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USA Gymnastics Falters With Its Bogus Settlement Offer

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

  In my first job at Greenwich Time, I had the bright idea of climbing up on a balance beam after a meet featuring the Greenwich High girls’ gymnastics team, a state power at the time.

 Upon getting to my feet I looked down and froze.

“How the hell does one get down, no less attempt to walk?”

That was the day I gained a full appreciation for the courage of gymnasts. And last Friday was the day I grew to fully despise the organization known as USA Gymnastics.

The organization released its proposed settlement in one of the most despicable sexual predator cases of all time.

Former Michigan State and national team doctor Larry Nassar, who is accused of having molested at least 250 young women, girls and one young man, pled guilty to seven counts of sexual assault of minors, three counts of sexual assault and possession of child pornography.

Nassar is now locked away for the rest of his life, which is not nearly a harsh enough punishment. He should be subjected to the Ludovic technique on a weekly basis for the remainder of his days.

One would think that the governing body of USA Gymnastics, which allegedly knew about the monster in its midst but dragged its elephant feet for years in a heinous attempt to protect its now sullied name, would realize upon being outed that there was only one course of action to take: Do everything (everything!), to help every athlete whose body and soul was desecrated by Nassar.

Instead USA Gymnastics offered the following proposal:

Women who were assaulted at the Olympics, world championships, national team training camps and national team events would receive over $1.25 million in compensation.

But for those women who were considered “non-elite” athletes, yet were still sexually abused at USA Gymnastics-sanctioned events, they would receive $508,670, less than half the “elite” athletes.

But wait, it gets worse, much worse. Athletes abused at non-USA gymnastics locations would get less than $175,000, while victims’ whose claims were brought by a shareholder, often on behalf of a corporation, would receive only $82,550.

Of course the proposal would also release the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committees, former USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny, and former national team directors Bela and Martha Karolyi from all claims, according to ESPN. Penny was arrested on a separate charge for tampering with evidence.

Let us boil this settlement down to its most pathetic base.

A non-elite athlete is valued as a human being far less, and therefore could not have been as horrifically violated, as an elite athlete. Thus, they should receive less compensation. If your daughter happens to be one of the millions of gymnasts participating in the sport at non-USA Gymnastics locations, the governing body of the sport is telling her she holds some tertiary rank as a human being.

There is a lot of legal wrangling and financial shenanigans that go on in these types of mass tort cases. For example, when USA Gymnastics filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December of 2018, one of its explanations for doing so was that the action would, “expedite resolution of claims,” according to a statement from the organization.

Here we are, a year and one-half later, and there is no resolution. The proposed settlement is lacking in empathy, decency and remorse. It’s as if USA Gymnastics refuses to accept the enormity of this nightmare and its failure to protect its athletes.

Truth be told, the filing was a defense against the U.S. Olympic Committee, which is seeking to decertify USA Gymnastics, which has taken “Public Relations 101” steps such as seating a new board.

As for the victims, here’s their choice: accept the reprehensible offer and try as best as possible to move forward and heal. Or, reject the offer and sue, which could take years to work its way through the legal system.

Maybe we need to consider tiers for those in charge of USA Gymnastics:  Those at the top are Tier 1 lowlifes. Those in middle management are Tier 2 creeps.

Of course, USA Gymnastics can change all that by having the courage and concentration it takes to do a backflip on a balance beam by coming up with a sincere and empathic settlement. Something tells me they won’t.

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Inside The Business: Warriors Of Wrestling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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These Will Be The Wilpon Mets And For a Long Time More

So what was going to happen was not with the Mets. The Wilpons sale to Steve Cohen is no more and the questions will continue as to why this deal went the other way.

Neil Miller/The New York Extra

You see, deals like this are difficult to understand. You put a billionaire hedge funder, Cohen, to the front.  And then there are Fred and Jeff Wilpon, who would be in the outfield and looking in within five years.

Of course as of now,  a sale of the Mets is a dead issue. The Wilpons will be at Citi Field Opening Day, March 26th. Steve Cohen, with his money,  a long time Mets fan, will be among the fans in the seats.

