Mets hard luck continues by Neil Miller nysportsextra

07/24/19 San Diego Padres vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny #34 noah syndergaard pitches in the 3rd inning

This was a game that ,once again, was hard for Mets fans to watch.Noah Syndergaard pitched fairly well, but was betrayed by shoddy fielding and not enough clutch hitting.

07/24/19 San Diego Padres vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny #22 dominic smith is upset as he returns to the mets dugout agter the 3rd innning

Much was published about Dom Smith poor fielding tonite, and for certain, the two error he committed didnt help the Mets cause, but neither didnt Mike Conforto’s strike out with bases loaded as well.

07/24/19 San Diego Padres vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny #30 mike conforto rects after striking out with the bases loaded to end an innning

The Mets team that hit so well on Tuesday night was no where to be found.

Cashman Knows Twins Exposed Yankees Pitching

10/17/17 Houston Astros vs New York Yankees at Yankee stadium bronx ny ALCS Game #4 photos by nysportsextra New York Yankees Brian Cashman Gen Manager

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

  The Yankees are possibly winning the battle against the Twins but probably will lose the playoff war if they don’t add a quality starter by the July 31 deadline.

 The Yankees and Twins split the first two game of their series in Minneapolis. The Yankees staged two thrilling comebacks Tuesday night capped by Aaron Hicks’ you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it catch to win the second game. A win Wednesday night against the Central Division leaders certainly wouldn’t hurt.

  But it won’t be nearly enough to get the Yankees to the Playoff Promised Land because the starting pitching (and at times the relief pitching) was south of dreadful. Like South Pole.

file photo nysportsextra \Neil Miller copyright 2019

C.C. Sabathia, a crafty veteran and consummate pro, showed he’s clearly playing the back nine by giving up seven runs (six earned), two walks and four home runs in five innings of an 8-6 loss.

The Twins pummeled Yankee pitching for five home runs on eight hits and three walks.

Domingo German, showed why it’s not wise to count on a rookie in the playoffs, regardless of how well his first season is going, by giving up nine runs (eight earned) two walks and three home runs in just three and two-third innings of a 14-12 win on Tuesday night.

The Twins clobbered Yankee pitching for four home runs on 15 hits and issued eight walks.

For those keeping score, that’s nine home runs, 20 runs and 11 walks in the first two games.

04/21/16 Oakland Athletics vs N.Y.Yankees at Yankee Stadium Bronx N.Y.New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino #40 pitches in the 2nd innning file photo nysportsextra/Neil Miller copyright 2019

Let’s not forget that Luis Severino, who has yet to pitch this season, certainly can’t be counted on in September and October. And German is the only pitcher with double-digit wins (12-2).

file photo nysportsextra/Neil Miller copyright 2019

Masahiro Tanaka (7-5) has been the workhorse with 117 innings pitched. J.A. Happ (8-5) has been inconsistent, pitching 110 innings but giving up 21 home runs. James Paxton (5-5), the big offseason acquisition, has had major trouble getting the first out of innings, mostly on account of issuing a team-high 35 walks.

 As this roster in comprised, the Yankees resemble the 1975 Reds, who didn’t have a pitcher with more than 15 wins but had a relentless lineup. The Yankees may not have a 15-game winner but they’re batting savages.

 Don’t think for a second that the Giants (Madison Bumgarner), Tigers (Mathew Boyd), Blue Jays (Marcus Stroman), and possibly Indians (Trevor Bauer) haven’t noted the Yankees need for starting pitching.

Cashman is not known for making panic-driven decisions. But the Yankees of 2019 have been built for one reason – win the World Series. The Red Sox went all in last year. The Yankees are all in this year. Cashman might have to throw in a chip he would have preferred to hold and he surely knows it.

He didn’t invest more than $66 million in the bull pen via free agency to win a pennant. He didn’t include top prospect Justus Sheffield in a package for Paxton to win the AL East. And he didn’t bolster an already potent lineup by acquiring Edwin Encarnacion (for pitching prospect Juan Then) to grab a Wild Card.

Whether the Yankees win or lose this series is a footnote. What happens between now and July 31st is a headline.

When A Boxer Dies All That Is Left Are Tombstone Words

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By Lenn Robbins

            There used to be a saying among sportswriters that if you can’t cover boxing, find another profession. Fast.

            Boxing offered every delicious morsel of sports reporting. The fighters often are colorful or have backgrounds that make you wonder how they’re not dead or in jail. The trainers possibly would not be allowed to work in any other industry because they’re, well, borderline nuts.

