All the Healing We Need is Taking Place in Williamsport

ROBBINS NEST

credit twitter

By Lenn Robbins

This is what unfettered, 12-year-old joy looks like. These are the jerseys that humanity wears. This is where a ball and a bat and a glove meld into a glorious amalgam of inclusion and respect and compassion.

The Little League World Series has come at the perfect time for a world wound tight in anxiety and fear and hate.

From mass shootings, to trade wars, to tensions on the Korean Peninsula and Kashmir, to protests in Hong Kong, to leaders that lead only themselves – every morning dawns in doubt.

Except in Williamsport.

In Williamsport, the world’s best 12-year-old baseball players from Mexico to Elizabeth, N.J., from Chungcheong, South Korea to Coon Rapids/Andover, Minn., from Venezuela to Australia remind us why nostalgia beats in the chambers of the heart.

In Williamsport, it doesn’t matter if you have the crazy batting stance of Venezuela’s Deivis Ordonez or the cool “Jersey Shake” celebration of the Elmora Youth Little League team.

In Williamsport, you have players nicknamed ‘Chicken Little,’ yet on these beautiful summer days and nights, no kid fears a gunman bursting into their classroom.

In Williamsport, Cubs slugger Anthony Rizzo blasts a two-run homer off the scoreboard and gives the ball to Japan’s shortstop because all of the Japanese players dapped him up.

In Williamsport, it doesn’t matter that Maddy Freking has long blond hair. It matters that she can throw strikes and make the force play at home.

In Williamsport, players on the Rhode Island team honor the memory of a Kentucky player they never met. Bowling Green coach Jef Goodnight lost his 10-year-old son Mason to a rare form of bacterial meningitis in 2017.

 Before Kentucky played Rhode Island, the New England champs touched Mason’s jersey which is displayed the Great Lakes champs’ dugout.

“We’re so fortunate to be here, and we went over to his jersey and I prayed and then I gave his dad a handshake,” Lucas Tanous, 11, told ESPN. “”It’s just so sad, but we all touched his jersey because I bet he was such a nice kid.”

In Williamsport, the Venezuelan players and coaches stop their walk-off celebration to console the Dominican Republic pitcher who gave up a two-run double in the bottom of the 6th.

In Williamsport, kids aren’t glued to their smartphones. They’re watching the next game or the previous game or sliding down the hill beyond the center field on cardboard boxes, like Cubs manager Joe Madden.

In Williamsport, the only fences are in the outfield. In Williamsport, 12-year-olds from around the world, open their arms to one another, not their mouths. In Williamsport, America’s pastime brings the world together.

In Williamsport.

Lisa Polizzi’s Janis Joplin Experience plays the Jones Beach Band Shell on Woodstock Weekend by Neil Miller nysportextra

Neil Miller/nysportsextra

If you grew up in the 60’s, then Janis Joplin was one of your most loved stars.Her voice ,passion, and tragic life captivated young and old.Fifty years ago this weekend Janis was on the stage of Woodstock.

Lisa Polizzi’s band captures the energy ,fun and good music of those times.Lisa’s voice has the grit and sound of Janis from those days.Her band is composed of herself on vocals, Mike Leccese guitar,Rick Thomas

bass, Rick Wolanski ,drums,Stewart Leiberman ,keyboards,and Eddie Berg ,sax

Her set on saturday had many of Janis’ hits for the crowd to enjoy.

Billy’s by the Bay, a Greenport place for good eats and fun by Neil Miller nysportsextra

Neil Miller/nysportsextra

Billy’s by the Bay is one of the many very good restaurants in the Greenport area.Its location at 2530 Manhasset ave (631-477-8300), is at one of the marinas that boaters and diners go to in the North Fork seaport.

Neil Miller /nysportsextra

Billy’s has a excellent menu that includes a raw bar as well standard starters.Salads ,sandwiches, baskets , burgers and of course lobster is served.The crowd is relaxed and friendly.On the Sunday when nysportsextra visited, Gene Casey and The Lone Sharks played a variety of favorite hits.An easy going and fun place to go, Billy’s is a must when you visit the Greenport area.

Nick Saban Isn’t Happy: Lord Help the Tide’s Opponents

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

   Nick Saban, arguably the greatest head coach in college football history, is not happy. Which is truly an intimidating situation for every other program in the nation.

 Saban believes his players were undisciplined at times last season. He thinks his team’s preparation wasn’t as good as it should have been on occasion. He speculates that some of his players, now in the NFL, were thinking about themselves ahead of the team.

  Saban has spent the last the last six months talking about re-establishing the program’s standard of excellence. Yes, that is a scary narrative if your team faces the Crimson Tide this season.

  Mind you, Alabama went 14-1 and last season, not 11-3 or some other utterly unacceptable record in Tuscaloosa. It’s not as if the standard fell off the table. But when you’re Alabama, winner of 15 national championships, the standard is staggeringly high.

  So after getting embarrassed in the national championship game, a 44-16 beat down at the hands of Clemson, you better believe that Saban has done everything in his power to make certain the Tide is as disciplined, prepared and focused as any team in the nation.

  Oh yes, Alabama also happens to have one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in Tua Tagovailoa, a ridiculous amount of depth and talent on both sides of the ball and a schedule that is fair by SEC standards.

  The 2019 season begins Saturday with Miami and Florida meeting at Camping World Stadium in Orlando (7:00 p.m.; ESPN), followed by Arizona at Hawaii (10:00 p.m.; CBSSN). Although Clemson and Alabama have dominated the preseason polls, neither are undisputed favorites. NYSportsExtra.com looks at the nation’s Top 25 teams, starting with The Tide.

  “I think that the key to us, the key to our success, is can we internally re-establish the standard of what we need to do to be the best team that we can be?” said Saban. “And that’s got to be something that’s done on a consistent basis, and it has to be able to sustain the season. And that’s a challenge for all of us.”

  The challenge for every other team is to find a way to beat ‘Bama.

