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Polish Heavyweight From Brooklyn Has Implications Saturday on Division

Adam Kownacki will feel at home Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.  The undefeated heavyweight, 20-0-15 KO’s) from Poland and residing in Brooklyn is in the title mix. Brooklyn is his home and awaiting is a 12-round WBA title eliminator that headlines a FOX PBC fight night card.

credit Stephanie Trapp/TGB Promotions

He knows the implications. A win and there are possibilities of being in that mix with Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, or Deontay Wilder.   All three are in that mix.

Fury, the WBC champion took the title from Wilder two week ago, their second fight, and a trilogy is set in Las Vegas come July 18th.  Joshua, the other half of this equation will defend the unified WBA/IBF/WBO titles against mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev, at the new 70,000 seat Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on June 20.

After the two Fury-Wilder fights, one that resulted in a draw and the other that received a lot of hype, this heavyweight division has created a buzz and new faces.

Though, Kownacki, Polish born and residing in Brooklyn, is no stranger to  the Barclays Center. This will be Kownacki’s 10th fight at the venue. He has not only become a fan-favorite, but established as a contender in the red-hot heavyweight division.

Also March 7,  Kownacki, has another opportunity to showcase what it takes to end up on top of the heavyweight ladder and eventual quest to become the first Polish heavyweight champion in boxing history.

 Though, this heavyweight has that share of convincing wins in Brooklyn, that road to reach Fury, or Joshua, may have to wait.  Basically, the heavyweight division has become more interesting and any potential title fight with one of the champions won’t come soon.

Doesn’t matter to Kowancki. He will await for the opportunity because the road to get here was not easy.

“The division is wide open,” said Kownacki. “Right now, Tyson Fury is considered number one. But his previous two fights before the Deontay Wilder rematch weren’t that great. So how good is Fury really?” he said.  

 Kowancki,  among the top-ten heavyweights, did make a good point. He is the only one with a clean record, no losses or draws.

“ On Saturday, March 7, I have to prove that I belong in a title fight,” he said this week. 

The 30–year old,  in August on FOX, was the headliner at Barclays. He won an exciting action fight against former title challenger Chris Arreola. Now he will face a new challenge in the veteran Helenius, who has faced top competition throughout the world. 

He stands over six-feet six-inches tall, making him one of Kownacki’s most imposing opponents to date.

Once, the boxing world did not look at Fury as a serious contender in the division. The British star, who overcame battles with depression and substance abuse, is now the sensation of boxing and the heavyweight division.

Kownacki. also has that potential, though he is not a Tyson Fury story.  He does not give that presence of throwing a power right, a punch that placed Deontay Wilder in the talk of an all-time heavyweight great.

But, Kowancki is a draw and has a good story.  Brooklyn has welcomed him with fans and billboards.  Quickly, though, Kownacki, has become a part of that mix in a heavyweight division that has that cast of characters.

“This will be my second time headlining at Barclays Center and having the whole New York community, especially the Polish fans, coming out to support me really feels amazing,” he said. 

He has to push, shove, box, and of course punch. This fight will not be a walkover, more so, the implications for an upcoming title fight are on the line. This is the heavyweight division, and Kownacki, is making it that more interesting.

 He says about his opponent, Helenius (29-3-0) of Finland, “He’s much taller, which poses a new set of challenges. Against Arreola, it was easy to get on the inside. With Helenius’ height, I’m going to have to work behind my double-jab and then let my punches go.”

Yes, that’s the height advantage, 6ft-6 inch. Helenius also brings a 56.25 percent knockout ratio to the ring in 32 bouts.

“He’s very experienced and he’s been in there with a lot of talented fighters,” Kowancki said.  

His opponent, a former European champion, has fought and gone the distance  with Derek Chisora and Dillian Whyte. Both are big time heavyweights.  

“His experience is something I have to be careful with. I’m not looking past him at all,” Kowancki said.   The motivation, again at Barclays Center, will be those fans from his nearby Polish community that will become a third man in the ring. 

Anything is possible. 

But in this new and revived heavyweight division the unexpected  has become normal. 

FOX PBC Fight Night begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and features undefeated heavyweight sensation Efe Ajagba facing former title challenger Razvan Cojanu in the 10-round co-main event and rising heavyweight Frank Sánchez stepping in to face Philadelphia’s Joey Dawejko in the 10-round televised opener.

Viewers can live stream the PBC shows on the FOX Sports and FOX NOW apps or at FOXSports.com. In addition, all programs are available on FOX Sports on SiriusXM channel 83 on satellite radios and on the SiriusXM app.

Tickets are still available at the Barclays Center Box office and ticket outlets.

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

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The home Run Ball And Back At Short For Gleyber Torres

Gleyber Torres hit his first home run of the spring Saturday afternoon. The Yankees expect a lot of those long balls to be hit as Opening Day awaits in three weeks.  

#25 Gleyber Torres hits a 3 run homer on Feb 29,2020/Neil Miller/The New York Extra /copyright 2020

The home run went to the opposite field in right for three runs. Yes, a spring game and the pitchers at this juncture are still ahead of the hitters but this one was impressive.