So, Cohen, took off on his yacht and left from Flushing Bay. The Wilpons, they will remain in control and seek another way to sell their interest with the Mets. 

But, as one insider said Thursday, “Take away the Mets from Jeff Wilpon and he will be a lost puppy.”

According to that  insider, Fred, the elder statesman, could go either way with this. Jeff, with his proficiency to be hated by Mets fans, well he is their biggest fan, He has a difficult time with that inevitable point of no longer having control.

And my friends this is about control. Take away the Mets from Jeff Wilpon, he is that lost puppy.

Have we not seen this mess more than once with the Wilpons ? It’s becoming old news in their so-called quest  to sell shares or a majority of them to an outsider.

File photo Neil Miller/The New York Extra

So, Fred and Jeff Wilpon, Saul Katz, and those in the hierarchy are making the Democrats in Iowa look like wizards.  The Mets move on and prepare for the start of the season in 49 days.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, would not fault the Wilpons. And, despite reports, Steve Cohen had minimal influence in day-to-day operations with the Mets.

Could have been another few years before Cohen’s 80 percent and $2.6 billion had any influence on spending.  But now it’s back to square one for the Wilpons.

And the prevailing questions, if you can get the answers, do the Wilpons want to sell as part of their Sterling corporation?

“Sterling intends now to pursue a new transaction and has engaged & Company to manage that process.” a statement released by the Mets Thursday afternoon.

Believe the statement if you desire. And any impending sale is not happening anytime soon. This is a process and Major League Baseball is very involved and the proper foundation must be in place.

Steve Cohen, unless a deal can be restructured, he is on the sidelines. “I gave it a shot,” he said.  

Not what Mets fans wanted to hear Thursday when this all came down. Social media was buzzing and fans wanted the Wilpons to go. They want an owner who will spend.  They want to see that balance go their way when competing with the cross-town Yankees for the big time player.

 But, they have to wait. And this time the wait for their dream to rid the Wilpons of control could continue for another five years, because this is how long it takes to assume control of a Major League Baseball franchise.

This is not like purchasing real estate, a new car, or winning the lottery.

Then again, these are the New York Mets and a team with two new managers in a span of three months. Mets fans will say their team never gets anything right and all they want is a winning team.

Enough to digest the past few months with Carlos Beltran here and gone, and Luis Rojas an immediate replacement as the manager. Time to move on and get ready for pitchers and catchers in a few days down in Port St. Lucie. 

Neil Miller/The New York Extra

That is the emphasis for GM Brodie Van Wegenen, manager Luis Rojas and his coaching staff. 

Nothing has changed at Citi Field. Front office and Citi Field personnel are going about their business and preparing for Opening Day.

But one thing is certain, the Wilpons are still in control of the Mets. And they are not going on that yacht out of Flushing Bay anytime soon.

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

A Good Day For the Knicks? Yes!

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

It comes with an understandably fair bit of trepidation for any Knicks fan embrace what just occurred on February 6, 2020. There have been so many horrific trades and free agents busts that just the thought of the Knicks making a deal is enough to trigger deep breathing exercises.

But this time the president-less Knicks made what seems to be a slam dunk transaction, sending veteran forward Marcus Morris to the Clippers in exchange for former St. John’s star and Queens native Moe Harkless, a 2020 first round pick and a 2nd-round pick.

The happiest man might be Leon Rose who reportedly will be hired as franchise’s next prez. He gets another first-round and second-round pick and a talented 26-year-old forward with upside.

The Knicks traded away a very solid player and person in Morris, who is 30 and a free agent after the season. But a first round pick and a younger forward that could start immediately at the 3 is a win-win. Morris goes to a playoff-bound team.

Good for him. Good for New York.

The Knicks now have two 1st-round picks in 2020 and two second-round picks, courtesy of the Willie Hernangomez trade. The Knicks have two first round picks in 2021, courtesy of the Kristaps Porzingis trade.

After his rookie season, we railed that The Unicorn was not a foundation player to build a champion around. Every month that belief gets reinforced. He continues to be physically fragile, not necessarily his fault, and is one of the most narcissistic players to come out of Europe, which is his fault.