            Access to most boxers, albeit less now than it used to be as is the case with every professional and major college sport, is unique. The fighters are available during training and in the days leading up to the fight when they host an open workout. Often there is no media relations person whose job is to interrupt an interview by declaring, “Last question.”

            The weigh-ins often devolve into a shouting, pushing, macho man moments between fighters and their camps. The stare down between boxers usually is so tense the air seems to stand still.

            A writer has a chance to really learn what makes a fighter tick. The smart boxers (see: Muhammad Ali) knew how to work the media long before social media. Ali sold his looks, his skill, his personality, his political and religious views.

Until the advent of MMA, there was no sport like boxing. It appeals to the savage in all of us. Watching two warriors, blood and sweat flying off their faces; hearing the sound of body shots resonating, (see: Bernard Hopkins one-body-punch knockout of Oscar de la Hoya in the 9th round of their 2004 fight) is surreal.

One forgets that a flurry of punches is all it takes for death to invite itself into the ring.

Such was the case Friday night when junior welterweight Maxim Dadashev was pummeled by Subriel Matias at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. Dadashev’s trainer, the legendary Buddy McGirt stopped the fight before the start of the 11th round.

It was two rounds too late. Dadashev, 28, had suffered devastating brain damage. He died Tuesday morning after doctors at UM Prince George’s Hospital Center in Cheverly, Md., tried to reduce brain swelling and bleeding.

“It just makes you realize what type of sport we’re in, man,” McGirt told ESPN. “He did everything right in training — no problems, no nothing. My mind is, like, really running crazy right now. Like, what could I have done differently?”

“He seemed OK. He was ready. But it’s the sport that we’re in. It just takes one punch, man.”

Dadashev leaves behind a wife, Elizaveta Apushkina, and a son Daniel, who will be three in October. In other words, Daniel will never really know his father. Apushkina posted a photo of the family on Dadashev’s Instagram, page.

“He was a very kind person who fought until the very end,’’ Apushkina wrote in a statement. “Our son will continue be raised to be a great man like his father.”

Daniel’s father was fighting for $75,000 plus training expenses. He trained in California. His family lived in Russia. He literally was fighting for a better life. Fighting took his life.

In the wake of his death, all the responsible parties said all the appropriate words. He was a devoted father, loving husband, promising boxer. Tombstone words.

McGirt said he wanted to stop the fight in the 9th but Dadashev wouldn’t hear of it. The ringside doctor also let him keep fighting. It’s impossible to look into someone’s brain in the corner of a ring in between rounds.

The crowd roared its approval as Dadashev was pounded.

And then the fight was suddenly over and a few days later so was a life. There’s no one to blame. It’s the sport they’re in, man.

Trust me, it’s stories like this that make one think about finding another profession. Fast.

Rivera Scripted His Hall of Fame Career.

Robbins Nest

File photo Neil Miller Nysportsextra copyright 2019

By Lenn Robbins

Any fan that has ever received an autograph from Mariano Rivera has an insight into what made him the greatest closer of all time.

Rivera’s signature after signature is so precise you’d think it was produced by a rubber stamp.

The swirling upper case M and R letters are exactly the same height with an artistic flourish. The lower-case letters, again, exactly the same height with exactly the same spacing.

It’s a work of art that defines Rivera’s approach to pitching and to the execution of the greatest cut fastball anyone has ever thrown.

Statistics can be twisted and turned every which way to support or counter any argument but consider these mind-boggling numbers, courtesy of Rivera.

652 saves.

2.21 ERA.

1,173 strikeouts.

82 wins, 60 losses.

56.2 WAR.

Trevor Hoffman, the only other closer with 600 saves (601) had an ERA of 2.87, 1,133 strikeouts, a 61-75 record and a WAR of 27.9. This is not to demean Hoffman in any fashion. He set the standard that Rivera shattered.

And now he has one more number, arguably the greatest number of all to add to his stat line:

425 ballots.

Rivera was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday. He was last of six inductees to speak which is fitting. He also is the first unanimous selection into the hallowed halls in Cooperstown, his name on all 425 ballots.

“I don’t understand why I always have to be the last,” Rivera quipped during his speech. “I’ve kept saying that for the last 20 years and the last 17 years of my career. I always said, ‘Why do I have to be the last one?’ But I guess being the last one was special.”

If Rivera had not gone last, chances are the Yankees wouldn’t have won the five World Series championships he was a part of. Yes, the Yankees in Rivera’s time were a much better team than any of Hoffman’s teams.

Rivera was even better in the postseason:

42 saves.


But the stats only tell half of Rivera’s story.

 Ask anyone that every asked Rivera’s autograph and you’d be hard pressed to find a fan that didn’t get one. He didn’t care if his ball ended up in an auction or on EBay.

