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Let's Wait Til August And Determine The Worth Of Dellin Betances

file photo The New York Extra

There is this assumption, Dellin Betances is the answer.  The Mets hope he is that difference maker out of the bullpen with this one-year $10.5 million guaranteed contact with options for the 2001 and 2002 seasons. 

And to most insiders, the Mets will have that difference maker, assuming the 31-year old Right-Hander recovers from a shoulder injury and partial Achilles tendon tear.

Said a NL insider to yours truly, “Betances is a risk. If he stays healthy, the Mets got a bargain and will have that lethal bullpen.”

As good as this signing is, assuming again that Betances stays on the mound, the Mets did get that missing piece in the bullpen. The objective and mission of  GM Brodie Van Wegenen, revamp and obtain their need. 

The addition adds to other issues before making more assumptions as to the Mets now having that lethal bullpen. They need a turnaround seasons from Jeurys Familia.  

Most of all they need that turnaround from Edwin Diaz, the offseason bust of last year. Diaz, has to rebound and become the closer, a stopper who saved 57 games for the Mariners two years ago.  

Justin Wilson and Seth Lugo are expected to continue where they left off and be as reliable as they were in that second half run of last season.

And if Brad Bach, along with the addition of Michael Wacha are successful, rookie manager Carlos Beltran could have that lethal bullpen. Then again, the reliable bullpen guys in baseball could also have a downfall, so anything is possible during the span of a 162-game baseball season.

And all along, it was the failure of the Mets bullpen that cost them to do something more last season. 

But,  let’s look at the positive here and talk more about this in August. By then, Dellin Betances, a top and late innings reliever, could be a bust or a success. 

If anything, this could be a low budget risk.  Or it could be a low budget highlight for the Mets 2020 season that does not seek a repeat of 2019 disasters out of the bullpen. 

The Mets were not supposed to be in this hunt. Last week there was talk the Dodgers, Phillies, or the Twins were the teams in the mix, and that NL insider said, “Those teams were not willing to go with the risk.”

The risk, Dellin Betances would not be effective and continue to have issues with the shoulder or the Achilles. Mets hierarchy had a different opinion and claim their latest weapon will be ready to go when pitchers and catchers report to spring training in seven weeks. 

Next week, at Citi Field, Betances will be formally introduced. He will have facial hair that is not accepted in the Bronx. We are aware of his history with the Yankees after eight seasons, and a familiarity this  native New Yorker brings to the table as a perennial All-Star and strikeout artist.

Betances has posted a 2.36 career ERA (100 earned runs/381.2 innings) with 36 saves and 621 strikeouts in 358 major league games with the Yankees. He established a record with 100 strikeouts or more in five consecutive seasons with the Yankees. 

He and Diaz gives the Mets two of the top strikeout leaders coming out of a bullpen that baseball has seen two of the last three years.

This all looks good and the Mets may have the ”Four Legged Monster” out of the bullpen with Diaz, Familia, Betances, Wilson, or Seth Lugo. 

But the results have to show on the mound and they need to remain healthy. 

For now, we will give this a chance. Because the Mets had that need to revamp an area that failed them last season. 

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

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Some Holiday NY Sports Cheer

So it goes. Another holiday season is here and from yours truly to yours a Merry Christmas and Happy holidays.

There were the usual highs and lows during the 2019 sports year in New York. From the abysmal Knicks, to the continued regression of the Jets and Giants, the Yankees failure to close the decade without another championship. 

And the Mets, of course, awaiting the check book of billionaire Steve Cohen as they try to contend and deliver.  Hockey is healthy as the Rangers and Islanders are at a pace to be contenders for playoff position.

With all of this, and more, here is that annual Christmas list for the New York sports fan. A little of everything and not being naughty but nice.

Yankees: The Gerit Cole signing to a record nine-year $324 million contract is the missing piece, so says the Yankees hierarchy. Though, as mentioned on  these pages,a pitcher with that long term deal is expected to deliver.