  1. Alabama: Player Watch: WR Jerry Jeudy. Key Game: Nov. 16 at Mississippi State – Can ‘Bama respond the week after hosting LSU? That BCS Championship Game humiliation provides a lot of motivation. Skinny: Bama’s mindset – to physical dominate at every position – has proved hard to beat.
  • Georgia: Player Watch: RB D’Andre Swift. Key Game: Nov. 16 at Auburn – Showdown on the Plains. Skinny: Dawgs are sick and tired of looking up at Alabama. They have lots of company.
  • Oklahoma: Player Watch: QB Jalen Hurts. Key Game: Nov. 30th at Oklahoma St. – Bedlam. Skinny: Hurts replaces Kyler Murray who replaced Baker Mayfield. Can’t be that easy, can it?
  • Washington: Player Watch: Georgia transfer QB Jacob Eason. Oct 5th at Stanford – One week after hosting USC. Skinny: Chris Petersen has his teams consistently physically and fundamentally prepared.
  • Clemson: Player Watch: Key Game: Sept 14th at Syracuse – One week after hosting Texas A&M. Skinny: Yes, we know QB Trevor Lawrence is exceptional but the Tigers lost an NFL caliber line of defenders.
  • Michigan: Player Watch: RB Zach Charnonnet. Key Game: Nov. 30th vs Ohio State – Wolverines haven’t beaten the Buckeyes since 2011. Skinny: Michigan has been to Vatican; It hasn’t been to the CFP. Favorable schedule.
  • Florida: Player Watch: CB C.J. Henderson; Key Game: Oct. 12th at LSU – One week after Auburn, the Gators go to Death Valley. Skinny: There’s always talent in Gainesville but this is about Year 2 under Dan Mullen.
  • Ohio State: Player Watch: DE Chase Young.  Key Game: Sept 28th at Nebraska – Georgia transfer QB Justin Fields gets his first nerve-fraying road game. Skinny: Time for Buckeyes to get back to the CFP instead of worrying about trademarking, ‘The.’
  • LSU: Player Watch: SS Grant Delpit. Key Game: Nov. 9th at Alabama – If the Tigers want to get back to the SEC elite, no better place to start. Skinny: LSU always has some of the best talent in the country; does it now have discipline and coaching to match?

10. Notre Dame: Player Watch: OG Tommy Kraemer. Key Game: Sept 28 vs Virginia – One week after what figures to be a physical and emotional battle in Athens, can the Irish be ready for a resurgent Virginia program? Skinny: Coach Brian Kelly will need all the depth he’s built to handle this brutal schedule.

Woodstock,lessons learned, and lost by Neil Miller

Fifty years this weekend an event that has shaped a generation then and now, happened upstate.The things that lead up to Woodstock and the lessons from it still hold true today.

Its been said that Woodstock could never happen again,and that’s totally correct.The late 60’s brought together the greatest music of our times.The creativity, the variety and the energy of Janis,Carlos,Jimmy,Jerry,Jorma and Sly , and more could never be re-created.

.Although we have many fine groups now,with the over production of concerts we will never have the uniqueness of the music scene then.

So, what did we learn from Woodstock,and what lessons did we forget?We learned to share life in its fullness and the joy of music and companionship with all around us.We learned that those with political views tried to use that as a lever for their own purposes.We learned the strength of beliefs that bind a nation together.

And what lessons did we forget?we forgot that the musician of that time brought a vision of life as they saw it and shared it with the world. and we forgot then ,and today,that others[read that politicians} would try to use that against us.

The moral of this editorial is simple:trust in your beliefs,your heart, your love of life,family. god and country. Dont let others destroy what made our generation unique in what is was then and now.Do good in this life, to yourself and to others. Neil Miller/publisher nysportsextra copyright 2019

45 RPM Long Islands fun band by Neil Miller nysportsextra

Think of fun at any of the Long Island music spots and you think of 45 RPM. This band of Danny Calvagna ,vocals,Tony Tallarico keyboards,Mike Barberich lead guitar,Mike Hack, guitar, Simon Walsh ,bass and Linda Mackley drums,play all of the AM music favorites from the 60s on up.

From left to right Mike Barberich,Danny Calvagna and Simon Walsh Neil Miller /nysportsextra

Tonite was no exception, as the crowd a Maliblu at Lido Beach enjoyed their set.

Neil Miller /nysportsextra

Neil Miller /nysportsextra

Maybe the Yankees Will Get the Pitching Help They Need. Maybe Not

08/15/19 Cleveland Indians vs New York Yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny yanks trail 11-1 after 4 1/2 inning #43 Jonathan Loaisiga ” spit the bit” after giving a 2 run homer in the 1st inning Neil Miller /nysportsextra

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

From the moment the trade deadline came and went and the Yankees did nothing to bolster their pitching, the narrative coming from the front office went something like this: We’ve got some guys coming back from injury that will help us.

Um.

One of those players returned Thursday night and the results were frighteningly playoff awful.

Jonathan Loaisiga got lit up by the Cleveland Indians in a 19-5 Yankees loss. By the time Loaisiga entered the game, the Yankees already were in the soup. One-inning starter/reliever Chad Green didn’t even last an inning, giving up two home runs in just one-third of an inning.

08/15/19 Cleveland Indians vs New York Yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny #57 chad green fires down the rosin bag after giving up a grad slam to indians #11 jose ramirez in the 1st inning Neil Miller /nysportsextra

Enter Loaisiga. He gave up four earned runs on another two home runs.

Loaisiga’s performance was understandable. He’s been on the injured list since May 8th with a right shoulder strain. Maybe he’ll be better in his next outing. Maybe not.

jonathan loaisiga Neil Miller /nysportsexta

Maybe the Yankees will get back Luis Severino. Maybe not.

Maybe they’ll get back Dellin Betances. Maybe not.

delin bentaces file photo nysportsextra/Neil Miller

Severino (right shoulder) threw a 30-pitch bullpen session, using all of his pitches. Betances (right shoulder impingement) also threw a bullpen session. If they can return, both will certainly need a few outings to gauge their playoff readiness. There are 39 games left.

severino /Neil Miller /nysportsextra

For Yankees fans, this loss brought back nightmares of that late-July stretch against the Twins and Red Sox when the pitching got blown up. That was prior to the July 31 trade deadline. This was after. The Indians scored their 19 runs on 24 hits, seven of which were home runs.