The Knicks also have another 2nd-round pick in 2021 as part of Hernangomez deal. They’ll have two first-rounds picks in 2023, when the second pick from Dallas for KP arrives.

One of the only smart, no less sane thoughts to come out of The Garden of late regarding the Knicks is a commitment to hoard No.1 picks. This becomes even more prescient with the expected decreases in the salary cap and luxury-tax threshold.

Add in these assets with Rose and here’s where it gets a little scary: A hoard of draft picks combined with an elite agent. Do we dare get excited? Yes!

Look at what former agents turned executives Bob Myers did in Golden State and Rob Pelinka has done with the Lakers. This doesn’t mean Rose is a slam dunk. Myers learned the ropes from Larry Riley and Pelinka sat at the knee of Magic Johnson. That’s like getting tutored by Newton in physics.

Rose, however, will have GM Steve Perry to bounce ideas. Since Rose has yet to be officially hired and Steve Mills thankfully is no longer at the controls, we can credit today’s trade to Perry.

There’s another reason to feel good about this day and that is Rose. He might be able to get a table at Rao’s these days but not because his father handed him a fortune and said, ‘Go Forth and Double the Family Fortune.’

He’s a South Jersey guy who got degrees at Dickinson College, a cool liberal arts school, and at Temple law, in the heart of blue collar Philly. His first job was as an assistant prosecutor in Camden County, which has never been dubbed the vacation capital of the New Jersey. His first clients were Philly guys such as Lionel Simmons and Rick Brunson.

The only damper on the day was owner James Dolan’s decision to issue the following statement:

“We are actively looking for a new President of the New York Knicks and hope to conclude the search as quickly as possible,” he said. “I am not selling, but I am determined to find the right leader for the Knicks who will ensure the long-term success of the team, just as we did with the hiring of Rangers President John Davidson.”

If Dolan won’t sell, maybe he won’t meddle. In that case, maybe the record will show that February 6, 2020 was the best day Knicks fans had in a long time.

How Knicks Fans Can Get Dolan to Sell: Volume II

Welcome to The World’s Most Infamous Arena.

A perfect storm hit Madison Square Garden Wednesday night.

The Knicks got decked 127-106 by a mediocre Memphis Grizzlies team. The Knicks showed their only fight of the night with 47 seconds left when Elfrid Payton took exception to a Jae Crowder punk 3-point attempt and shoved the Memphis forward out of bounds. What followed wasn’t Malice in the Palace as much as Misery in Madison.

Crowder, Payton, Julius Randle, Marcus Morris and Damyean Dotson showed more hostility than Cowboy Cerrone. Payton, Morris and Randle were tossed. Payton likely will be suspended.

Knicks fans, who seem to be numb to dysfunction, crossed over to simmering outrage. Maybe Crowder’s utter disrespect for the Knicks was the tipping point. Would he have done this against the Lakers in Staples Center or the Celtics in TD Garden or the Sixers, Bucks, Nuggets, Rockets, etc.? No.

The fans began chanting, ‘Sell the Team.’ Since James Dolan was the only Knicks owner at the game, we’ll assume it was directed at him.

After 20 seconds of being serenaded, Dolan left his seat, but not before screaming at security personnel, who do a great job night in and night out, but can’t secure their boss from the anguish of 18,000 long-suffering fans.

After the on-the-court nonsense came the postgame show, kind of like fireworks after a Mets game. Morris, a veteran who would be a welcome addition in any NBA lock room, something the Knicks should consider as the trade deadline approach, went Neanderthal on Crowder.

“He’s got a lot of female tendencies on the court, flopping and throwing his head back,’’ Morris said of the player he’s had a history of disdain for. “He’s soft, very woman-like.”

Morris later apologized on Twitter, hopefully before Rhonda Rousey boarded a flight to New York.

Then came Ja Morant’s claim that The Garden is in a need of a plumber.

“This is beyond me,” Morant told reporters after the game. “I’ve taken cold showers before, but at least I had water pressure.”