And with the Yankees, expected to hit their share of home runs, perhaps without Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton in the Opening Day lineup, the bat of Gleyber Torres will be significant. 

“I don’t think about hits or home runs just winning the World Series,” said the 23-year old shortstop before heading to Tampa last month.

Though entering his third season, Torres has shown the home run ball has become a part of his routine. a natural swing, and it has quickly gained the attention of opposing managers and pitchers.

Simple, when Gleyber Torres comes to the plate the home run ball or hit is expected. He does admit, and says numerous times, “I am still learning and trying to get better.”

And it seems that getting better has come easy. Torres, already a two-time American League All-Star, is one of those Yankees’ “Baby Bombers’ ‘ that grew up fast. Basically, he is expected to produce at the plate and has become a difficult out.

“I want to be better every year,” he said. “Stay healthy is my first thing. Just be focused for the season and do my job to help.”

Last year: 38 home runs, 90 RBI, .871 OPS.  It’s simple, Gleyber Torres is not an easy out. The Yankees are in good hands from the right hand side in a lineup that has few left hand bats.

There has never been any doubts about Torres. He was acquired by the Yankees from the Chicago Cubs along with right-handed pitcher Adam Warren, outfielder Billy McKinney, and outfielder Rashad Crawford in exchange for Aroldis Chapman on July 25, 2016.

The trade, of course, all to the advantage of the Yankees. Chapman, re-acquired, is their outstanding closer. Torres, their future star up the middle in the infield.

And this upcoming season, Torres, goes back to his natural position at shortstop with the departure of Didi Gregorius to the Phillies. Second base, he handled, and for the most part there was that adjustment.

But being back at short in the Bronx, put it this way, that is a homecoming. 

He said, “I’m excited. I’m really comfortable at second base. I learned a lot about that position but I’m back at my position. I feel more comfortable. I don’t feel pressure in anything. I just want to play my game and try to win games.”

His presence in the Yankees clubhouse has grown. Torres, sits by himself, and it has been that way from the beginning. And, he  is not one to shy away from asking questions to some of the veterans that include longtime Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner.

Last season, the two could be seen chatting on the field. In the home clubhouse in the Bronx, Torres, a native of Caracas Venezuela, will chat with Gary Sanchez, and with the many Latino talent that comprise the Yankees roster.

And now in his third year, he is no longer known as a “Baby Bomber.” It’s the long home run balls he has hit out of the yard that have made him a promising part of this Yankees future.

That first spring home run is expected to be one of many more in 2020. His debut in 2018, and Torres became the second player in Yankees history to record at least two multi-home run games before turning 22 years old, joining Joe DiMaggio who had three in 1936.

Then he said, with his ability to speak English well, “ I just go with the pitch. I am never thinking home run ball.”

Last year, there were five multi -home run games, seventh of his young career.  He does have power, also, to all fields.

“ Definitely a big part of our going forward this year,” said manager Aaron Boone who has never had doubts. So Opening Day. at shortstop, Gleyber Torres will be slotted in the lineup.

Multi-home run games in Baltimore? That has become his favorite ballpark, 19 dingers out of Camden Yards last season. And a home run hitting ballpark in the Bronx can also add to his numbers this season.

But it’s not about the numbers. For Gleyber Torres, and the Yankees, It’s all about that one goal and winning the World Series.

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

Frazier Looking For Roster Spot As Yankees Look For Results

Tampa-  Clint Frazier is vying for an outfield spot on the Yankees roster and came to camp with that one goal to head north in four weeks. And if he is a part of the Opening Day roster there is every intention of Frazier getting playing time.

Clint Frazier hits a home run in the 1st inning of todays game feb 27,2020/NeilMiller/The New York Extra/copyright 2020

Time may be running out for the 25-year old, though relatively young, he has never shown the potential. Rumors of off-season trade talks the past two years and, Frazier is still wearing pinstripes. 

A fifth round selection in the 2013 MLB draft, Frazier, highly touted, has never lived up to potential for any number of reasons. 

He has the ability and there has never been a doubt about the production.  Frazier is a run producer, has power, and speed. The flaw has been lapses at times  in the outfield. He has always attributed that to mental mistakes.

But with an influx of outfielders on the Yankees 40-man roster, there is no room for mental mistakes.

And there was a concussion that limited his playing time last year. Clint Frazier, as baseball people will tell you, is a ballplayer. The Yankees have to make a decision about that roster spot.

The Grade-A calf strain injury to Giancarlo Stanton, that could open up the door for a roster spot.  Chances are, Stanton, does not rejoin the Yankees anytime soon, four weeks or more, and that rules out Opening Day for the often injured Yankees high priced slugger.

 In late September, as the Yankees prepared their roster for the postseason, the name of Clint Frazier was not there. Because the Yankees have had that influx in the outfield  it has been difficult to show that ability.

And with another season approaching the name of Clint Frazier will come up.  Do the Yankees pull the plug with a trade if there is no opportunity in the Bronx?