While the Dodgers, Yankees and Astros are considered the favorites to win the World Series, the Indians are a legitimately dangerous team; exactly the kind of team that could take out the Yankees in the ALDS or ALCS.

The Yankees (81-42) have shown remarkable depth and resiliency but they haven’t been tested the way the Indians have. Cleveland (73-49), once trailed the Twins by 11 and one-half games in the AL Central. Those teams now are in a virtual tie for the division lead.

The Indians starting pitching is so deep they felt confident trading Trevor Bauer (who the Yanks had eyes on) to the Reds. In return, they got Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes – instantly upgrading their lineup – and lefthanded pitcher Logan Allen.

Puig went 2-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored. Reyes went 2-for-6. The Indians are optimistic they’ll get Corey Kluber (broken forearm) back soon. They also might get Carlos Carrasco (leukemia).

But the Indians made moves before the deadline, making them a better squad. So did the Astros (Zack Greinke). Even the Dodgers acquired lefty sidearm reliever Adam Kolarek, who could be the kind of thrower that becomes a postseason star.

The Yankees made no moves. Maybe Severino, Betances and Loaisiga will return and round into form before the calendar reads, “October.” Right now, it’s looking like maybe not.

NOTES: Pete Alonso became just the third rookie in Mets history to drive in six runs in a game in the team’s 10-8 win over the Braves. He also tied Cody Bellinger’s National League rookie record of 39 home runs set in 2017. That record is falling like the stock market.

Yanks trail the Indians 11-1 after 4 innings

A bad start to the game by #57 Chad Green lead to him giving up 5 runs. #43 Jonathan Loaisiga did no better, giving up 2 runs in the 1st and two in the 2nd inning

Mets Getting a Brutal Dose of Reality

#36 Mickey Callaway file photo Neil Miller /nysportsextra copyright 2019

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

When a team had been going as well as the Mets, when Citi Field had become a playground of thrills and chills, when the Wild Card had become a legitimate goal instead of a punch line, these last few games have served as a brutal reality slap.

Reality: Despite that amazing stretch in which the Mets won 15-of-16 they remain a flawed and thin team.

After Wednesday night’s 6-4 loss to the Braves in Atlanta, an eight-game win streak has been replaced by a three-game losing streak.

It was just this past Sunday that the Mets were even with the Washington Nationals for the Wild Card. This morning they are three games out of the playoffs, muddled with six other teams that are within 4.5 games of the two Wild Card spots.

After winning series against the Padres, Pirates (twice), White Sox, Marlins and Nationals, the Mets (61-59) are assured of losing their first series since July 18-21 when they dropped 3-of-4 to the Giants.

Suddenly, the Mets world seems dubious.

“We’re still in a good spot,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway told reporters. “It’s not the end of the world.”

It’s just starting to feel that way.

#36 Mickey Calloway file photo Neil Miller /nysportsextra copyright 2019

But that’s no reason to lose sight of the long view. No true Mets fan, I’m referring to the Mets fans that have seen the annual hope in April evaporate by the dog days of August, really believed this was a playoff team.

They might have been talking themselves into believing in a miracle but the flaws were too glaring to ignore. The bullpen was awful. The offense was anemic. The depth was shallow. The manager was suspect. And the vaunted starting pitching wasn’t living up to expectations.

We’ve seen several of those warts these last three games.

* Uncloser Edwin Diaz continued his train wreck of a season in the 7-4 loss to the Nationals.

#39 Edwin Diaz file photo Neil Miller / nysportsextra copyright 2019

* Starter Zack Wheeler was off in a 5-3 loss.

#45 Zach Wheeler file photo Neil Miller /nysportsextra copyright 2019

* Seth Lugo, whose been as good a reliever as anyone in baseball, got scorched Wednesday night.

* Callaway still is trying to convince the world he made the right decision pulling Steven Matz in the seventh inning of Wednesday night’s loss when the Long Island native had thrown just 79 pitches.

And during this three-game streak the Mets lost their best hitter, Jeff McNeil to a hamstring injury.

#6 Jeff Mc Neil bats file photo Neil Miller/nysportsextra copyright 2019

Now that the Mets have completed the cream puff portion of their schedule, the flaws are popping out all over once again. Even during the amazing run, one of the players most responsible for that success, was planting the seed that this Mets turnaround wouldn’t necessarily yield the desired result this season.

“At the end of the day or at the end of the year, we are going to be in a really good spot,’’ Alonso told reporters in early August.

The truth is the Mets are in a really good spot going forward. If they resign Wheeler, which they absolutely should, the Mets will have the best rotation in the game. Alonso, McNeil and Michael Conforto are big time hitters.

Bolstering the bullpen, adding another bat and depth, and finding another manager should be high on the offseason to-do list. If the Mets do that, 2020 could be special.

Is this season over? Of course not. Is the possibility of the playoffs kaput? No.

But reality can be a brutal slap. Just brutal.

The Undisputed Greatest NFL Players of All-Time

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

  Antonio Brown is having issues with his feet and helmet. Tom Brady is selling his Massachusetts house. Dak Prescott reportedly wants $40 million a year. Daniel Jones, booed just a few months ago, is headed to the Hall of Fame. So is Jarrett Stidham. And Kyler Murray has wrapped up the MVP.

Lord is it great to have the NFL back!

With Week 2 of the preseason upon us and Fantasy Football Owners cutting off all communication with loved ones, we offer you the best NFL players of all-time, position by position.

Feel free to vent!

OFFENSE

QB – Tom Brady: Pats – Yes, Dan Marino had a stronger arm. And you can make an argument for Joe Montana with the ball, down six, with 90 seconds left. But Brady has set a new standard.

RB – Jim Brown: Browns – The greatest offensive player of all time.

RB – Walter Payton: Bears – Made the stiff arm and the dead leg the envy of all backs.

TE – John Mackey: Colts, Chargers – Tony Gonzalez as better numbers Kellen Winslow was a better deep threat. But for receiving, blocking and toughness, Mackey gets the nod.

WR – Jerry Rice: 49ers – The master technician had DB’s beat at the line of scrimmage.

WR – Randy Moss: Vikings, Raiders, Pats, Titans, 49ers – At 6-4, 210, he redfined the WR position. Imagine if he played his entire career with Brady?