 The Yankees, as that holiday gift for their fans, got them Cole. It means the supposed best pitcher in baseball is expected to deliver, and at a risk in this long range plan to end their decade drought without a World Series championship.

Though, the appropriate gift of cheer for the Yankees is to get the timely hits in the postseason, which was more of the contributing factor of their failures to go deep in another postseason series loss to the Astros.

METS: The gift has been Michael Wacha and Rick Procello, two pitchers at low cost that add to their depth. If anything, rookie manager Carlos Beltran has been granted some flexibility. 

Seth Lugo, the Mets most reliable reliever, can stay in the bullpen as does Robert Gsellman. The need was to revamp a bullpen that was second worst in baseball to the Red Sox in 2019.

The gift this holiday season for the Mets, another bat in the lineup before Opening Day and possibly a healthy Yoenis Cespedes in his final year of a revamped contract.

Most of all, the best gift here? A turn-around 2020 out of the pen for Jeurys Familia and Edwin Diaz. Late inning outs and saves cost the Mets in 2019. Familia and Diaz could be a difference maker, along with Justin Wilson in the mix.

Giants: Yours truly will be the first to admit this is not an area of expertise. However, it is easy to comprehend that stability on the coaching end is important, why it is important to give another year to Pat Shurmur.

There are signs of progress. No more Eli Manning. Daniel Jones is improving, five touchdown passes Sunday against the Redskins.  The gift is acquiring a top draft choice, improve the defense. We haven’t seen Saquon Barkley at his best and healthy. 

Jets: Same situation with the Giants and that’s coaching stability.  Adam Gase? He needs another year. Disagree, of course Jets fans would. You see the continued development of a quarterback, Sam Darnold, and how he can control the ball out of the pocket. 

Again, a gift here for the Jets is patience. They are close. And the draft picks will be significant as the long and championship reign of the Patriots is on a decline, which makes the Jets a team to be enthused about in the AFC East.

Knicks: Sell the team. This is not a coaching situation. The answer is get rid of Dolan. A gift of joy for every Knicks’ fan is becoming that franchise champion again that takes the court in the “Mecca” of Madison Square Garden, and having the appropriate basketball personnel to run the show. 

NETS:  Did you say, can’t wait for Kevin Durant?  That 26.0 points per game is a void and a difference maker.

Rangers:   Sunday, Henrik Lundqvist made his first start in a week and stopped 19 of 20 shots that prevented the Rangers from losing their fourth straight. And that is the difference, because the veteran in goal can lead this team in his final years. 

You want to see a good old NY rivalry on ice with the Rangers and Islanders. It can get there again, of course it begins with the consistent play in goal from the veteran.

Islanders: All good in Nassau County and Brooklyn. The Islanders are leaving a gift this season and striving to become another dynasty before moving to their new digs in a few years over at Belmont Park.

NYRA:  Can we get another Triple Crown winner at Belmont Park?

NYCFC: Two years of semifinal and final conference elimination for an MLS CUP. The gift is go another step. The added gift is securing a stadium they can call home as the Yankees kick them out of the ballpark to avoid disrupting their sacred field during playoff time. 

Boxing: The sports deserves more championship fights in New York. Barclays Center in Brooklyn is in survival mode as a host for major fights and Madison Square Garden, well the “Mecca” always finds a place for the big fight.  Then again, the sport is healthy but no longer in that category of mainstream.and deserves a gift of returning to the heyday of Ali, Frazier, Holmes, Hagler, Hearns, and Leonard.

There you have it. Just some thoughts. From all of us at TheNYExtra.com a healthy and happy holiday season with the gift of joy and a championship. 

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

Betances Would Be Risk For Mets and Here Is Why by Rich Mancuso/The New York Extra

File photo Neil Miller ?The New Yrok Extra

Dellin Betances is the subject of rumors and the Mets are still in the game to acquire the former Yankees reliever. Betances, coming off a 2019 season that included a partial tear of his left Achilles Tendon is one of those prime names that remains on the market.