Frazier needs that opportunity to play everyday. The Yankees, his home grown team, may not be the answer.

“He’s had some bumps along the way, but I’ve never questioned how hard he’s worked at things,” said manager Aaaron Boone. “I will say there has been a real level of  focus and enthusiasm. Early on, he’s getting good results out of it.”

Thursday afternoon, Frazier, in his first at bat hit a home run. That paved the way for the Yankees in their 7-1 spring game win over the Tampa Bay Rays.  

The home run showed his power.  So does the bat speed that was never an issue. It impressed his manager.

Of course with more playing time this spring, Stanton out of the outfield equation, Aaron Hicks recovery from Tommy John surgery, more power from the right side will make the answer easier for Aaron Boone.

However, consistency has to be the key.  Frazier has never denied that was the issue. He wants to play, stay healthy, and be consistent.

“I still have to finish the camp healthy,” Frazier said. “I still have to go out there and perform and ultimately show them I  might be able to play the position the way they want me to if called upon.”

He will get his looks. Again  playing time and consistency will be the key. Most likely, a roster spot at this point does favor Mike Tauchman. He was the surprise addition last season that came through with a record number of Yankees injuries.

 Miguel Andujar is also getting some looks in left field after missing all last year with surgery to his right shoulder.

J.A.Happ pitches in the 1st inning on 02/27/2020/Neil Miller/The New York Extra/copyright 2020

ON THE MOUND: It’s no secret that J.A. Haap is now a key component to the Yankees pitching rotation with the season ending loss of Luis Severino and minus James Paxton, and Domingo German.

 Severino had successful Tommy John surgery in New York Thursday morning and will miss this season and most of next.

Gerrit Cole pitches on feb 25,2020/Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Haap will follow Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka in the rotation. 

Thursday, Haap, pitched three innings. One run, two hits, two strikeouts.  11 batters. Rookie Michael King, the Yankees top right-handed prospect would follow and tossed two innings of scoreless ball on two hits.

File photo, Jonathan Loaisiga/Neil Miller/The New York Extra /copyright 2020

Jonathan Loaisiga, 31.2 innings pitched, 4.55 ERA last year, stands the best chance of making the rotation as a possible fifth starter with a void in the Yankees rotation.

Deivi Garcia, the Yankees other top prospect will also get a look and will start Friday against the Braves.

“That’s one of my favorite things about this camp,” said Boone about the young pitching. “The amount of talented young pitchers we have that are starting to knock in that door a little bit.”

Thursday, 25-year old  Loaisiga, allowed no hits,  and struck out four of six. He has also pitched one hit of hitless ball in the first week of spring play.

Though, early,  Loaisiga is making an impression. Boone said the right-hander is in the plan but would not commit on a rotation spot. Again, pitching is a commodity and the Yankees are aware you never have enough.

You get the impression, Loaisiga will have a role.  “It could be some different roles,” Boone said.  

 Haap, more importantly, has to play a role and the Yankees decision  to not trade him this off-season has turned out to be the proper move.

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

More Injuries A Theme Of Yankees Camp

Tampa- One after another and injuries as it was last year for the Yankees. They set the MLB record for injured players last season, 30, and replacements were capable of getting them 100 wins and a AL East division title.  

Four weeks from Thursday Opening Day looks like a repeat of 2019.

File photo /Neil Miller/The New York Extra /copyright 2020

Luis Severino is lost for the year, and for a part of next and undergoes Tommy John surgery Thursday morning in New York. That was a blow to starting rotation, already without James Paxton, out with a bad back that keeps him off the mound for a month or two.

New York Yankees right fielder Giancarlo Stanton /File photo/Neil Miller/Ther New York Extra/copyright 2020

Now, the latest, and nothing new with Giancarlo Stanton. The outfielder/ designated hitter was diagnosed with a Grade 1 right-calf strain and will probably miss Opening Day. 

Depending on the severity, Stanton, who missed a majority of time last year will be out four or more weeks. So, another major player and with a huge contract is among the Yankees walking wounded.

Call it a jinx, but some teams are creatures of habit with injuries. The Mets, only a few years back, struggled to keep a lineup and pitching rotation in tact with one injury after another.  

Baseball can be a grind, but without a regular season game in the books, the Yankees are hurting.  They changed their medical staff and that has not made a difference.  

New York Yankees starting pitcher Domingo German #55 /File photo /Neil Miller/ The New York Extra/copyright 2020

Though, without Severino and Paxton, and without  Domingo German, fulfilling a MLB domestic violence suspension, the Yankees have lost three of their six that are considered quality starters. 

Yes, could be a hex. German, though, is expected back at some point in mid-June but will go through that season-in spring training routine before getting a start.

And the Yankees have not seen Stanton, the former NL MVP, at his potential. Injuries have kept him off the field and the home run production had not been evident.  

Right fielder Aaron Judge #99 /File photo /Neil Miller/The New York Extra/copyright 2020

Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge do have that capability of combining for 80 or more home runs, but they have hardly been in the lineup at the same time . 