Who knows how many Knicks fans return home from The Garden needing a cold shower. Dolan should have one in his office, one with a noise cancelling feature so he can tune out the ‘Sell the Team’ jeers.

Yes, it would be great if Dolan sold. But with the Knicks valued as the 5th most valuable franchise in the world and the most valuable in the NBA at $4 billion, per Forbes, what would motivate him to sell?

After all, he’s a filthy rich egomaniac. Every time he hears those jeers, he digs in. Every time he gets spurned in free agency, he digs in.

How do we get such a man to do what we want? Here’s a plan:

Many who know Dolan say he’s truly a Knicks fan. He desperately wants them to succeed.

That’s where Knicks fans need to focus their strategy. They need to appeal to Dolan’s love of the Knicks and the shared misery between the fans and the owner.

The fans should take out an ad in The New York Times and TheNYExtra.com. Buy an ad on MSG Networks (O.K., not likely) – and ESPN.

Dear Mr. Dolan, we the fans thank you for years of doing your best to restore this franchise to greatness. We know this because you gave Jackson $50 million. It’s not your fault Jackson thought this was for meditation classes. We know you are as disheartened as we are by the team’s struggles. (O.K. that’s a hard line to swallow, but we have an ulterior motive). For the sake of the franchise we love, we ask that you sell the team and let another owner try his luck. Of course, you can keep your courtside seat (we’ll have a word with security) and we will hold a parade in your honor in the Canyon of Heroes. From one disheartened Knicks fan to another, thank you for being big enough to do what’s in everyone’s best interest. Sincerely, Suffering Season Ticket Holder Since 1973.

Until then, remember, the 10 worst seconds are the first ones upon stepping into that icy, cold shower.

Beltran Gone as Suspicion Has a Seat in Every Dugout

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

JOB OPENING: Looking for a man or woman with integrity who is willing to sit in an MLB dugout and monitor all actions of the manager, coaches, players and equipment personnel. Candidates should have a working knowledge of baseball signs. Candidates must be willing to contact MLB at the first sign of any abnormality. What constitutes an abnormality? Therein lies the problem with this job. 

From now on, the 2017 Houston Astros and the 2018 Boston Red Sox slink with the 1919 Chicago White Sox. They are the cheaters, the scum of sports, the cruchers of dreams, the destroyer of heroes.

As bad as their behavior is, it is the filthy lens through which every at-bat, every game, every season, every team will be viewed that is worse. Suspicion now has a seat in every dugout.

Any player that starts drawing walks at an unusually higher rate than his norm will be scrutinized. Any player that suddenly goes on a home run tear, any player that gets sizzling hot, any baserunner that suddenly starts racking up steals, will be looked at with a hairy eyeball.

That will be the horrific fallout of the sign-stealing scandal that has placed a scarlet letter next to the letters of every major league team’s logo. is he a cheater? Are they cheaters? 

Unfair, you decry?

Consider this harrowing reporting from Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic. They quote an MLB manager that says:

“It’s an issue that permeates through the whole league. The league has done a very poor job of policing or discouraging it.”

Even the league office, which sought to stake claim to the high ground by penalizing and fining the Astros and Red Sox can’t be trusted. Unless you’re an owner of course. 

We’re supposed to believe that Houston owner Jim Crane knew nothing about what his employees were doing every day for the better part of seven months. No wonder why there has never been an Undercover Owner of an MLB team.

They are all in on it. Apparently every GM, manager and coach is in on it. Every player is in on it. Every equipment manager? Every scout? Every ballboy?

Good Lord, not the ball boys?!

Are we supposed to believe now that Rob Manfred has disingenuously shed a spotlight on a contamination he only needed a penlight to spot that baseball has been baptized into cleanliness?

 What did that manager say? Permeates through the whole league.

Carlos Beltran became the first player to have the next step in his career halted by this toxic scandal. Before he got to manager one spring game for the Mets, the organization announced the parties had a agreed to part weeds.

When Manfred handed down the penalties to the Astros and Red Sox he said players had not been disciplined because it would be “difficult and impractical” to weed out who did what. Of course, Manfred’s fear is that if the league begins looking at players, there might not be an MLB when he’s done.