This has been an active free agent off-season which throws away the debate about collusion and the owners.  At this juncture last year, baseball free agency was all about collusion and big names remained on the market.

 Manny Machado signed a multi-year contract with the San Diego Padres and Bruce Harper the same with the Phillies as the two top targets in free agency. 

The contracts came late in the game and a few weeks before the start of the season.

Not this time around. That debate about collusion from the owners was short lived. More so, the hefty contracts of half a billion dollars granted to pitchers, Gerit Cole (Yankees) and Stephen Strasburg (Nationals) signed the past few weeks. 

Much earlier  than last year, and at a feverish pace, again throw away a debate that owners were holding back on mega contracts for players. 

The game is healthy, though Mets fans,  accustomed to being bypassed, await the billion dollar check book of Steve Cohen.

The Mets could use Betances, and there is that need for GM Brodie Van Wagenen to make the improvements in the pen, of course with hopes that Jeurys Familia and Edwin Diaz will have that turnaround.

And yes, a bullpen with reliable Familia, Diaz, and Justin Wilson could make a difference for the Mets to play baseball in October. It was that pen that blew 21 saves and was next to worse in baseball.

Only the Boston Red Sox bullpen was worse in 2019.

So, adding Dellin Betances to the Mets bullpen mix, a one-year deal at a low cost, does seems viable.  The Phillies and Twins have also been reported to be looking at signing Betances.

In 2018, the Betances numbers with the Yankees,  2.70 ERA and over a 40 percent strikeout rate, that went a long way. And as a late innings reliever, Betances is that threat coming out of the pen, again a perfect for the need of this Mets bullpen,

But consider what one NL insider said to yours truly. “A risk  signing coming off an injury and the last thing the Mets need is another bust coming out of the bullpen.”

Yes, Mets fans saw too much of that in 2019 with the failure of Edwin Diaz and his 7 blown saves. And that goes with the failure of infielder Robinson Cano, who came to Citi Field with Diaz in the first splash made by Van Wegenen.

Let’s be the GM here. Assuming, Jed Lowrie and $10 million could be free, assuming Van  Wagenen can work a deal with another team, though Lowrie brings that injury plagued season of 2019 to the table, it is possible that a low cost and one-year deal can be had for Betances.

Creative, we know about the Mets’ GM.  He has shown that ability to make moves, though awkward to say the least. 

Gio Gonzalez is another name off the table. Mets fans know him well, a 11-1 record when pitching on the other side at Citi Field, bypassed as a free agent last offseason who could have filled a starting or bullpen role.

But the Mets bypassed him last offseason, and Gonzalez signed a one-year $5 million deal with the White Sox that also has club options.

Dellin Betances is in line for a similar deal. But, coming off an injury and with limited innings pitched in 2019, the right-hander could be a risk for the Mets. 

Their offseason needs have included the signing of pitchers Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello, one-year deals that added more depth to the rotation and either could be used out of the pen. 

Outfielder Jake Marisnick? Not the big splash. The 28-year old, with good defensive skills, comes to Citi Field after six years with the Astros.

There is flexibility here for the Mets. They can take a low budget risk and sign Dellin Betances.

But the last thing the Mets’ GM needs, is another bust. There are other options and Dellin Betances is not the answer for a bullpen that needs to perform for the Mets to play baseball in October that has not happened since 2016. 

Comment: Ring7686@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Millrose Games Of Tradition And Record Holders Continues Next Month

For years the Millrose Games has featured more than one record holder at Madison Square Garden. The historic NYRR Millrose games have moved from the Garden and moved to the The Armory’s New Balance Track & Field Center and next month  will feature dozens of Olympians and world championship contenders as they look toward the Olympic Games this Summer In Tokyo.

