master technician had DB’s beat at the line of scrimmage.

WR – Randy Moss: Vikings, Raiders, Pats, Titans, 49ers – At 6-4, 210, he redfined the WR position. Imagine if he played his entire career with Brady?

OT – Anthony Munoz: Bengals – Simply physically and mentally dominant, missing just three games in his first 12 seasons.

OG – John Hannah: Pats – If a cornerback had a choice of meeting a train or a pulling Hannah, well, it’s not a no-brainer.

C – Jim Otto: Raiders – Arguably the toughest player of all time, he underwent some 40 surgeries during and after his career.

OG – Bruce Matthews: Oilers, Titans – Mr. Versatile; started at all five OL positions – and dominated.

OT – Jonathan Ogden: Ravens – 6-9, 345 pounds of strength and athleticism.

PK – Justin Tucker: Ravens – He’s missed one PAT. One out of 242. And has nailed 90-percent of his field goal attempts.

KOR – Gale Sayers: Bears – In an injury-shortened career, the Kansas Comet averaged 30.6 yards per return and was the most breathtaking open-field runner ever.

PR – Devin Hester: Bears, Falcons, Ravens, Seahawks – The epitome of a cocky, electric Miami athlete; you sat up whenever he received a punt and headed upfield.

DEFENSE

DE – Reggie White: Eagles – No lineman was better against the run and pass. Or classier.

DL – Mean Joe Greene: Steelers – He wasn’t the meanest. But he was the ultimate disrupter for the Steel Curtain.

DL – Bob Lily: Cowboys: Headliner of the Dallas Doomsday Defense.

DE – Deacon Jones: Rams, Chargers, Redskins – Quarterbacks saw him in their nightmares. And in their waking hours.

LB – Lawrence Taylor: Giants – The greatest defensive player of all time.

MLB – Dick Butkus: Bears – Sorry Joe, Butkus was the meanest player of all time.

LB – Ted Hendricks: Colts, Packers, Raiders – Until LT came along, The Mad Stork was the standard for an OLB. Exemplary nickname.

CB – Deion Sanders: Falcons, 49ers, Cowboys, Redskins, Ravens – Arguably the greatest athlete to play the game in Prime Time, or any other time.

CB – Mike Haynes: Raiders – The most physical corner to play the game. NFL has become a passing league because of the style with which he played.

SS – Ronnie Lott: 49ers – Warning: Go over the middle at your own peril.

FS – Emlen Tunnell: Giants – Turned the safety position into an offensive threat with 1,282 yards in interception returns.

P – Ray Guy: Raiders – Didn’t just flip the field, he flipped the game.

Special Teams – Steve Tasker: Oilers, Bills – The 5-9, 183-pound, 9th-round draft pick made ‘Gunner’ a cool position with his hustle and hitting.

MANAGEMENT

Coach – Bill Belichick: Browns, Pats – 1. Sixteen AFC East titles. 2. Six Super Bowl championships. 3. Notice how many players leave N.E. for more money but never play as well? Notice how many players come to N.E. and have their best years?

GM – Tex Schramm – Not only did he draft some of the greatest players of all time (Lily, Tony Dorsett, Herschel Walker) but he was one of the first to scout small schools. And we wouldn’t have the combine if not for Schramm.

Mets fail to sweep the Nats on inconsistent pitching

08/11/19 Washington Nationals vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny #48 Jacob De Grom reacts after giving up 3 runs in the 1st inning today Neil Miller /nysportsextra copyright 2019

It would have been nice , but it was not to be on Sundays day game.A rare poor start to a game by Jake DeGrom, was follwed by a bad inning by both Gsellman and Diaz this afternoon, even tho the Mets pulled to a 5-4 deficent, the 2 run homer given up in the 8th inning sealed the deal today.