OT – Anthony Munoz: Bengals – Simply physically and mentally dominant, missing just three games in his first 12 seasons.

OG – John Hannah: Pats – If a cornerback had a choice of meeting a train or a pulling Hannah, well, it’s not a no-brainer.

C – Jim Otto: Raiders – Arguably the toughest player of all time, he underwent some 40 surgeries during and after his career.

OG – Bruce Matthews: Oilers, Titans – Mr. Versatile; started at all five OL positions – and dominated.

OT – Jonathan Ogden: Ravens – 6-9, 345 pounds of strength and athleticism.

PK – Justin Tucker: Ravens – He’s missed one PAT. One out of 242. And has nailed 90-percent of his field goal attempts.

KOR – Gale Sayers: Bears – In an injury-shortened career, the Kansas Comet averaged 30.6 yards per return and was the most breathtaking open-field runner ever.

PR – Devin Hester: Bears, Falcons, Ravens, Seahawks – The epitome of a cocky, electric Miami athlete; you sat up whenever he received a punt and headed upfield.

DEFENSE

DE – Reggie White: Eagles – No lineman was better against the run and pass. Or classier.

DL – Mean Joe Greene: Steelers – He wasn’t the meanest. But he was the ultimate disrupter for the Steel Curtain.

DL – Bob Lily: Cowboys: Headliner of the Dallas Doomsday Defense.

DE – Deacon Jones: Rams, Chargers, Redskins – Quarterbacks saw him in their nightmares. And in their waking hours.

LB – Lawrence Taylor: Giants – The greatest defensive player of all time.

MLB – Dick Butkus: Bears – Sorry Joe, Butkus was the meanest player of all time.

LB – Ted Hendricks: Colts, Packers, Raiders – Until LT came along, The Mad Stork was the standard for an OLB. Exemplary nickname.

CB – Deion Sanders: Falcons, 49ers, Cowboys, Redskins, Ravens – Arguably the greatest athlete to play the game in Prime Time, or any other time.

CB – Mike Haynes: Raiders – The most physical corner to play the game. NFL has become a passing league because of the style with which he played.

SS – Ronnie Lott: 49ers – Warning: Go over the middle at your own peril.

FS – Emlen Tunnell: Giants – Turned the safety position into an offensive threat with 1,282 yards in interception returns.

P – Ray Guy: Raiders – Didn’t just flip the field, he flipped the game.

Special Teams – Steve Tasker: Oilers, Bills – The 5-9, 183-pound, 9th-round draft pick made ‘Gunner’ a cool position with his hustle and hitting.

MANAGEMENT

Coach – Bill Belichick: Browns, Pats – 1. Sixteen AFC East titles. 2. Six Super Bowl championships. 3. Notice how many players leave N.E. for more money but never play as well? Notice how many players come to N.E. and have their best years?

GM – Tex Schramm – Not only did he draft some of the greatest players of all time (Lily, Tony Dorsett, Herschel Walker) but he was one of the first to scout small schools. And we wouldn’t have the combine if not for Schramm.

Mets fail to sweep the Nats on inconsistent pitching

08/11/19 Washington Nationals vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny #48 Jacob De Grom reacts after giving up 3 runs in the 1st inning today Neil Miller /nysportsextra copyright 2019

It would have been nice , but it was not to be on Sundays day game.A rare poor start to a game by Jake DeGrom, was follwed by a bad inning by both Gsellman and Diaz this afternoon, even tho the Mets pulled to a 5-4 deficent, the 2 run homer given up in the 8th inning sealed the deal today.

08/11/19 Washington Nationals vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny #48 Jacob DeGrom pitches in the 4th inning Neil Miller /nysportsextra copyright 2019

Although the Mets did take advantage of most of the chances today in the batters box,it wasnt enough to overcome the pitching mistakes today

08/11/19 Washington Nationals vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny #39 Edwin Diaz reacts after giving up a 2 run homer in the 8th inning

One nice play was by Mike concorto making a catch in deep center field in the 5th innning

08/11/19 Washington Nationals vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny #30 Mike Conforto makes a leaping catching in the 5th inning Neil Miller /nysportsextra copyright 2019

Pinch Yourself: The Mets Are Never Out of a Game

Credit twitter

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

 When was the first time you pinched yourself Friday night?

Was it when Todd Frazier’s three-run homer left Citi Field faster than the Mets can print playoff tickets? Or was it when Michael Conforto launched the most thrilling single of the season, driving in Juan Lagares with the winning run in a stunning, thrilling, unbelievable 7-6 win over the Nationals?

Or was it Saturday morning when you awoke on planet Earth and it was confirmed that the Amazin’ events of last night were not a dream?

Conforto really was running shirtless in the outfield after the giddiest players not in the Little League World Series celebrated in short center. Dominic Smith, his injured left leg resting on a scooter, was violating some obscure city driving ordinance by tearing out to join the celebration.

“It felt like the playoffs with the stadium packed,’’ Conforto told reporters.

Yep, it felt like the playoffs. It felt like the playoffs In Citi Field not Yankee Stadium, where playoffs feel like an annual rite. The fans that call Citi Field home don’t enjoy October baseball very often. But they got a taste of it Friday night, and man, was that delicious.

Trailing 6-3 in the bottom of the ninth against the best National League team they’ve faced since the All Star Break, J.D. Davis doubled against Nationals closer Sean Doolittle. Wilson Ramos singled to center.

Frazier came to the plate with visions of going deep.

“Pretty much,’’ he admitted later.

Frazier should be charged with baseball abuse for how criminally he crushed Doolittle’s pitch. Game tied, 6-6.

“You don’t feel like you’re out of a game when you’re on a run like this,’’ said Frazier.

Ah yes. The Run. Perhaps that’s the title of the second half of the Mets season. The Run.

With Citi Field still reverberating from Frazier’s blast, more magic. Joe Panik, making his Mets debut, singled. He was erased on Lagares’ bunt. Jeff McNeil flied to right. Amed Rosario singled to left.

Up came Conforto, the former first-round pick in the 2014 draft and closest thing the Mets have to an elite bat. His hard, rising blast to right cleared Adam Eaton’s head and mayhem came to Queens.

