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Mets And Yankees Preparing For Winter Meetings and Their Needs

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

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

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

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

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

file photo Neil Miller/The New York Extra

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

Again, all speculation as to where this goes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NYCFC Signs Academy Player From The Bronx To Roster

credit nycfc

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

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

credit nycfc

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deontay Wilder And His Legacy Of Knockouts Continues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Punch Stats

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










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

Boxing Notebook: The Sport Is Strong

credit pbc

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

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

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

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

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

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

credit pbc

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

 The fight was in consideration for fight of the year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ellsbury And Bird Never Showed Their Potential With Yankees

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

file photo /Neil Miller /The New York Extra

This is all about business and baseball.

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

file photo Neil Miller /Te New York Extra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HomeComing Day Split At Rose Hill

credit Robert Cole/The New York Extra /2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yankees Will Be in Mix For Cole or Strasburg

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

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

File photo Aaron Boone Neil Miller /The New York Extra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

File Photo Zach Wheeler Neil Miller/The New York Extra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They hardly fail to get what they want. They are the Yankees and they do have the means to do it.  Stay tuned!
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Historic Ivy League Win For Dartmouth In The Bronx

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

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

credit Robert Cole /The New York Extra 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#4 Ereten Gazi Neil Miller /The New York Extra

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

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

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

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