Oh, Aaron Judge? He has yet to take part in a spring game and the Yankees are saying it will be soon. You see, Judge, has not been healthy also which also leads to this recurring issue of Yankees’ more on the injured list than on the field.

So what gives here? The Yankees are not denying they have an issue. But they can’t explain the rash of injuries that are a carry over from last season and from all standards an explanation as to why is difficult to determine.

Players today, more than yesterday, are prone to getting injured. The off-season condition programs are more. They are intense and weight training can take a toll. 

But the players will deny that conditioning has nothing to do with an injury. They say, it is that coincidence. Injuries are a part of the game.

However, as in the case with the Yankees, the injuries lead to more questions and makes the job for GM Brian Cashman that more difficult. Though last year, again, Cashman became the baseball wiz in finding the appropriate replacements.

Gio Urshela became a star and the season ending injury to Miguel Andujar became an afterthought. Mike Tachman, Mike Ford, two more that became viable replacements and could still be a part of the Yankees mix when the final roster is constructed.

But the panic button should not be pushed with these latest setbacks, though, Severino, is turning out to be a bad investment in the second year of a four- year deal of $40 million and throwing 12 innings last year. 

And if the Yankees score those tons of runs, as expected, they will get through these setbacks. But they need a healthy Stanton and Judge in the lineup. 

 One insider said to this columnist, “It’s the way the game has changed,” He was referring to the strength and conditioning of ballplayers, again a probable cause of the Yankees and their injury ward. 

He said, and in the situation with Severino, the arm is not made to throw 100- mile fastballs and mixed in with the amount of breaking balls. 

“Sandy Koufax threw a fastball and a curveball. It doesn’t work,” he said. “Severino complained in September. He didn’t go for the MRI. If they had put that dye in him for testing in September, you would see him on the mound.”

 As for filling the void, the Yankees always seem to find a way.  

“This time of year, you always look from within and see if you can give opportunities for what you have,” Cashman said. 

Regardless, pitching is a commodity, valued, and you never have enough. Sources also said the Yankees are not leaning towards signing veteran free agents. 

Jason Vargas, Andrew Cashner, Clay Buchholz are on the market.   

So with the highest payroll in the game, and with the same old issue of keeping players healthy, where do the Yankees go to fill the void? Also, outfielder Aaron Hicks, with an extended and lucrative contract is in that injury mix. 

Hicks, continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery.

Recovery and filling the void are the theme of this Yankees spring training camp. 

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

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Mets Camp: Davis Expected To Be Okay And Tebow Hits A Home Run

Lakeland Fla. –  J.D. Davis became the first casualty during the Mets spring training camp Tuesday afternoon.  He left the game against the Tigers in the fifth inning after diving for a ball at third base and jammed his left shoulder.

Neil Miller/The New York Extra

An MRI is scheduled for Wednesday and the Mets will await the results.  Davis, slated to be the starting left fielder on Opening Day, could see some playing time at third base for manager Luis Rojas.

When questioned, Davis said to NewYorkExtra.com “I think it’s minor. Just achy and tight. Right now. We will see tomorrow.”

Neil Miller/The New York Extra

The Mets are hoping for the best. Last season, Davis, the surprising acquisition from the Houston Astros, hit .307 with 22 home runs in 453 at bats.  He had some lapses in left field and this offseason worked on correcting the flaws.

In the lineup, the Mets are that much better. Davis can be a cog at cleanup or batting third.  In the event of a setback pending the MRI, there are some positives. 

Yoenis Cespedes is working his way back to the lineup and that adds some depth for a Mets team that is in discussion as a possible winner of the NL East.

To win the division, or take a NL wild card, they will need the consistency of Davis in the lineup and on the field.

“It was a little bit of pain,” Davis said. “But it’s fine now. 

The MRI is precautionary and to assure there is no structural damage. The Mets have not had a share of any injuries since the start of camp. Most of the emphasis has been Yoenis Cespedes. 

Since his off-season run-in with a boar, their high profiled player with a restructured contract, has been on the field. Stretching, running, throwing in the batter’s box, and all looks good for Cespedes. 

That leads to optimism that the name of  Yoenis Cespedes will be in the lineup or off the bench in the first few weeks of the season. Davis also said he is not concerned this will be a setback. Again, the MRI will confirm more. 

“Three out of ten,” he said about the concern level.

And the Mets are hoping for a ten.  In the unlikely event that Davis is out for some time, the Mets, with  depth, could go with Dominic Smith in left. He is slated to get playing time off the bench and possibly backup Pete Alonzo at first.

Neil Miller/The New York Extra

THE LAST TIME FOR TEBOW? Tim Tebow hit his first home run in Mets camp Tuesday. It was his first ball hit out of the yard in his fourth spring training invite with the Mets.

And this could be his last hurrah. Time is of the essence. Tebow, 32- years of age, is not getting any younger when it comes to baseball standards to achieve his goal of being on the Major League level. 

 He signed as a Minor League free agent in September of 2016, and hit .163 last season for Triple A-Syracuse before sustaining a laceration to a finger that curtailed his time. The year before, at Double-A Binghamton it was a broken wrist that ended his season.