The win marked the first time this season the Mets won a game in which they trailed after eight innings. Forty-four times the Mets had failed in that situation. But on this night, the Mets told themselves, and their fans, they are not the same old Mets.

They had won for the 14th time in 15 games, a feat not accomplished since 1990.

As the fans erupted in euphoric celebration, the Mets hopped the dugout railing and made a run for Conforto. Pete Alonso, not quite sure what to do in such scenarios, pulled off Conforto’s jersey.

The Mets are now one-half game out of the Wild Card and one and one-half games behind the Nationals for the first Wild Card.

“Right now, we’re firing on all cylinders,’’ Conforto said. “Our confidence is just building with each win.”

Go ahead. Pinch yourself.

Contenders or Pretenders: Time for the Mets to Declare

08/05/19 Miami Marlins vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny #20 pete alonso celebrates on a go ahead homer in the 7th innning Neil Miller /nysportsextra copyright 2019

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

  Miracle Makers or Dream Teasers?

 The time has come for the Mets to declare.

They are the hottest team in baseball, having won 14 of their last 15. They have gone 20-6 since the All-Star Break. They are a season-high 12 games above .500. They are one-half a game out of the Wild Card.

One-half a game.

This weekend they face the question on everyone baseball fans’ mind, on their mind: Are the Mets contenders or pretenders?

The Washington Nationals, also a team once enduring a bust of a season, come to Citi Field for a three-game series  starting on Friday.  The Nat’s own the first Wild Card with a 61-53 record. The Nats were 19-31 on May, 23rd after getting swept by – the Mets. It was a four-game sweep.

Man, did the Nats turn it around.

Man, did the Mets turn it around?

#20 pete alonso file photo Neil Miller/nysportsextra copyright 2019

“You got to slay the giant so to speak,’’ rookie slugger Pete Alonso told reporters after Wednesday’s 7-2 dusting of the Marlins. “You have to go through these tough teams in order to get to the playoffs and when you get to the playoffs it’s just going to be that much harder.

 “If we keep playing the way we are, we’ve hit well, our defense has been awesome and our pitching has been light’s out, so I think that’s going to be a really tough combo.’’

This is the time to see just how tough are the Mets. They say their early-season struggles only made them tougher, closer, more confident. But were they tough players in a soft stretch.

Those 20 wins have come against the Marlins, Twins, Giants Padres, Pirates and White Sox.

If the season were to end today, only the Twins would be in the playoffs. The Marlins and Pirates occupy last place in their respective division. The Padres are half a game out of last place in the NL West.

The Giants, like the Mets, became buyers, not sellers at the trade deadline. They just got swept by the Nationals. Yes, the Nats already revealed one surging team to be a fraud.

Are the Mets next?

#36 mickey calloway in the dugout in the 3rd innning file photo Neil Miller nysportsexta copyright 2019

“What we’ve done is not easy but it’s in the past,’’ manager Mickey Callaway said. “Our focus is on the next game. The things that we’ve been through are going to allow us to be a better team than we otherwise would have been down the stretch. We’re trying to accomplish something as a team together that can be very special.”

Special? Yes. Magical? Perhaps.

The National were expected to be in the playoff discussion. They Mets were not.

The Mets recently lost Robinson Cano to a torn hamstring. The Nats will be without Bryce Harper, who just went on the Injured List with a bruised knee.

The field is even. Are the two teams? It’s time for the Mets to declare.

“We’ve got a chance to do something really great,’’ Alonso said.

They really do.

The Almost Brother Band at Shell Creek Park by Neil Miller nsportsextra

8/02/19 almost brothers band at the TOH mobile bandshell ,shell creek park, island park ny from left to right Sean Mc Grath, Joe Wasserman,Tom Hooker,Bob Owen,Dave Losse, and Dave Filloramo

This review is easy to do ! The Almost Brother Band is one of the most favorite Allmans cover band on the Island, and one of the most fun to listen to,and enjoy the crowd they always draw.The Brothers feature Sean McGrath and Dave Filloramo on guitars,Joe Wasserman keyboards,Tom Hooker bass,Bob Owen, vocals and percussion, and Dave Losse and Bruce Dickson ,drums.

above photos Neil Miller /nysportsextra copyright 2019

In my interview with Sean, we went over the beginnings of the band,and how the pieces went together together to form the current band.More importantly, was his vision of what the creative force and the direction of the band was.” We try to separate our band from others in that we take from the Allmans the inventive energy that had ,and bring that into our music”

The crowd at Shell Creek enjoyed favorites like Statesboro Blues,and Blue Skies amont others.

Salt Shack,the favorite place on the Ocean Parkway by Neil Miller nysportsextra

The 70’s band plays at The Salt Shack last Sunday night Neil Miller /nysportsextra

The Salt Shack is a venue I write about a few times a year, and with good reason.It features the best dance bands on the island.This Sunday was no exception with The 70’s Band taking the stage.

gallery by Neil Miller /nysportsextra

After a brief shower the band started around 7:30, with their always favorite mix of dance tunes.Please see the attached photos for all the fun.

galleries by Neil Miller/nysportsextra

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Pete Alonso is Mets driving force Neil Miller nysportsextra

08/05/19 Marlins vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny #20 pete alonso celebrates on a go ahead homer in the 7th innning Neil Miller /nysportsextra

Last nights 7th inning in the 2nd game of the double header was specila for the fans and the team.The recent comeback to go over .500 was capped by 2 homers by Mike Conforto and Pete Alonso.But Citifield just about exploded when Petes ball left his bat.

08/05/19 Miami Marlins vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny #20 pete alonso celebrates on a go ahead homer in the 7th innning Neil Miller /nysportsextra

This story is just a side bar to the recent Mets push towards a playoff spot, but if they can keep this energy going, its going to be fun for the team and the fans

Great News for Jets: Darnold Needs No Protecting

Robbins Nest

Sam Darnold sets up to pass Friday, August 24, 2018. (Photo by Dave Pokress)

By Lenn Robbins

We’re way past the point of wondering if the Jets were lucky or good in the 2018 NFL Draft.

New York football fans that still want to rip the Giants for not drafting Sam Darnold – or any other quarterback they believe could spell, ‘franchise’ – can’t be the slightest bit disappointed in Saquon Barkley – a back for the ages.