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil is the better of bad options for baseball but it only enhances the suspicion mindset. If Beltran, who was a true professional throughout his time as a player, was a sign-stealing master, who else should we suspect? Everyone?

Those of us old enough to have lived through the Mark McGuire/Sammy Sosa steroid scandal, the NBA/Tim Donaghy betting scandal, the point-shaving scandal at Boston College learned long ago that professional athletes, and coaches and managers are no better or worse than you or me.

But those Little League kids that we celebrate every summer at Williamsport, or cheer for every weekend from Greenwich Village Little League to Inwood, from Peter Stuyvesant to Harlem, from Brooklyn to Queens, Nassau to Suffolk Counties, MLB just revealed there’s no such thing as the baseball equivalent of Easter Bunny or Santa Claus.

Has Mike Trout been stole signs? Pete Alonso? Aaron Judge? All of the Red Sox? All of the Astros?

What’s worst then answering that question with a definitive ‘Yes’ or ‘No,’ is having to pause and wonder, ‘Maybe.’ Maybe my guy’s a cheater.

Now, who wants to sit in a dugout and find out for sure?

Credit twitter

Betances Introduced And Mets Bullpen Could Be Lethal

Dellin Betances said Thursday at Citi Field about the Mets, “I’ve heard a lot of good things about the organization. I’m excited. I’m already at home.”

And it did not take long for Betances, now a key part of a revamped Mets bullpen, to make his decision to jump across town. Carlos Beltran, a former teammate with the Yankees is his manager.

 Beltran may have been the instrumental part of this one-year deal of $10,5 million and vesting options for the 2021 and 2022 seasons.

The Mets are better in the bullpen, assuming as stated here,  turnaround seasons come  Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia.  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.

They have Brad Bach, Robert Gsellman and the addition of Michael Wacha. Some are saying this is a lethal bullpen and that remains to be proved after finishing  next to last in baseball last year.

So there will be skepticism based on many factors, mainly,  Betances, rebounding from a  right shoulder injury and partial Achilles tendon tear. After a 60-day stint on the injured list, his September 15 season debut in the Bronx was cut short with the low-grade lat strain.

 But there could also be room for optimism with this bullpen. Betances did not get surgery and said he is ready for spring training. And, if healthy, this could be the key for a turnaround that puts the Mets in good position.

“ Our expectation is he should be ready to go,” said General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen. “I don’t think there will be any restrictions once we get to Spring Training.”

Beltran was not available. He was enjoying those last days of a vacation at his home in Puerto Rico. When the season begins, and if this bullpen is as lethal as it looks, the rookie manager will have plenty of options and flexibility. 

Betances talked about his role with the manager. The Mets were a good fit.  Betances said, he is home and is expected to be the late inning stopper. The Yankees are in the past, and  according to sources were never in the process of re-signing the Right-hander.

Beltran has the options. If Diaz can’t revert to that 57-game closer, and that may be asking too much, Betances could become the closer. He has that experience.

“Whatever they see me in, I want to do whatever I can to help the team win,” Betances said. 

He 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. Betances also  established a record with 100 strikeouts or more in five consecutive seasons with the Yankees. 

If effective, the fastball and slider are lethal and the Mets could not get that type of production last year out of the pen.

“He didn’t want to just restablish himself ,” Van Wegenen said. “He didn’t just want to go out and perform his normal job. He wanted to dominate, and he expressed that very clearly.”

And that is what the Mets hope to see- dominance from the bullpen. They could have that weapon, possibly the best bullpen in the NL East, a top three in baseball if effective, and again that word is dominant. 

It was the mission of the general manager to revamp a part of this team that was a major failure.  

Betances had that different look when he stood at the podium Thursday. The facial  hair, not a part of the Yankees look, and of course the Mets blue and orange was obvious a difficult take for a Yankees fan.

A welcome addition for Carlos Beltran. He had something to do with this for Betances to stay in New York.

“As soon as he got the managerial job, I think he kind of pushed the name Dellin Betances, as far as management, so he definitely played a big part,” Betances said. 