08/11/19 Washington Nationals vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny #48 Jacob DeGrom pitches in the 4th inning Neil Miller /nysportsextra copyright 2019

Although the Mets did take advantage of most of the chances today in the batters box,it wasnt enough to overcome the pitching mistakes today

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

One nice play was by Mike concorto making a catch in deep center field in the 5th innning

08/11/19 Washington Nationals vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny #30 Mike Conforto makes a leaping catching in the 5th inning Neil Miller /nysportsextra copyright 2019

Pinch Yourself: The Mets Are Never Out of a Game

Credit twitter

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

 When was the first time you pinched yourself Friday night?

Was it when Todd Frazier’s three-run homer left Citi Field faster than the Mets can print playoff tickets? Or was it when Michael Conforto launched the most thrilling single of the season, driving in Juan Lagares with the winning run in a stunning, thrilling, unbelievable 7-6 win over the Nationals?

Or was it Saturday morning when you awoke on planet Earth and it was confirmed that the Amazin’ events of last night were not a dream?

Conforto really was running shirtless in the outfield after the giddiest players not in the Little League World Series celebrated in short center. Dominic Smith, his injured left leg resting on a scooter, was violating some obscure city driving ordinance by tearing out to join the celebration.

“It felt like the playoffs with the stadium packed,’’ Conforto told reporters.

Yep, it felt like the playoffs. It felt like the playoffs In Citi Field not Yankee Stadium, where playoffs feel like an annual rite. The fans that call Citi Field home don’t enjoy October baseball very often. But they got a taste of it Friday night, and man, was that delicious.

Trailing 6-3 in the bottom of the ninth against the best National League team they’ve faced since the All Star Break, J.D. Davis doubled against Nationals closer Sean Doolittle. Wilson Ramos singled to center.

Frazier came to the plate with visions of going deep.

“Pretty much,’’ he admitted later.

Frazier should be charged with baseball abuse for how criminally he crushed Doolittle’s pitch. Game tied, 6-6.

“You don’t feel like you’re out of a game when you’re on a run like this,’’ said Frazier.

Ah yes. The Run. Perhaps that’s the title of the second half of the Mets season. The Run.

With Citi Field still reverberating from Frazier’s blast, more magic. Joe Panik, making his Mets debut, singled. He was erased on Lagares’ bunt. Jeff McNeil flied to right. Amed Rosario singled to left.

Up came Conforto, the former first-round pick in the 2014 draft and closest thing the Mets have to an elite bat. His hard, rising blast to right cleared Adam Eaton’s head and mayhem came to Queens.

The win marked the first time this season the Mets won a game in which they trailed after eight innings. Forty-four times the Mets had failed in that situation. But on this night, the Mets told themselves, and their fans, they are not the same old Mets.

They had won for the 14th time in 15 games, a feat not accomplished since 1990.

As the fans erupted in euphoric celebration, the Mets hopped the dugout railing and made a run for Conforto. Pete Alonso, not quite sure what to do in such scenarios, pulled off Conforto’s jersey.

The Mets are now one-half game out of the Wild Card and one and one-half games behind the Nationals for the first Wild Card.

“Right now, we’re firing on all cylinders,’’ Conforto said. “Our confidence is just building with each win.”

Go ahead. Pinch yourself.

Contenders or Pretenders: Time for the Mets to Declare

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 /nysportsextra copyright 2019

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

  Miracle Makers or Dream Teasers?

 The time has come for the Mets to declare.

They are the hottest team in baseball, having won 14 of their last 15. They have gone 20-6 since the All-Star Break. They are a season-high 12 games above .500. They are one-half a game out of the Wild Card.

One-half a game.

This weekend they face the question on everyone baseball fans’ mind, on their mind: Are the Mets contenders or pretenders?

The Washington Nationals, also a team once enduring a bust of a season, come to Citi Field for a three-game series  starting on Friday.  The Nat’s own the first Wild Card with a 61-53 record. The Nats were 19-31 on May, 23rd after getting swept by – the Mets. It was a four-game sweep.

Man, did the Nats turn it around.

Man, did the Mets turn it around?