An anticipated race will take place Saturday February 8th at the 113th edition of the Games. The men’s 800-meter run will feature world champion and American record holder Donavan Brazier and defending Millrose champion and NCAA record holder Michael Saruni.

 “The rematch of Donavan Brazier and Michael Saruni may be one of the highlights of the indoor season,” Armory Foundation Co-President Jonathan Schindel said.

 “But anything can happen with so many of the world’s best 800-meter runners back at the NYRR Millrose Games.”

Brazier is considered the outstanding 800m runner in the world. At the games last year, Brazier, ran an indoor American record of 1:44.41. In a subsequent race he set an indoor world best over 600m at the USATF Championships.   Outdoors, Brazier collected another U.S. championship before claiming the Diamond League trophy in Zurich with a historic come-from-behind victory over Nigel Amos.

 Brazier then capped his season in style, destroying the field at the World Championships in Doha to win the gold medal, running 1:43:34 to break Johny Gray’s 34-year-old American record. 

 “After a successful 2019 season, I’m looking forward to running at the Millrose Games for the fifth year in a row,” Brazier said.

Brazier’s primary competition will come from Saruni, the man who bested him at Millrose in 2019. Saruni blasted a 1:43.98 in that race, making him the second-fastest indoor performer at all times. Despite being hampered by an injury outdoors, Saruni still managed a season best of 1:43.70 in Monaco. 

His personal best of 1:43.25 still stands as the NCAA record, and the 24-year-old Kenyan will surely be a threat.

Joining the field is 2019 breakout star Bryce Hoppel.

 The former University of Kansas standout won both the indoor and outdoor NCAA 800m titles during a 21-race winning streak. Hoppel went on to place third at USAs to punch his ticket to Doha, where he exceeded all expectations by finishing fourth in a personal best of 1:44.25. 

Entering 2020, Hoppel will look to establish himself as a medal contender in Tokyo with a strong performance at Millrose.

The race is more enticing with Isaiah Harris. The former NCAA champion, a star at Penn State, competed  at the 2017 World Championships, and he will attempt to reclaim that form heading into the Olympic year.

 Rounding out the field is the reliable veteran and Millrose stalwart Erik Sowinski, a former  world indoor bronze medalist, and one of the most consistent middle-distance runners in the world, especially indoors.

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The NYRR Millrose Games is the most storied event in indoor track and field. The tradition will continue in New York City and more athletes and fields will be announced for the NYRR Millrose Games in the coming weeks.

 Already announced is a thrilling shot put duel between Ryan Crouser and Joe Kovacs, along with world record holder Keni Harrison opening her season in the 60m hurdles and newly-crowned NCAA Cross Country champions Edwin Kurgat, Iowa State University. 

The Millrose Games moved to The Armory’s New Balance Track & Field Center in Washington Heights in 2012 after having called Madison Square Garden home from 1914 to 2011.  More than 200 athletes share the distinction of being both Millrose and Olympic champions.  

 Visit www.nyrrmillrosegames.org or call 212-923-1803 x7200 to purchase tickets.

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

Crawford Needs The Fights For Those To Be convinced He Is The Top Fighter At 147

credit Top Rank

Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas was the latest victim of Terence “Bud” Crawford in the ring at Madison Square Garden Saturday night. He gave the defending WBO welterweight champion a fight.

But the pound-for-pound king Terence Crawford was too much. Crawford (36-0, 27 KOs) defended his WBO welterweight world title, knocking down Kavaliauskas three times en route to a ninth-round TKO in front of 10,101 fans at Madison Square Garden.

So after five rounds, Crawford, went into transition from southpaw to the orthodox stance. It was a better transition than what  has been seen from the Knicks on the Garden floor.

“I thought I had to entertain ya’ll for a little bit. He’s a strong fighter, durable, and I thought I’d give the crowd something to cheer for,” Crawford said. “I wasn’t hurt at all. I got up and went straight to him. I wasn’t hurt by no means. I walked through everything he threw all night.”