We will be ridiculously fortunate to watch Barkley, who has the most impressive thighs outside of those featured in the S.I. Swimsuit issue. He will stop and start, change direction, accelerate, decelerate, catch passes, break off 50-yard touchdown runs and, yes, block.

In just his second season, Barkley is the most complete back in the league.

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But can he lead a team to the Super Bowl in this era of carnival passing offenses? Can any back?

Doubtful. In this era of Air Raid offense, the quarterback is the common denominator: Have a great one and there’s a chance to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Have a mediocre one and maybe you win a title with a great supporting cast.

(Side note: Still don’t know where Nick Foles lands in this conversation).

The last team to win it all with a pedestrian quarterback was the Baltimore Ravens in 2012. Joe Flacco, who now is with the Denver Broncos, played a marvelous Super Bowl but it was the Ravens angry-mob defense that carried that team.

The Jets have the makings of a very good, potentially great defense. Once again, we don’t know if they were good or lucky to have Quinnen Williams drop to them with the No.3 pick, but he was the best player in the 2019 Draft.

The Jets also might have that elite quarterback in Darnold.

Darnold, 22, could be the best quarterback to wear a Jets jersey since Joe Namath. He could lead the Jets to only their second Super Bowl win in 59 seasons. The Ravens, for comparison, have won two in 24 seasons.

When it comes to Jets futility there is no shortage of reasons. For this space, it comes down to one fact – they have only had that superstar quarterback once. Once.

Now here is Darnold telling us that he feels great heading into the year and he’s right where he wants to be. His coach, Adam Gase, has gushed that he didn’t appreciate Darnold’s arm strength after Gase saw him live twice last season as the coach of the Dolphins.

Darnold played like most rookie quarterbacks last season.

He threw almost as many interceptions (15) as touchdowns (17). His passer rating (77.6) would put him in the ‘Also Receiving Votes” category for worst rookie quarterbacks of all time.

 One of those on the list is Eli Manning who threw nine interceptions, six touchdowns and a had a passer rating of 55.4 as a rookie. Manning turned out quite well, leading the Giants to two Super Bowls and a one-way ticket to Canton one day.

Now here stands Darnold, about to enter Year 2. He doesn’t not have the greatest arsenal of weapons although running back Le’Veon Bell, who was Barkley before Barkley, can hurt teams in a lot of ways. Darnold has a quarterback friendly coach in Gase. But he has something extra.

Darnold, the former USC quarterback, has a swagger that is the perfect pitch of subtle meets confidence. At his introductory press conference last season, when he was just 20 years of age, he was thrown a tough ball: Was he aware of the Jets quarterback tradition (gag!)?

“I’m aware of it,’’ he deftly responded. “Not growing up a Jets fan, I don’t understand quite to that extent. But again, I’m going to come in here and do my job and be very confident in myself.”

Darnold has a California-sized confidence. How else could he not have crumbled when his first NFL pass attempt turned into a Pick 6? (BTW: Brett Favre also had his first pass picked and returned as well.) Hey, Jets fans will take any morsel of hope that can nibble on.

Darnold took the blame for a couple of losses last season but he was never more accountable than after a 21-17 loss to the Browns.

“It’s not acceptable the way I played,” Darnold told reporters after the loss. “I just made stupid mistakes in the fourth quarter and some missed opportunities throughout the whole game. I have to play better, and that’s on me.”

The Jets franchise now resides on Darnold’s shoulders. He says he is more comfortable and confident than he was as a rookie. But it’s what Gase said that really gives Jets fans hope that finally, the savior has arrived.

“He’s not the kind of quarterback you’re looking to protect,’’ said Gase.

No, the Jets are looking for much more. So is Darnold.

From despair to hope.A story about suicide among 1st responders and the battle to help them by Neil Miller nysportsexta

Members of Sworn Guns, a law enforcement riders group dedicated to suicide prevention for 1st responders Neil Miller /nysportsextra

Today, 08/04/19,in Greenport Village, Long Island,motorcycle units of the NYPD,NCPD,SCPD and NY state, along with concerned civilians, numbering in the hundreds,gathered after a run to celebrate the life, and to reflect on the passing of former NYPD Inspector Mike Ameri, who took his life in May of 2016.

gallery Neil Miller /nysportsextra

Mike Ameri was the friend of NYPD Inspector Rich Green ,that started this memorial run in 2016 to honor his memory, and to create a group to promote awareness of the epidemic in !st responders,and to financially and emotionally support the families of officers and other 1st responders that take their own lives.

Inspector Green riders group is called the Sworn Guns, which ran the event today. Many,many other law enforcement rider groups from all over the tri-state area participated in todays event.

Rich and I talked during the event,where he stressed the importance of outreach to officers at risk and how to remove the stigma of 1st responders asking for help, and reading the signs of at risk officers.Rich said”If you know someone that is considering suicide dont hesitate to help them.A day, an hour ,a minute may too late to save a life”

Rich’s group gives financial support to children of fallen officers for their education.Rich also talked about a bill at the federal level,if signed, would provide funds for research,prevention and treatment for 1st responders.

gallery Neil Miller /nysportsextra

Todays outpouring of brotherhood between these officers that share the same duties and stresses of police,fire ,EMT ,only helps to highlight the difficulties of their jobs, and the negative outcome that sometimes happens.Inspector Green hopes that his efforts along with others at the local and national level will raise awareness of this disease so that no one that serves feels ashamed to ask for help if needed.Let us all ask God to guide and help this brave men and women who protect us each and every day.

Claudios,The North Fork summer hot spot by Neil Miller nysportsextra

Claudios=’s dance floor 08/04/19 Neil Miller /nysportsextra

Claudios,in Greenport Village on Long Island’s North Fork,is a favorite gathering spot for the summer crowd on the North Fork.It features a large oval bar under a canopy,tables for food service,a wrap around deck, and a large dance floor.

view of the bar at Claudio’s 08/04/19 Neil Miller/ nysportsextra

Many boats both small to very large dock at Claudios for food and drink.Next dock over is their seafood restaurant,Crabby Jerry’s,serving a wide variety of seafood and summer fare.

view of marina at Claudio’s 08/04/19 Neil Miller nysportextra

Todays band was,X-Session,that played a nice selection of dance tunes.With Pat Montefusco on guitar,Al Korenstein on keyboards,Jim Del on drum,Mike Quadrino on sax , and Eddie Profet jr on bass, every one got out on the dance floor a good time.