#20 pete alonso file photo Neil Miller/nysportsextra copyright 2019

“You got to slay the giant so to speak,’’ rookie slugger Pete Alonso told reporters after Wednesday’s 7-2 dusting of the Marlins. “You have to go through these tough teams in order to get to the playoffs and when you get to the playoffs it’s just going to be that much harder.

 “If we keep playing the way we are, we’ve hit well, our defense has been awesome and our pitching has been light’s out, so I think that’s going to be a really tough combo.’’

This is the time to see just how tough are the Mets. They say their early-season struggles only made them tougher, closer, more confident. But were they tough players in a soft stretch.

Those 20 wins have come against the Marlins, Twins, Giants Padres, Pirates and White Sox.

If the season were to end today, only the Twins would be in the playoffs. The Marlins and Pirates occupy last place in their respective division. The Padres are half a game out of last place in the NL West.

The Giants, like the Mets, became buyers, not sellers at the trade deadline. They just got swept by the Nationals. Yes, the Nats already revealed one surging team to be a fraud.

Are the Mets next?

#36 mickey calloway in the dugout in the 3rd innning file photo Neil Miller nysportsexta copyright 2019

“What we’ve done is not easy but it’s in the past,’’ manager Mickey Callaway said. “Our focus is on the next game. The things that we’ve been through are going to allow us to be a better team than we otherwise would have been down the stretch. We’re trying to accomplish something as a team together that can be very special.”

Special? Yes. Magical? Perhaps.

The National were expected to be in the playoff discussion. They Mets were not.

The Mets recently lost Robinson Cano to a torn hamstring. The Nats will be without Bryce Harper, who just went on the Injured List with a bruised knee.

The field is even. Are the two teams? It’s time for the Mets to declare.

“We’ve got a chance to do something really great,’’ Alonso said.

They really do.

The Almost Brother Band at Shell Creek Park by Neil Miller nsportsextra

8/02/19 almost brothers band at the TOH mobile bandshell ,shell creek park, island park ny from left to right Sean Mc Grath, Joe Wasserman,Tom Hooker,Bob Owen,Dave Losse, and Dave Filloramo

This review is easy to do ! The Almost Brother Band is one of the most favorite Allmans cover band on the Island, and one of the most fun to listen to,and enjoy the crowd they always draw.The Brothers feature Sean McGrath and Dave Filloramo on guitars,Joe Wasserman keyboards,Tom Hooker bass,Bob Owen, vocals and percussion, and Dave Losse and Bruce Dickson ,drums.

above photos Neil Miller /nysportsextra copyright 2019

In my interview with Sean, we went over the beginnings of the band,and how the pieces went together together to form the current band.More importantly, was his vision of what the creative force and the direction of the band was.” We try to separate our band from others in that we take from the Allmans the inventive energy that had ,and bring that into our music”

The crowd at Shell Creek enjoyed favorites like Statesboro Blues,and Blue Skies amont others.

Salt Shack,the favorite place on the Ocean Parkway by Neil Miller nysportsextra

The 70’s band plays at The Salt Shack last Sunday night Neil Miller /nysportsextra

The Salt Shack is a venue I write about a few times a year, and with good reason.It features the best dance bands on the island.This Sunday was no exception with The 70’s Band taking the stage.

gallery by Neil Miller /nysportsextra

After a brief shower the band started around 7:30, with their always favorite mix of dance tunes.Please see the attached photos for all the fun.

galleries by Neil Miller/nysportsextra

Neil Miller nysportsextra

Pete Alonso is Mets driving force Neil Miller nysportsextra

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

Last nights 7th inning in the 2nd game of the double header was specila for the fans and the team.The recent comeback to go over .500 was capped by 2 homers by Mike Conforto and Pete Alonso.But Citifield just about exploded when Petes ball left his bat.

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 /nysportsextra

This story is just a side bar to the recent Mets push towards a playoff spot, but if they can keep this energy going, its going to be fun for the team and the fans

Great News for Jets: Darnold Needs No Protecting

Robbins Nest

Sam Darnold sets up to pass Friday, August 24, 2018. (Photo by Dave Pokress)

By Lenn Robbins

We’re way past the point of wondering if the Jets were lucky or good in the 2018 NFL Draft.