 Born in small fishing village in Panama, Rivera never forgot who he was and where he came from. Panama embraced him as a hero.

Panama president Laurentino Cortizo was in Cooperstown on Sunday as was legendary boxing great Roberto Duran.

Rivera spoke no English when he came to America. He couldn’t communicate with his teammates. He cried himself to sleep.

Yet teammates Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Tino Martinez were all there on Sunday, sitting together. Bernie Williams played, ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ on the guitar.

They came because Rivera asked them to come.

“I tried to carry the pinstripes the best I could,’’ said Rivera. “I think I did all right with that.’’

We Are Family? No, We Are Savages

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

  For a team that plays in The Jungle, it’s confounding that no manager or player in pinstripes had ever before claimed, “My Guys Are Savages.”

 Aaron Boone has turned out to be a terrific manager. There’s no better proof than the first half of this season when so many in pinstripes had a red cross. His players like him but after Thursday’s epic blowup with rookie umpire Brennan Miller and subsequent ejection, this is a renewing of vows.

“My guys are f**king savages in that f**king box, right?!” raged Boone.

And thus, a rallying cry for the ages was born: My Guys Are Savages!

By Friday night, Luke Voit, with a lot of help from BarStool Sports, the Yankees had ‘Savage’ T-shirts.

Sure hope that Boone trademarked his slogan because you know every factory from Vietnam to China and back are revving up their printing presses. By Saturday morning there were T-shirts ranging from $13-$28 on the web ready to be had.

“We’re gonna rock it for a while,” Voit told The Post.

The Yankees didn’t need a rallying cry this season. After losing four straight in April to drop to 5-8, the Yankees arguably have been the best team in baseball.

They showed themselves to be savages Friday night when Edwin Encarnacion blasted a grand slam in the bottom of the third to lead the Yankees to an 8-2 win over the Rockies. They are 30 games above .500 (63-33) and have the best record in baseball going into Saturday’s matinee.

But there are no guarantees that the best team in late-July is the team that will hoist the championship trophy in October. The A’s, Astros, Indians, Rays and Twins, who have been cooling while the heat is rising, are formidable foes in the AL. The Braves, Cubs, Dodgers and resurgent Nationals lurk in the NL.

Perhaps Boone’s savage slogan will push the Yankees to greater heights. Certainly, he’s upped his standing in the clubhouse and in the boardroom.

“It shows that he is one with his players,” Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner told The Post. “He is there with them and for them, step by step throughout this season. As any good leader would, and should, be. Aaron is a good leader.”

“I think he uses that term to give us confidence,” MVP candidate DJ LeMahieu told reporters. “We obviously have a good lineup, but when your manager has your back like that, it goes a long ways. … Watching it on video, I don’t think you could’ve really written it any better. I thought it was one of the coolest things.”

Also cool is that Boone called Miller to apologize for the tirade. There can be a fine line between leader and bully and Boone made certain to stay on the correct side.

Now he has the most potent lineup in baseball. He has a pitching staff that should get a boost before the July 31st trade deadline. He’s got his own T-shirt. And he’s got a rallying cry for the ages.

‘My Guys Are Savages.” It sure beats, “We Are Family.”

Nets Prove If You Rebuild It, They Will Come

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

From the school of, “If You Rebuild It They Will Come,” we give you the fascinating story of why Kevin Durant became a Net.

His signing with the Nets was a stunner but it didn’t have quite the drama as Kawhi Leonard taking on the role of wheeler/dealer power broker.

Durant’s decision was much more sublime.

With KD, there were no dictator-like demands for absolutely secrecy, although, as Nets GM Sean Marks revealed, the Nets learned of Durant’s decision along with everyone that has an Instagram account.

 Leonard took on a Supreme Leader mentality:

Any team that spoke about his free agency was eliminated from consideration. Anyone that didn’t buy into the narrative that Leonard is different kind of superstar – a calm, even-keeled basketball assassin – was be dismissed.

One social media troll once posted that Leonard, “has the personality of a pebble,” meaning his team had zero chance of signing Sir Stoic. Not that being a flatliner is a demerit.

No one can question the competitiveness Leonard displayed his one season in Toronto and previous seasons in San Antonio. Not every star needs to be the great entertainer and player.

Respect Leonard for the player he is. Respect Durant for being the keen observer of NBA culture that he is. And respect the Nets for the franchise they’ve become.

Leonard held meetings with several teams. He wanted to know about ownership, the coaching staff, the medical staff, the diversity of the franchise and city, his role and possible, where to find the best bagel in town.

Durant never even spoke to the Nets before signing.