“Always one of the topics was, “We would love to have you. And I’ve told them all, the management, that we want you. So hopefully we get to have you’ And now, it happened.”

Yes, it did happen. And Brodie Van Wagenen was not talking about this being a risk. This was about his mission of improving the Mets bullpen.

“We believe that a healthy and dominant Dellin, combined with Edwin Diaz and Seth Lugo and Justin Wilson, Jeurys Familia, Brad Bach,, Robert Gsellman, this collective group has the potential to be one of the best bullpens in baseball,” he said.

Time will tell.  Dellin Betances stayed in his surroundings of New York. In  August, we will determine if Betances and the others have made this one of the best bullpens in baseball.

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


Michigan State Had The Plan And Takes The Pinstripe Bowl

Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson did not have a successful Bronx homecoming at Yankee Stadium Friday. The former head coach at Fordham University built a program up a few miles away at Rose Hill for three years and moved on before taking over at Wake Forest in 2014.

“This is the palace; this is the most famous place in the Bronx,” he said this week about coaching at Yankee Stadium leading up to the 10th annual New Era Pinstripe  Bowl against Michigan State. 

But the Palace did not treat him well. There was a moment when his Demon Deacons had control and appeared to be going home with their fourth consecutive bowl victory coached under Clawson.

Michigan State had other ideas as their defense came up strong. And  Brian Lewerke, in his final game, threw for 320 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a score and copped MVP game honors in leading Michigan State to a 27-21 victory. 

“They did a good job of pressuring us,” said Clawson. “I thought their defensive line did a good job of rushing the passer. We just didn’t get open on the perimeter. We didn’t make enough plays. Credit to them, they did.”

Clawson was proud of his players. Not every team gets that opportunity to compete in a late December football game at Yankee Stadium, and this Pinstripe Bowl has become a premiere event.

Syracuse, Penn State, Rutgers, and Notre Dame have been there. They also battled on the turf at Yankee Stadium in previous years in the Bronx. 

 Clawson and his team knew this was going to be a struggle against that Spartans defense and a historic program that appeared in their 29th Bowl game. 

“I’m proud of the way our players competed, battled,” Clawson said. “ We got really thin. That was a little bit the story of our season. I think when we were a healthy football team, we could play with pretty much anybody in the country.”

Yes, Clawson had to battle and keep his players on the field during a 8-4 season, 32.8 points per game that was second in the ACC.

Junior quarterback Jamie Newman, an all ACC honorable mention selection, second in the conference with 289.1 yards of total offense per game, threw three touchdown passes in the first half.

But his team with 250 yards offense in the first half could only compile 101 in the second. That also told the story of this 2019 Pinstripe Bowl.

“I thought we missed some throws,” Clawson said. “ We ran that little speed-out a couple times. Didn’t throw that well. We had opportunities to make plays. We’ll go back and watch that film. We’ll have a hard time sleeping for a couple of days.”

Similar to his days at Fordham, when his team lost to good teams in the Patriot League, Clawson provided the proper analysis ro this loss.

“There were chances to win that game,” he said.” I think as we became one-dimensional, we played from behind, they did a pretty good job rushing the passer. Again, credit to Michigan State. They’re a good football team. Sometimes when you don’t make plays, the opponent has something to do with it. I certainly want to give them their credit and their due.”

Michigan State finished the decade 92-40, though they finished 7-6 two straight years.  And they were able to contain Newman in the second half, which also contributed to their win.

And for Mark Dantonio, the Spartans’ all-time winningest coach, this was his sixth Bowl Game victory that goes with three Big 10 championships.

“ I thought we did a pretty good job rushing their tackles back into the quarterback’s lap pretty much, cut down his running opportunities,” Dantonio said. 

About Newman, he said, “A good football player. To look at it, 17 rushes per 112 yards for their quarterback. He threw the ball down the field effectively, as well. Good football player. We needed to contain him.”

 This wasn’t the Penn-State 31-30 thriller and win in overtime against Boston College in 2014. But this was a good one as the college football tradition continued at Yankee Stadium and Michigan State took home the George M. Steinbrenner III Trophy.