Always a hot spot ,everyone should make at least one trip a summer to Claudios at Greenport.

Gallery Neil Miller /nysportsextra

Is It Time to Start Believing in the Mets Again

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

04/23/19 phila phillies vs ny mets at citifield queens ny photos by neil miller / nysportsextra ny met #24 robinson cano high fives with #21 todd ferazier after hitting a grand slam in the 5th innning

Let’s stay in the real world. The Mets chances of making the playoffs remains somewhere between improbable and miraculous.

After Saturday night’s 7-5 stirring come-from-behind win against the Pirates in Pittsburgh, the Mets remain four and one-half games out of the final Wild Card with 52 games remaining. They are tied with the Arizona Diamondbacks at 54-56 and have five other teams ahead of them for that last spot.

Those of us fortunate enough to have been on that Amazing ride in 1969 know miracles were possible long before Al Michaels told us so at the 1980 Olympics.

 Those of us lucky enough to have an older friend or relative to recount the tales of that miraculous August, September and October wonder if they would ever see such magic for themselves.

So when the 2019 Mets went on a spurt before, and now, after the All-Star break, there was some folly musings that this could be 1969 all over again. Then the Mets went all contrarian on the baseball world and GM Brodie Van Wagenen became a buyer instead of seller, acquiring starter Marcus Stroman.

“We both feel like we can win and go on a run and get into this thing,’’ manager Mickey Calloway told reporters.

This was a head scratcher that only a rake could sate.

“Get into this thing?!”

The Mets? Get into the playoffs? Lol. Lol. Lol.

Yet after Saturday night’s win, it’s not insane to say, ‘Maybe.’

The 7-5 victory came on the heels of an 8-4 loss to the Pirates that snapped a seven-game win streak. After a 12-game stretch in which the Mets starters were 1969-like superb, Steven Matz turned in a subpar performance and SNAP went the streak.

“Let’s just start another streak,’’ Calloway told reporters, as if starting a streak in baseball is as easy as snapping a Selfie.

The baseball gods have been irked over less flippant statements.

We won’t know for a few games if the Mets are streaking in the direction but we do know this: The Mets won a bounce back game in come-from-behind fashion and the bullpen didn’t blow it.

“Tonight was elusive to us in the first half,” Callaway acknowledged to reporters. “It was tough to stop the bleeding, and I think we understand we have to do that. I don’t think we’ve ever given up, but we just have to get it done.”

The Mets got it done. Stroman made his first start for the Mets and was uneven as was to be expected. He hadn’t pitched since July 24th and making a debut for a team that believes it can be in the postseason can give many a pitcher pause.

Yet the Mets overcame a shaky start, rallied from down 3-1 and Seth Lugo, pitched a scoreless eighth inning. The blemish on this game was Edwin Diaz who surrendered a two-run home run in the ninth.

If you need more reason to seriously think about reinvesting your heart and soul in the Mets, consider this: Lugo was named NL Reliever of the Month. Yes, a member of the Mets pen won Reliever of the Month!

Baseball hardly is the sport to point to one game and declare it the most important of the season. Picking one of 162 is like picking the moment when a teenager started acting like an adult.

Maybe, just maybe, the Mets are starting to act like winners.

Yanks pound the Sox 9-2 by Neil Miller / nysportsextra

The Yanks cleaned up on the Sox today with a solid outing form Domingo German, only giving up 2 runs, and a stellar day by D.J. Le Mahieu, going 3 for 5 with 2 homer accounting for 4 of the Yanks runs.

08/03/19 boston red sox vs ny yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny yanks win 9-2. #26 dj lemahieu hits a solo homer in the 1st inning Neil Miller /nysportsextra copyright 2019

Brett Gardner also had a good day going going 3 for five.The down side ,however was Edwin Encarnacion geeting hit on the wrist in the 8th inning, and leaving the game

08/03/19 boston red sox vs ny yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny #11 brett gardner hits a basehit in the 4th inning Neil Miller /nysportsextra copyright 2019
08/03/19 boston red sox vs ny yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny yanks win 9-2. #30 edwin eccarnacion reacts after getting hit on the left wrist on a pitch by #67 josh smith in the 8th innning Neil Miller /nysportsexta copyright 2019
08/03/19 boston red sox vs ny yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny New York Yankees starting pitcher Domingo German #55 pitches in the 1st inning today Neil Miller nysportsextra copyright 2019

08/03/19 boston red sox vs ny yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny yanks win 9-2. #53 jon holder pitched 2 innnings in releif for the yanks today Neil Miller /nysportsextra copyright 2019

gallery by Neil Miller / nysportsextra copyright 2019

N.Y.Giants practice 08/01/19

The Cloud That Hangs Over the Giants: Ageism

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

  You can’t blame this on Dave Gettleman, or Jerry Reese.

File photo Neil Miller Nysportsextra

 The Giants, a family affair, always looked within, always took care of their own. Reese learned at Ernie Accorsi’s knee and had a solid resume. He was promoted to GM when Accorsi retired.

  You can’t blame this on Pat Shurmur or Steve Spagnuolo or even Bob McAdoo.

 The latter got the head coaching job in 2016 for possessing many of the same characteristics as Reese: He had learned at Tom Coughlin’s knee, had a solid resume and was a good soldier. He replaced Coughlin when the then 69-year-old resigned.

“Twelve years is a long time to be a head coach in the NFL,” co-owner John Mara told reporters on Jan. 5, 2016. “It’s just time. It’s just time. I think he realized it more so than anybody else.”

  No, he didn’t.

“Hey, do I agree with the move? Of course not,’’ Coughlin told the media later that year. “It hurts. It hurts. ‘Former’ is not a good word. I don’t like the word, but that’s the way it is.”

  “It’s just time.” That’s a corporate speak for parting ways with an older employee, even one that’s won those two Vince Lombardi Trophies. It’s really called ageism, one of the most blatant and underpublicized forms of discrimination active in our country.