Exactly, This is what makes Terence Crawford, who should be rightfully proclaimed as the top fighter at 147. Perhaps, as many would say, Terence Crawford is the pound-for-pound king of boxing.

But that debate, pound-for-pound, has never been a priority on the list for Terence Crawford. He wants to fight the best and further cement his legacy in the sport.

The issue for Crawford, promoted by Top Rank and ESPN, of course is boxing politics. Top Rank and ESPN will need to further their efforts to enhance that opportunity for their champion, unify the titles, and the obstacle is working with the PBC.

The PBC has that lucrative financial deal with FOX and Showtime. The managerial company this past week also signed a five- year deal with On  Demand the Pay-Per-View distributor.

And the PBC also has control with the elite fighters who hold titles at 147, Shawn Porter, Panny Pacquiao, to name a few. Crawford was aiming for Errol Spence Jr. 

The WBC and IBF champion, was severely injured when he was ejected from his car in the Dallas area a few months ago.

Updates are not clear about the health of Spence. He  sustained a significant injury and possibly broke a hip which could keep him inactive for a year or jeopardize his career.

Regardless, Terence Crawford will move on. The champion is seeking that major opportunity as most in the boxing world look at him as the top fighter or second best when discussing pound-for-pound.

“I’m not ducking anyone on the PBC side or Top Rank platform. I want to fight all the top guys,” Crawford said in the ring.

Again, this is by no means the fault of Terence Crawford. When the big fights at 147 are discussed, the WBO champion seems to get bypassed, His promoter Bob Arum and Al Heyman (PBC) need to get it done.

That being said, getting it done is not easy. There have been discussions about a Crawford fight with Porter, the former champion who lost his WBC and IBF titles to Spence in September. 

 Crawford is a huge fan favorite in Nebraska and comfortable fighting at the Garden. 

Top Rank has a limited deal promoting fights at the Garden, “The Mecca.” The  PBC has a financial deal with boxing at the Barclays Center that is on thin ice as shows have not been a draw.

Then there are the networks, ESPN with Top Rank and the PBC with Fox and Showtime.  You get the idea as boxing politics could continue and stall the best fights for fans.

Terence Crawford will not get the deserved and proper recognition, that is of course if he fights Porter, technically a free agent, or any of the other top fighters at 147 that are under the control of the PBC.

The fight has to be done and there is a commitment to get it finalized. 

Kavaliauskas (21-1-1, 17 KOs) had some success early, even buzzing Crawford in the third round with a near-knockdown. Crawford rebounded, reloaded and dominated per usual, cementing his status at the top of the welterweight and pound-for-pound heap.

Terence Crawford had some difficulty getting it done Saturday night. He prevailed, now he has to prevail by getting the fights at 147 to make his claim as best pound-for-pound and king at 147.

credit Top Rank

Co-main event and another superstar: Teofimo Lopez has quickly become a rising star in boxing and Saturday evening at Madison Square Garden the Honduran native who resides in Brooklyn won the IBF lightweight title.

 Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) blitzed Richard Commey (29-3, 26 KOs) in two rounds.  Lopez knocked Commey down with a right hand in the second round and followed up with a savage combination that forced referee David Fields to stop the fight. 

Lopez made history in becoming the first boxer of Honduran descent to win a world title. He is now on track to challenge unified champion Vasiliy Lomachenko in a fight that would crown an undisputed champion in 2020.

“I’m at a loss for words right now. This is a dream come true,” Lopez said. “{Commey} is a bad man. His shot could’ve done the same to me if he hit me with that shot.

“You all know who I want to fight next. 2020 is going to be a big year. ‘The Takeover’ has arrived, and you haven’t seen anything yet.”

Said Lomachenko: “We want to ‘unificate’ all four titles. Now he’s a world champion and now he’s in position to fight me.”

