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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

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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.”


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

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

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.”

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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%










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