  This came to mind –after one Giants receiver after another was lost for part or all of the season – as I was trying to understand why the Giants have this dark cloud over the team’s Timex Performance Center in East Rutherford.

Apparently, the Football Gods have been woke.

All those images of an exasperated Coughlin on the sidelines, his arms on his hips, head cocked, looking utterly exasperated after a bad play were creating an ugly narrative. Suddenly Coughlin was too old school.

He was a disciplinarian. He wasn’t a player’s coach. It was time, said Mara.

The World Health Organization said ageism presents a prevalent and insidious problem in America.

Media outlets are much more salaciously interested in reporting on the 25-year-old that claims she was discriminated against because of her cup size than the 65-year-old that claims he overheard an interviewer say he was a great candidate but ‘too old.’’ Both deserve to be heard equally.

There wasn’t much criticism of the Giants when they made it clear Coughlin’s time was up. A majority of Giants fans probably agreed because fans want to win. Now. Everywhere.

Yet isn’t it an odd coincidence that since Coughlin ‘resigned,’ the Giants have spiraled into embarrassment? The team he joined as executive vice president, the Jacksonville Jaguars, have assembled one of the league’s most talented rosters.

Do you know how desperately the Jaguars, Buffalo Bills or Minnesota Vikings or any other NFL franchise that has never experienced the euphoria of getting fitted for Super Bowl rings desires just one title? Just one!

The Giants seem further away from a title than they have since the cloud of the 70’s. Odell Beckham Jr. was traded to the Browns, which will be remembered as one of the worst deals in sports history if Daniel Jones doesn’t emerge as an elite quarterback.

 Sterling Shepard broke his thumb on the first day of camp. Corey Coleman tore is ACL. Rookie Darius Slayton tweaked his hamstring on Day 2. Brittan Golden suffered a groin injury. And Golden Tate, the big offseason acquisition signed to compensate for the loss of Beckham, was suspended for the first four games for violating the NFL’s performance enhancing drug rules.

“It feels like there is a dark cloud over our room right now,” Slayton told reporters.

Wonder why.

A Historically Bad Week Ups the Ante for a Yankees Deal

Robbins Nest

09/21/12 Oakland Athletics vs New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium Bronx NY neil mille nysportsextra :yanks lead 1-0 after 4 innings New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia (52) returns to the dugout after the 8th inning

By Lenn Robbins

Admit it: You didn’t think it could get any worse. But it did.

You didn’t think it would be historically bad. But it is.

You can’t imagine the Yankees blowing a double-digit games lead in the American League East but suddenly the 8.5-game advantage over the Tampa Rays and the 9-game bulge over the Red Sox doesn’t feel like the Pinstripers are playing with house money.

When we last wrote about the Yankees, we said they could possibly win the battle against the Twins – which they did – but would probably lose the playoff war if they didn’t get a quality starter before the July 31st trade deadline.

Since then we’ve seen the Yankees win the final game of the three-game set in Minneapolis, 10-7, despite starter J.A. Happ getting shelled for six earned runs and two home runs in just three and one-thirds inning of work.

They arrived in Boston where we haven’t seen flames like this since tea was burned. The Yankees 19-3 loss to the Red Sox was the most lopsided defeat in the 117-year history of the two teams.

The Sox tied a major league record with eight players driving in at least two runs.

The starting pitching fiasco sadly picked up where it left off Friday night. James Paxton somehow managed to strike out nine in four innings while allowing seven earned runs. If that didn’t scare you, consider this.

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Yankees manager Aaron Boone thought Paxton had ‘electric’ stuff. The only person in North America who might agree with that is Mookie Betts, who hit three runs off of Paxton in a 10-5 Red Sox win.

The last quality start for the Yankees came more than a week ago when Happ allowed two runs in five innings. In other words, the Yankees would be eliminated from the playoffs if they have another week like this in October.

The Yankees have given up 64 runs over the last six games, an infamous record for the franchise. Historic.

05/10/16 Kansas City Royals Vs N.Y.Yankees at Yankee Stadium Bronx N.Y. New York Yankees lead 5-3 after 4 innings New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka #19 pitches in the 3rd innning photos by nysportsextra

The starters – Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, CC Sabathia, Domingo German and J.A. Happ – have posted a 15.61 ERA in 27²/₃ innings, surrendering 54 hits and issuing 13 walks.

General manager Brian Cashman told reporters before his big off-season acquisition, Paxton, gave a up four home runs in four innings Saturday night that he would not be forced into a bad trade.

Fair enough but one can only hope some of it is trade-week bluster. Cashman knows he’s working in a city that demands championships more than it appreciates prudence.

Unfortunately for Cashman and the Yankees, actions speak louder than words. This pitching bloodletting has forced the Yankees to go a roster comprised of 14 pitchers and two bench players – Austin Romine and Gio Urshela.

With Gary Sanchez (groin) on the injured list for the foreseeable future, Romine must stay healthy. The teams in sell mode that have quality know this. They can press for a better package and the Yankees probably will have to give more than then they might have a week ago.

Not a bad trade but a necessary one.

“It’s obviously been a rough week for us,’’ Boone told reporters after the most recent loss. “All we can do is dive in and do the best we can and try to tighten things up and get things corrected.’’

A rough week: You never thought the Yankees pitching could have a week this tough.

ANOTHER RING DEATH – Argentine boxer Hugo Alfredo “Dinamita” Santillan, 23, became the second boxer in a week to die from injuries suffered in the ring. Santillan fought to a 10-round draw Thursday night with Uruguayan fighter Eduardo Javier Abreu.

Santillan started bleeding from the nose in the fourth round. After the decision was announced his legs gave out. He suffered three heart attacks before he died of a blood clot in the brain.

Russian boxer Maxim Dadashev, 28, died Tuesday.  He too suffered brain damage during his Friday night fight against Subriel Matias of Puerto Rico.  Have to ask if boxers are getting appropriate care during fights.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Giants quarterback Eli Manning responding to a GQ article in which former receiver Odell Beckham Jr. claimed he was the marquee draw that kept securing prime time television slots for Big Blue.

“I won a few games before he was here,’’ said Manning, the understated assassin.

Pirates at Mets 07/26/19

all photos nysportsextra/neil miller copyright 2019