“I had a chance to see a few and just tried to be tight and on time,” Tebow said about the home run in the Mets 8-6 spring loss to the Tigers. 

The Mets have tried the Tim Tebow experiment and at times it has been a marketing ploy. After seeing some success at Double-A Binghamton, and a 2018 Eastern League All-Star spot, there was speculation  in 2018, when rosters expanded, that Tebow would make his Major League debut at Citi Field.

But that never transpired which leads to 2020 as being his last opportunity. With the Mets set in the outfield, and the game getting younger, that leaves Tebow with limited time to make the jump to the big leagues.

“I feel like I’m seeing the ball pretty good,” Tebow said.

He has been reaching base in three Grapefruit League games, walks, and of course the home ball that got the crowd popping in Lakeland. You see, Tim Tebow has always been that role model and fans do gravitate to him.

In the end, a roster spot, even with an extra man at 26, may not be enough. Tebow, though, is content and will continue to fulfill his goal as that two-star professional athlete.

“The good athlete that he is, and as coachable as he is, he’s going to keep improving in every area,” said Mets manager Luis Rojas.

And for Tom Tebow, that’s as good as it gets. 

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

Dwight Gooden Continues His Recovery and Hopes The Same For Baseball

Doc Gooden has battled the demons with a history of alcohol and substance abuse. There are setbacks and the Cy Young Award pitcher of the Mets, who had a revival with the Yankees, is still coping and in therapy.

Rich Mancuso/The New York Extra

Late last year, Gooden, was arrested, not far from his home in Piscataway, New Jersey.  He was driving, incoherent, and pulled over by police officials. 

 For Gooden, who has been in and out of rehab the past few years, this was another setback. The demons still haunt the All-Star pitcher. perhaps, as many say, the best Mets pitcher next to Tom Seaver.

Rich Mancuso /The New York Extra

But for those who care, and many do, Dwight Gooden is fighting those demons and helping others to deal with alcohol, substance abuse, and the awareness of mental illness.  

Tuesday night, at the Regal Theatre in Times Square, there was Doc. He was part of a panel after viewing a screening of  “The Way Back” a Warner Brothers film starring Ben Alfleck that hits the screens on March 6th.

The synapsis:

Jack Cunningham (Ben Affleck) once had a life filled with promise. In high school, he was a basketball phenom with a full university scholarship, when suddenly, for reasons unknown, he walked away from the game, forfeiting his future. Now years later, Jack is spiraling down, triggered by an unspeakable loss, and drowning in the alcoholism that cost him his marriage and any hope for a better life. When he is asked to coach the basketball team at his alma mater, which has fallen far since his glory days, he reluctantly accepts, surprising no one more than himself. As the boys start to come together as a team and win. He would relapse, was dismissed as the coach, and entered therapy.  

“Mine was drugs, his was alcohol, the same thing,” Gooden said. 

The real Dwight Gooden, he  was speaking from experience. He bonded with Eric Kussin, Founder and CEO of “We’re All A Little Crazy” an organization that takes a message across the board in getting the message towards mental health awareness and substance abuse. 

They go under #Same Here.  Gooden, has made another rebound and is doing well. Next week, the Mets will welcome him for a week at their spring training complex in Port St. Lucie Florida. 

 He could relate to the trials and tribulations, a basketball coach, fighting the demons and  using sports as an outlet. There was a correlation here, Gooden and baseball as his outlet. This coach and basketball as the outlet.

“Getting back to something he truly loved,” Gooden said.  “ He had to fill that void. Once he went to treatment, he found peace and a way to forgive himself with alcohol.”

“Forgive,” Gooden said.

 He has seen that with family, friends,  more so, after his latest setbacks. Getting out there to the public, as he did Tuesday night, is the Dwight Gooden approach to feeling better and informing those about a way to seek help.

They relate to the athlete. They relate to the  exploits of Dwight Gooden. They understand the demons, a part of mental illness that are a part of the drug and alcohol abuse syndrome.

“With me spending time with my kids and grandkids, I can be there with my grand kids,” Gooden said. “That is part of his outlet. So are school activities, or sports.” 

So, Dwight Gooden continues with his recovery. He remains a part of the Mets family and baseball is his passion. This recent signal-cheating scandal, that has rocked Major League Baseball, is causing opinions and lots of that controversy.

The game could be in trouble. Dwight Gooden with 16- years of stardom and the accolades has his opinion.

“Cheating always been a part  of the game,” he said. “Technology,  unfortunately, makes it tougher with cameras and all that stuff. During my time third base coach, first base coach, tried to get the signs and motion to the hitter.”

That wasn’t fair, and cheating for the most part is a part of every sport if they don’t get caught red handed.  But the use of technology made it easier for the Houston Astros. 

By all means, this story is far from over. It has more drama than the upcoming Presidential election, and has the attention with a 2020 season ready to commence in five weeks. 

“For me, I’m ready for them to move on from this,” Gooden said.

Technology or not, hitters have a way of knowing what a pitcher is going  to throw. Gooden, discounts all of the buzz about that Jose Altuve walk-off home run off Aroldis Chapman.