Details for an eventual fight with Lomachenko will come in the months ahead. Madison Square Garden could be the venue or Las Vegas with a possible date in April.

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

Danny Aiello Always Did The Right Thing; My Tribute To A Friend

When Danny Aiello crossed paths with yours truly in 1974, there was no conception who was on the microphone up in a small press box calling plays as the public address announcer at a DeWitt Clinton High School football game.

That voice was clear and distinguished and could be heard all over Paul Avenue and a block away on Mosholu Parkway.. He was very professional and at the time not the well known actor that he would become.

His two sons played football for the school, Danny and Rick ,who yours truly also got to know. Danny Aiello III died of pancreatic cancer in 2010 at the age of 53.

That loss for Aiello was difficult as was the early struggle and stumbling on a career that led to over 100 roles on the screen and the stage.

And today we sadly mourn his passing, 86-years of age after an illness. His big break, “Do The Right Thing” the Spike Lee film that earned him an Academy Award nomination in 1989. He was Sal the owner of a Brooklyn pizza shop and tried to keep peace in the community.

Thing is, Danny Aiello always did the right thing. From those days in the press box, a man who asked for a penny or a nickel, to his success, Danny Aiello was always there for the community, He was there for friends and a loyal role model to his wife of 64 years, sons, and grandchildren.

He never changed. He was my role model up in that press box. He guided me to do the same PA announcing as his acting schedule called on him. Directors and producers called on him and often.

He said then, in 1975, “You have a future as an announcer.” He started to follow me as a cub sports reporter in the Bronx and appreciated the devotion and covering high school athletes for the Bronx weekly newspapers.

They know, as yours truly did as a 17-year old in the Bronx, that Danny Aiello was going to be a hit. He wasn’t shy to ask for a nickle or a cigarette. He always said there would be a day he would not forget and return the favor.

He never forgot. And, Danny Aiello always remembered the community. His late mother was admitted to Providence Rest Nursing Home. He felt there was need to do better there and later became a Board of Director member at Providence Rest over in Throgs Neck.

Sports was his passion when not on the set.

“My Yankees, what’s wrong,” he said a few years ago as we met at Yankee Stadium. His nephew, Bronx native Michael Kay, is the voice of the Yankees on the YES Network and hosts a successful afternoon sports program on ESPN Radio.

Kay was in tears as he paid tribute to “Uncle Danny” Friday afternoon. It was Danny Aiello who pitched and believed in his nephew. Must run in the family because Danny Aiello was an avid sports fan and was also seen many times at ringside watching a fight at Madison Square Garden and the Barlcays Center in Brooklyn.

He always did the right thing, so appropriate and many years before the movie hit the big screen.

That was Danny Aiello, born in Manhattan but the Bronx and the people he met were always in his heart.

In many ways, this career was fit for me. You never know what will transpire as time goes on. But that day up in a small high school press box was one that gave me the opportunity to speak out loud.

Danny Aiello, as he did for many and yours truly was an inspiration. God Bless and Rest In peace. The The New York Extra offers prayers and condolences to the Aiello family, friends, and those who knew him over the years in the entertainment industry.

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

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The DeWitt Clinton HIgh School graduate, a school at the end of the Grand Concourse also known as “The Castle” because of distinguished alumni in all walks of life, was a proud alumnus who was instrumental in  staging more than 30 plays and musicals on Broadway in four decades.

“I see the potential in so many here in the Bronx,” Simon said when he was awarded by the DeWitt Clinton Alumni Association. He was one of the many at the time that graduated at the age of 16. And from Clinton it was either NYU or City College of New York. He chose NYU  and from there the rest is history.

Simon in 1983  was the only living playwright who had a theater named after him on Broadway, “The Neil Simon Theater.”

But his “Odd Couple” play, later an Emmy award winning television series, was Neil Simon and the creativity that consumed the entertainment world for years and still seen in syndication.