It begged the question, ‘Why?” Why did Durant seemingly choose the Nets on a flier?

 If KD wanted a chance to win an NBA in the 2020-2021 season when he returns from a torn Achilles tendon, why not stay on the West Coast and sign with the LeBron James-led Lakers?

 If he wanted to come to the media capital of the world, why not sign with the Knicks and play in The Mecca known as The Garden?

His answer was one of the most refreshing responses uttered by a professional athlete in recent time.

“I see how hard you guys play,’’ Marks said in a WFAN interview after speaking with Durant. Surely Marks was curious as to why KD choose the Nets.

This is the rest of what Marks said Durant told him.

 “I love the system. I love how you guys play. I see how hard you guys play. … You were never out of games. We could never take you guys lightly.”

To fully appreciate those words, we need to remember where the Nets came from.

Former GM Billy King mortgaged the franchise in trading for Kevin Garnett, Paul Piece and Jason Terry. Unless he was ordered by ownership to make a headline-grabbing trade to bring fans and media to the Nets, who had moved from the witness protection state known as New Jersey, giving up three unprotected first-round draft choices was folly.

The Nets went from player-friendly coach Jason Kidd to generally unfriendly Lionel Hollins to interim Tony Brown to the completely authentic and refreshing Kenny Atkinson.

King eventually was replaced by Marks, who steadily worked to increase cap space and restock picks. It was a long haul.

The Nets, bereft of picks, were the NBA version of the Titanic. They won 69 games over three seasons. When Atkinson’s third season opened with an 8-18 record last year, many thought his tenure was over.

But Marks and Atkinson had created a harmonic, patient, thoughtful and supportive front office. They took the long view. After that start, the Nets started winning more than losing and made the playoffs.

Durant took note. Kyrie Irving took note and no doubt communicated with KD.

The Nets weren’t done putting their first-class organization on display. When Marks was asked when Durant would return from injury he said, “This is entirely going to be a Kevin Durant decision.’’

Players around the league heard.

And when the Nets didn’t have the cap space to keep a resurgent D’Angelo Russell, they helped work a sign and trade with the Warriors.

 When the next wave of free agents considers their options, they can’t help but look at a Nets franchise that plays and works with players. Brooklyn rebuilt it and the stars have come.

In Season Where So Much Has Gone Wrong, Mets Get This One Right

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

If we’re being honest, I’ve got more than a bit of “old school” in me.

One-on-one basketball is unwatchable. Excessive celebrating after a goal is irritating. Failing to run out a grounder or pop up, Lord, that makes the blood run hot.

Thanks to the Mets, there was a sense of, what – appreciation, vindication, celebration – when the club benched Amed Rosario for turning a double into a single by not running out a pop to the outfield. The ball dropped between outfielders and the loafing Rosario was on first when a hustling Rosario should have been on second.

And the Mets, arguable the feel-worst story in baseball, gave us a reason to feel good.

They took a stand. They sent a message. They benched Rosario for most of Sunday’s 6-2 win over the Marlins.

Yes, the Mets, who have gotten almost everything wrong, got it right.

“I think that some of that stuff that we do internally needs to stay with us, but I think Rosie knows some of the reasons why he didn’t play today,” manager Mickey Callaway told SNY.

 “And more than anything I want to see [Adeiny Hechavarria] out there. I want to get Hech going, he’s been swinging the bat well, all the other stuff is stuff that needs to be done sometimes.”

Stuff is not always stuff, and surely Callaway knows this.

 Managers and coaches have to walk a fine line these days when disciplining an athlete. Punishment considered too harsh can alienate a players. A lack of discipline can start a corrosive process that eats away at a franchise’s foundation.

“[Rosario] does a heck of a job, he always hustles,” Callaway told reporters. “The one time he didn’t, the ball drops and he should have been on second base. That is a learning lesson for him. But this guy works every single day and he’s made strides in every single part of his game. I’m happy with Rosie.”

The one argument with that statement is this: No athlete wearing a professional team’s uniform should need a lesson in hustling. That’s what Little League, Pop Warner, etc., is for.

“I think I got caught up in the emotion of popping out,” Rosario said. “It wasn’t the best decision to make.”

OK. Callaway gets it. Rosario gets it. Here’s the next challenge, not just for the Mets but every pro franchise: Do you dare discipline a star for not hustling?

 There wasn’t a ton of risk in sitting Rosario. He earns $575,500. But the last time the Mets played the Marlins in Florida, Robinson Cano failed to run hard on several plays. There was no discipline. Cano earns $24 million.

Maybe this is too ‘old school’ thinking but wouldn’t it be impressive if any franchise sat a star that hadn’t hustled?