The home run of 2019, not 2017, put the Astros in the World Series. The buzzer, Gooden has no theory. The Yankees, according to Gooden, did not hit  and that was a main cause for another postseason series loss to the Astros.

“Good hitters know what you are going to throw,” he said.  

Ask Gooden, the late Rusty Staub, on opposite sides, could always hit a Dwight Gooden heater. At that time, Staub, told Gooden, he was tipping those pitches.  

Years later, though, it’s technology that has caused all of the turmoil. It’s not getting the signs from a coach from that first or third base side. And it has nothing to do with tipping the pitches.

So, Dwight Gooden,and his recovery continues. Baseball had a setback and will eventually recover as the game did once with a nasty steroid scandal. 

Dwight Gooden, he  continues to love the game. That is his outlet.

More info about Eric Kussin: eric@wearreallalittlecrazy.org  #Same Here

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Yoenis Cespedes Was Silent And We Need To Get Answers

“Not today, not tomorrow, not at all this year.” 

File Photo /Neil Miller/ New York Mets center fielder Yoenis Cespedes #52

Welcome to the 2020 baseball season of Yoenis Cespedes. Yes, those were his comments, Monday, when he emerged on the field down in Port St. Lucie. He saw the media and those were his first comments in over a year.

Nothing new, and of course nothing gained. This is the world of Yoenis Cespedes. This is common ground for the Mets high profiled player that will play out the final year of a contract that was restructured.

File Photo /Neil Miller/ New York Mets center fielder Yoenis Cespedes #52

So there was nothing interesting or new to report. Yoenis Cespedes, was himself and there should be no shock. However, he owes Mets fans more about today, tomorrow, and the months ahead. 

File Photo /Neil Miller/The New York Extra/ New York Mets center fielder Yoenis Cespedes #52

He said, “I don’t want to,” when asked for some comments. And from all indications, unless Cespedes, needs to acclimate again, we will never get a response about the new contract and incidents with wild boars at his nearby ranch that resulted in a fractured ankle

Before that, multiple surgeries to remove calcification from two heels. And all of this was unexpected. We needed more explanations and that hardly came. 

From the beginning, when he arrived in New York, the July 31, 2015 trade deadline, this has all been about Yoenis Cespedes. He hardly gave the right words, then, in a productive second half of the season that helped the Mets to the World Series. 

And he was a loss for words, after re-signing with the Mets, a lucrative three-year $75 million contract a year later with an opt out.  

And then more a loss of words, recurring injuries, that kept him off the field. His last game with the Mets, July 20, 2018, before the restructured contract from $26.million to $ 6 million with incentives.

We still want to know his outlook for 2020. How will Yoenis Cespedes work his way  back into a Mets lineup that could use his bat. Left field, first base? Off the bench?

Position and where in the lineup will be determined, a task for rookie manager Luis Rojas. Attitude and avoiding the media, a task. The frustration for yours truly and those who cover the Mets on a daily basis leaves room for more questions.

But nothing new, except this is the big market team. New York, and with a big market player that will eventually have to come out of hibernation and answer the questions. 

Most of all, Mets fans do deserve to get the answers. This was the high profiled free agent they wanted. The Wipons, they can;t be blamed. They pursued and signed the player, a free agent sort of a bust along the lines of Mo Vaughn and other bad contracts that arrived in Flushing.

So, don’t blame Fred and Jeff Wilpon here. They made the move, but it backfired.  But, Yoeneis Cespedes has to speak. Eventually he will. 

What is more important, and hoped, is a healthy Yoenis Cespedes on the field. In the  lineup, if productive, the Mets will be that much better and in the hunt for a division title or wild card spot.

 Luis Rojas, in the meantime, will do the talking for Yoenis Cespedes. The manager has a first hand look at the mood and updates where his high profiled player stands.

“It’s a big day for him,” said Rojas. “He joined the guys and that’s where our focus is going to be with him. He’s being able to progress into playing at some point. We don’t have a timetable. That’s our focus right now.”

But, Yoenis Cespedes will never help his cause, more so with the media, if he refuses to face the media. More importantly, the responsibility to answer comes with being that big time player in New York.

Over the years, Alex Rodriguez, amidst the controversy, would duck the media numerous times in a clubhouse across town in the Bronx with the Yankees. 

We adjusted then, Eventually, A-Rod would face the music, and In so many ways that was worse with a steroid controversy, At the time, a complicated contract, highest in the game, made it more difficult to get the answers.

However, through it all, Yoenis Cespedes, is no Alex Rodriguez. One World Series with the Mets, that was Cesepdes. Production on the field that came from A-Rod and a 2009 World Series for the Yankees. 

But the mood and character of the players, very similar, in a city of New York that expects a high profiled player to live up to the contract and face the music, either good or bad.

Tuesday is another day, Yoenis Cespedes will be on the field down In Port St. Lucie.

Not today, not tomorrow, not all year, is not what we want to hear.