“Obviously when you win the football game, it’s sort of icing on the cake,” Dantonio said. “We had a great experience here.”  

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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.

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Beltran, Perfect For the Mets by Rich Mancuso/The New York Extra

NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 04: Carlos Beltran poses for pictures after being introduced as the next manager of the New York Mets during a press conference at Citi Field on November 4, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Truth is Carlos Beltran never left New York. We know the one-time New York Met was an all-star during his playing days at Shea Stadium signing that lucrative seven-year $119 million dollar deal after the 2004 season.

 Monday morning at Citi Field, he said  “I can’t wait to rewrite our story with the New York Mets.”

file photo Neil Miller /The New York Extra 2019

Now the reality of the Carlos Beltran story begins, not as the player but the manager who will begin to guide the Mets in 2020.   He now gets that opportunity as the 22nd manager in franchise history and there was never a doubt he was coming home.

 Beltran, a nine-time All-Star, World Series champion with the Houston Astros, three-time Gold Glove winner and American League Rookie of the Year, said the Mets were the only team he considered to be a first time manager.

“His familiarity with New York City, his familarity with the Mets, his understanding of how to cope with expectations , adversity and success all factored into it,” said Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen.

02/04/19 truck sendoff day at citifield for the NY Mets, queens ny Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen talks to fans at the truck send off today at Citifield File photo by Neil Miller/The New York Extra 2019

Van Wagenen said, Beltran wanted this opportunity. He was the finalist of three, but that first impression was being a players’ manager, Not that his predecessor, Mickey Calalway, wasn’t that type, but Van Wagenen obviously wanted the manager of his choice.

And what he said during the long interview process secured the deal. He desired to be a players’ manager and he will.

But that does not matter now. Carlos Beltran is home. He never left New York, retained his residence here. He learned more working under Yankees GM Brian Cashman the past two years as an adviser.

New York Yankees General Manager , Brian Cashman file photo Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Cashman was one of many that gave their endorsement to hire Beltran. 

“I feel that I have more credibility to motivate the players and be there for them,” he said.”  

Today, the way the game has changed, Beltran has those tools to relate in and out of the clubhouse.

Not that Mickey Callaway, who was dismissed after two years, didn’t have that relationship with his teams. Despite what was reported, the manager’s office was always open for communication when Callaway was at the helm.

But the Mets went in another direction and this time they brought a former player home.

 Mets fans will eventually forgive Beltran for the last out in 2006 that concluded their season and failed  to get the Mets to a World Series. And they should, because those six-and-a-half years wearing Number 15 will eventually get him to the Hall of Fame when the time comes in 2020.  

Credit twitter

Omar Minaya was a key component in getting this three-year deal with an option for a fourth done. He was always a Carlos Beltran supporter and they kept in contact.

Brodie listened to Minaya, the former GM  who signed Beltran in his free agent year. Beltran had another supporter, former Kansas City Royals GM Allard Baird, assistant to Van Wagenen who delivered Beltran to the Major Leagues.

 Beltran ended his career as the fifth player to reach both 400 home runs and 300 stolen bases, and just the fourth switch hitter with 400 home runs.

And this from Brodie Van Wagenen, “It was Carlos’ strengths that won the day. His ability to relate to young players, very few people have that ability to do that and walk in a room.”

07/24/19 San Diego Padres vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens NY #36 Mickey Callaway talks to the press before the game Neil Miller /The New York Extra

Yet this could be the most significant move made by Van Wagenen. A year on the job, he did not hire Mickey Callaway two years ago. He wanted his own manager and now he has one that comes from the family.

And if the Beltran hire does not work, Brodie Van Wagenen will have failed again in the eyes of Mets fans who want that commitment to win and play baseball in October.

But for now, the Carlos Beltran era once again begins in New York. The first Latino manager for the franchise and in New York baseball has a lot of work to do beginning Tuesday morning.

A coaching staff and lots of organizational meetings before the first pitch next March are on the agenda. More so the story, as Beltran said, is to win. And he can’t wait to rewrite the story.


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