New York football fans that still want to rip the Giants for not drafting Sam Darnold – or any other quarterback they believe could spell, ‘franchise’ – can’t be the slightest bit disappointed in Saquon Barkley – a back for the ages.

We will be ridiculously fortunate to watch Barkley, who has the most impressive thighs outside of those featured in the S.I. Swimsuit issue. He will stop and start, change direction, accelerate, decelerate, catch passes, break off 50-yard touchdown runs and, yes, block.

In just his second season, Barkley is the most complete back in the league.

neil miller /nysportsextra

But can he lead a team to the Super Bowl in this era of carnival passing offenses? Can any back?

Doubtful. In this era of Air Raid offense, the quarterback is the common denominator: Have a great one and there’s a chance to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Have a mediocre one and maybe you win a title with a great supporting cast.

(Side note: Still don’t know where Nick Foles lands in this conversation).

The last team to win it all with a pedestrian quarterback was the Baltimore Ravens in 2012. Joe Flacco, who now is with the Denver Broncos, played a marvelous Super Bowl but it was the Ravens angry-mob defense that carried that team.

The Jets have the makings of a very good, potentially great defense. Once again, we don’t know if they were good or lucky to have Quinnen Williams drop to them with the No.3 pick, but he was the best player in the 2019 Draft.

The Jets also might have that elite quarterback in Darnold.

Darnold, 22, could be the best quarterback to wear a Jets jersey since Joe Namath. He could lead the Jets to only their second Super Bowl win in 59 seasons. The Ravens, for comparison, have won two in 24 seasons.

When it comes to Jets futility there is no shortage of reasons. For this space, it comes down to one fact – they have only had that superstar quarterback once. Once.

Now here is Darnold telling us that he feels great heading into the year and he’s right where he wants to be. His coach, Adam Gase, has gushed that he didn’t appreciate Darnold’s arm strength after Gase saw him live twice last season as the coach of the Dolphins.

Darnold played like most rookie quarterbacks last season.

He threw almost as many interceptions (15) as touchdowns (17). His passer rating (77.6) would put him in the ‘Also Receiving Votes” category for worst rookie quarterbacks of all time.

 One of those on the list is Eli Manning who threw nine interceptions, six touchdowns and a had a passer rating of 55.4 as a rookie. Manning turned out quite well, leading the Giants to two Super Bowls and a one-way ticket to Canton one day.

Now here stands Darnold, about to enter Year 2. He doesn’t not have the greatest arsenal of weapons although running back Le’Veon Bell, who was Barkley before Barkley, can hurt teams in a lot of ways. Darnold has a quarterback friendly coach in Gase. But he has something extra.

Darnold, the former USC quarterback, has a swagger that is the perfect pitch of subtle meets confidence. At his introductory press conference last season, when he was just 20 years of age, he was thrown a tough ball: Was he aware of the Jets quarterback tradition (gag!)?

“I’m aware of it,’’ he deftly responded. “Not growing up a Jets fan, I don’t understand quite to that extent. But again, I’m going to come in here and do my job and be very confident in myself.”

Darnold has a California-sized confidence. How else could he not have crumbled when his first NFL pass attempt turned into a Pick 6? (BTW: Brett Favre also had his first pass picked and returned as well.) Hey, Jets fans will take any morsel of hope that can nibble on.

Darnold took the blame for a couple of losses last season but he was never more accountable than after a 21-17 loss to the Browns.

“It’s not acceptable the way I played,” Darnold told reporters after the loss. “I just made stupid mistakes in the fourth quarter and some missed opportunities throughout the whole game. I have to play better, and that’s on me.”

The Jets franchise now resides on Darnold’s shoulders. He says he is more comfortable and confident than he was as a rookie. But it’s what Gase said that really gives Jets fans hope that finally, the savior has arrived.

“He’s not the kind of quarterback you’re looking to protect,’’ said Gase.

No, the Jets are looking for much more. So is Darnold.