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

Inside The Business: Warriors Of Wrestling

WrestleMania season of the year is here. Yeah, that’s a yearly WWE event and equivalent to Super Bowl Sunday for a pro wrestling fan. This time of year the aspiring pro wrestler begins to get that bug.

 There are a few good training grounds for beginners in the New York City area. Those who rent space and own facilities are prepared for the rush. After  WrestleMania Sunday, the inquiries begin.

Like boxing, after a major blockbuster, there is an itch to get started. 

“They come and go,” Joe Bellini said about students who give it a try at his Warriors Off Wrestling training space in the Fun Station USA entertainment  facility located on Victory Boulevard in Staten Island. 

 He got that itch as a youngster and later got trained by WWE Hall of Famer Johnny Rodz in Brooklyn at the legendary Gleasons Gym. But after working the independent circuit, and not getting the big contract,  it was time to stay in the business.

For a fee of $150.00 per month, no down payment, 25 students that are regulars get the opportunity to perform in front of a crowd. They show their skills at monthly shows with schools and churches as venues in the New York area.

Yes, this is a training ground. But they perform as good as some of the talent seen during nine hours of televised pro wrestling per week. 

“We drill,” says Bellini.  “Film how to take a shoulder tackle, walking through footwork.  Real big here on safety and fundamentals. They come from Brooklyn, the Bronx, New Jersey and Staten Island.”

This week the next step was in progress for Warriors Of Wrestling (WOW) as they are known. They  are preparing for their next show March 6th, at Saint Finbar’s Catholic Church, a parish on Bath Avenue in Brooklyn.

And it does not matter how many are there because the students of the craft, talent in the ring, get another opportunity to showcase their skills. It’s not WWE talent and the names  Brock Lesnar or Roman Reigns.

They go by the names of Mike Harvey, Tony Booze, Vinny Pacifico. There are a few females also, not the WWE Diva, but looking to go that route.

On the March 6th show, former WWE superstars,  Gangrel and Demolition will be in the ring. They, of course, will be giving the WOW talent that significant boost of confidence and some tips of the trade.

And this is a business. Again, not the WWE, but training  grounds like this and you never know what the future holds.

“Hard  to run a show and put on a match,” Bellini said in between training a group about the holds and submissions.  “I have to worry about everybody, the doctors, the athletic commission.”

The New York State Athletic Commission does not license the talent. In years past they made sure to collect revenue on those fees. Instead, they charge promoters to run a small show. 

Bellini, in other words, does not make a profit. He will be at the venue in a few weeks  there to promote his students and provide them with exposure.

“They kill us,” he said about the commission and their fees.

 Understand, though, a licensed and experienced doctor must be present for safety precautions. In years past, tickets were accounted for with a manifest and that is a thing of the past. Regardless, organizing a small show, assuring that everything is properly in place, that is a major task.

So at the training facility, in the far end is a wrestling ring. You hear the pounding of bodies hitting the mat. And watching these guys take those bumps is a part of their game

They get bruised, injured. One student watched the training. On the sidelines,similar to a ballplayer, he is itching to get back in the ring in a few weeks after sustaining an injury to his shoulder.

Out of character, they are like you and me. All pro wrestlers are in a way considered athletes with an understanding this is also known as sports entertainment. They follow a script and at times will deviate.

They learn  in their training facilities. Outcomes of what to expect in a few weeks? That  remains to be determined. This is pro wrestling and anything is possible which adds to the suspense.

And  it all starts for Warriors Of Wrestling  at Fun Station.

Contact WOW for more information about training and upcoming shows: Warriors of Wrestling.com

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

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Paxton And Rotation Void Await Yankees Spring Training Question

With James Paxton the Yankees are that much stronger with their starting rotation. He is the first and early casualty injury and out of the rotation for what is expected to be four months with spinal surgery to a herniated lumbar disc.

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

You can say this is not a good start for the Yankees with pitchers and catchers reporting to Tampa. And  a record number of injuries last season, the Yankees were able to win 100 games, and get to the ALCS. 

So one would say the Yankees will be fine.

You can also say, the Yankees are deep without Paxton. You can say the Yankees with Geritt Cole are in a deeper position with their rotation.

Not bad with Cole, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, and J.A. Happ. But they still need a number five starter and avoid the opener that became a constant last year..

 But this latest injury, and  by all standards, should not hinder their rotation. Though, there is the concern that the absence of Paxton will have an impact based on his finish in the second half last year with a 3.82 ERA,

And it is a blessing that the Yankees did not trade Happ, a  subject of trade talks this off-season.

GM Brian Cashman will be looking in.  That Number 5 spot in the rotation will become one of the few decisions to determine before Opening Day in seven weeks.

“There’s a competition now for whoever wants to step up and take it,” Cashman said.

The prevailing thought, and heard often, the Yankees could go with top prospect Deivi Garcia, or, 27-year old Jordan Montgomery. A longtime scout, and with knowledge of the Yankees, said that either would be the option.

But there is that caution with Montgomery. The 27-year old lefthander was limited to four innings last year after his recovery from Tommy John surgery.

“Montgomery is there but with that eye of caution,” he said. The obvious concern is the four innings after his recovery from  surgery and being placed in that fifth role.” 