He was 91 years of age and passed away Monday morning in New York City with complications from pneumonia.

Cole Contract Could Be A Risk But Yankees Gladly Did It

Go back to October and the Yankees failures with their at bats were the major and contributing factors coming up short again to the Houston Astros. It was not Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, James Paxton, J.A Happ.

And it wasn’t the open bullpen and Chad Green that failed. The culprit this time, and failure to reach a World Series for the first time in a decade was their inability to have that dominant pitcher.

They got  Gerrit Cole, their target. 

 But, Cole does not hit the ball. He throws strikes and a majority of his outs come with the strikeout. That could get the Yankees their first World Series championship since 2009.

And of course, the Yankees had the resources to pay Cole, nine-years, $324 million, a record contract. The Yankees always seem to get what they want but this was different in many respects.

They upped their offer to obtain the prize free agent on the market. Could have been the Dodgers or the supposed front running Angels, but the Yankees had the resources to do this.

And  the magnitude of this contract is not what the Yankees have been accustomed for via free agency and acquiring a pitcher they feel will get them to the top.  They haven’t been in this market since Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia. and it shows their desperation to win it all and for a long time.

A long time with Cole, before his opt of five years, but it does come with a risk.

You see, long term contracts of this magnitude can backfire for a position player, and more so with a quality and durable arm that is Gerrit Cole.

So if this fails, then we are talking about another bust of a contract, The Yankees now have two of the $300 million and record contracts, the other Giancarlo Stanton and that has proved to be a failure.  

There are no expectations that the 2019 season of Cole, with a Major League leading 326 strikeouts, league leading 2.50 ERA in 33 starts, 20-5, and runner up for AL Cy Young Award will duplicate that in 2020. 

He could still be that dominating pitcher, 35-10 and that 2.68 ERA in 65 starts for the Astros that was seen the past two seasons.Cole can still be the ace of a Yankees pitching staff that will deliver their long awaited World Series title and first of the new decade.

But, the 29-year old  Cole needs to stay healthy as that innings eater. It is a risk the Yankees took. However, Cole has mastered his curveball and his four-seamer over the two-seam fastball made him that dominant ace.

Said a longtime AL scout, who has seen Cole often, “That change brought him to this level. Keeps it low in zone and that’s what gives him so many ground balls.”

Ground balls from Cole will be important at his new ballpark in the Bronx.

And the Yankees now have flexibility to do more. GM Brian Cashman will look into the contracts of Tanaka, Paxton, and Haap, all up for free agency after the 2020 season.

All of those interesting elements come into play for the Yankees. But in the end, as much as pitching and defense win ball games, as the Yankees have, that potent lineup needs to hit in timley situations.

Their 2019 postseason was a failure at the plate and that was the difference.

So throw away the theories of collusion from the owners. Zack Wheeler, in the $100 million plus range, Stephen Strasburg (Nationals $245 million) and now Gerrit Cole.

The big three on the pitching market are off the table. But the Yankees got what they wanted. They have changed direction and salary thresholds to them, and staying away from the long term and lucrative contract are no longer a part of their policy.

Cole, as manager Aaron Boone said, “is a lot of ways, that’s a game-changing type of talent.”

The Yankees got their game changer, but at what risk? If Gerrit Cole helps to deliver one or more World Series titles then this will not be a risk.

The Yankees got their investment with Sabathia and a World Series championship and years before his knees got worse. Though this could always be that enormous risk of a contract.


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

Charlo Defends Title in Brooklyn And More To Come

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

credit,,PBC

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

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

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

Jacobs, of Brooklyn could also be on the agenda. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credit PBC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holiday Cheer At Citi Field As Mets Have Busy Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Neil Miller/The New York Extra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Neil Miller/The New York Extra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#0 Mustafa Heron Neil Miller/The New York Extra

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

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

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

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

Mike Anderson Neil miller/The New York Extra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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