With that being said, and with the loss of Paxton, there will be that question and who gets the fifth spot? One thing we know is the Yankees never fall short in getting their needs.

The thing here, it is not easy to fill a void in the rotation, more so with the unexpected circumstances of Paxton. The Yankees, though, saw that void last year without having  the availability of Severino until September.  

This year could be different with the addition of Cole, but that’s one part of the equation. You can’t expect Cole to duplicate his Cy Young Award season and be the complete piece every fifth day but the expectations are riding on him. 

 Manager Aaron Boone said about Montgomery “ He had a really good off season. He has proven himself at this level.”

Assume the  Yankees decide to slot in Montgomery as the beginning option. They can also put Garcia in the pen. Remember, also, this is a 26-man roster now.

Garcia or Montgomery could change roles, all depending of course on what transpires in those early season games of April. There is always a need to carry an added pitcher and with the roster expansion this could lead to more possibilities.

“They have depth,’ said the scout.

He mentions Jonathan Loaisiga, the 25-year old right-hander, 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA in eight career starts, 5.13 ERA in 16 relief stints  with the Yankees. Loaisiga, starter or could be dispatched out of the bullpen, and that is part of the depth.

Luis Cesa, “Capable and can give the Yankees some innings before going to the pen,” he said  Cesa, 27, has 234 innings on his resume and the most experience among the options.

Also,  24-year old right-hander Michael King, in the Yankees minor league system,  has developed a reputation for throwing strikes and getting the ground ball out.

Waiting, Domingo German, the most reliable Yankees starter last year. He has to fulfill a domestic violence suspension and won’t be available until June. 

So, yes, the loss of James Paxton will have an impact. But from the looks of things it’s not all that bad for the Yankees and this number five slot. 

Of course the expectations are Severino, Tanaka, Haap, and Cole will get it done.

In the meantime, filling that void for James Paxton will be one of the few storylines in the weeks ahead down in Tampa.

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Defense And No Offense Again For Fordham in Conference Loss

Again it was the Fordham defense that made it a game against Richmond up at the Rose Hill Gym Saturday afternoon. Similar to other outcomes it was the Rams inability to score that led to a 59-53 loss.

File photo /Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Fordham lost their fourth straight. It wasn’t their defense as they held Richmond, a team that can score, to 23 points in the first half. But as the conference schedule winds down, Fordham 7-15 overall, 1-9 A-10, can’t get both sides of the game on the same page.

Coach Jeff Neubauer, he  is looking at a way to get this offense going.  It has to be more than one that is open for the shot. It has to be making those baskets in a league that thrives on offense. 

Regardless, this was your typical brand of Fordham basketball. Yes, defense is good, Fordham leads the A-10 in scoring defense and is ranked 16th in the NCAA.

“Defensive effort in the first half is never perfect, but it’s amazing that’s what it’s gotta be,” Neubauer said.  “That’s who we are. Second half still good but needed to be amazing in the second half.”

He was referring, though. to that second half and inability to score.  Antown Portley scored 12 points, Ty Perry added 11 and Jalen Cobb 10. They have been part of the mix.

But the Rams need more. If not, all that defense won’t be enough to escape a bottom seeding next month in the conference tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

 Portley, in his last four games after sustaining an early season injury to his leg, has scored 37 points.  But the senior- guard can’t do this alone with a need for others to get the offense going. 

Neubaurer, has always looked at Portley to take that open shot. Part of the Rams second half eight-point run, that gave them a 44-36 lead, was a run to the basket for Portley.

He also found an open and  converted a 3-pointer beyond the arch. Again, if it wasn’t for the defense, the final outcome could have been wider.

“Good to have him back,” said Neubauer. “His minutes helped. He’s one of our better players. We are a better team when he makes the shots.  We encourage in general that the ball moves.”

This is not to say that the Rams are overmatched. With their defense they have been in games. Last Saturday, at  8th ranked Dayton, it was a game before losing 70-56. 

“We play as a team,” Neubauer said. “When you gave a guy with creativity it makes us better.”

Portley has that creativity.

But this Richmond team, striving to move up the standings in the conference, they have it all.  They have deep scoring and that ability to stop a run at the right time 

Jacob Gilyard scored 23 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Blake Francis added 18 points for the balanced Spiders offense. 

The Spiders have won three straight, 17 of their last 18 meetings against Fordham, that included an elimination game at Barclays last March in the A-10 Tournament.

“Their style  for us to hold them to 59, there’s a lot of good defense in there but not enough for us to win,” Neubauer said. 

No, not enough Saturday to win a conference game. And with time running out the Rams are destined to finish last or next to last in the conference. The defense has been consistent the last seven games but  that offense has to chime in.

 If not,  it will be the same story Tuesday night at Davidson.

“We have to find  more baskets somewhere in our roster,” Neubauer said. “ More open looks. I’d like to see more guys produce more.  We need everyone to play a little better.”

He wasn’t kidding. Because at Rose Hill this has become a defensive game and you can’t win games in this conference without the offense.

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