Tag Archives: New York

The Early Trials of Ben McAdoo

by Brendan Ripley-Barasch

It is widely known that players and coaches of New York’s professional sports teams are subject to scrutiny that might not exist for smaller market clubs. If he wasn’t aware of this before, Ben McAdoo, Head Coach of the New York Giants, now certainly understands the magnitude of operating in the epicenter of professional sports.

As the Giants near the midway point of the NFL season, they sport a record of 4-3 which falls a bit short of the hefty expectations that were placed on them heading into the year. This team, which missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year in 2015, underwent a massive and expensive rebuild in the off-season. The Giants handed out over $200 million in free agency in an attempt to revamp an atrocious defense that plagued them last year and then followed suit in the 2016 NFL Draft when they selected cornerback Eli Apple with the 10th overall pick. However, the changes didn’t just come in terms of players but also with coaching. Following the disappointing 2015 season, two-time Super Bowl winning Head Coach, Tom Coughlin, decided to step down, leading to the eventual promotion of Ben McAdoo from Offensive Coordinator to Head Coach for the first time in his career. Obviously there were going to be a few growing pains stemming from the changes  made, but no one could have predicted the problems that would surround the Giants in the first few weeks of the 2016 season. To expect a rookie Head Coach to handle these problems with ease would be an unreasonable assumption.

Odell Beckham Jr., who has shined in his first two seasons with New York, has been a topic of discussion among the media so far this year. While the Giants were able to get off to a 2-0 start to begin the season, disappointment ensued when they relinquished a late lead to the NFC East rival Washington Redskins in a 29-27 loss. Beckham had the camera turned on him for the most part of the game due to the highly anticipated match up between him and CB Josh Norman. Beckham was able to have a very productive day, catching seven passes for a combined 121 yards and drawing multiple penalties. While he was able to do well on the field, what he did off of it was a different story. Following a stalled possession, Beckham took out his frustration on the sideline when he struck a kicking net that responded by bouncing back and hitting the receiver in the face. This humorous highlight was then played on loop in the following week while reporters discussed the player’s struggles to handle his emotions. In their next game against the Vikings, Odell once again had the spotlight on him when he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct on a day where nothing went his way. Following these outbursts, Odell released a statement where he was quoted as saying, “I’m not having fun anymore,” when talking about playing football.

Odell seemed to have changed his ways in the next couple weeks where he manged to keep his emotions in check and make fun of his altercation with the kicking net on multiple occasions. But in a game against the Baltimore Ravens, after scoring a game winning touchdown to cap off a career day which included a staggering 222 yards receiving, he cost his team when he removed his helmet on the field leading to an unsportsmanlike penalty. These sideline tantrums have turned into an unnecessary distraction for a team with playoff aspirations and have also put Beckham’s teammates and coaches in a bad spot. McAdoo and the rest of the Giants’ players have voiced their support for the player but emphasized that these kinds of actions will not be tolerated anymore.

The other big dilemma that McAdoo has had to deal with in his first year as Head Coach involved Giants’ kicker, Josh Brown, who was accused of abusing his wife. After the team signed Brown to a two-year $4 million extension in April, the player was suspended for the first game of the season stemming from an investigation conducted by the NFL into his arrest in May of 2015. Although he was never charged in the matter, Brown certainly broke the NFL’s domestic violence policy but somehow only received a one game suspension. This minor penalty does not demonstrate what Commissioner Roger Goodell has stated would be the base-line punishment for any player involved in domestic violence. After the Ray Rice fiasco in 2014, Goodell announced that anyone involved in these kind of cases would receive a minimum six game suspension. But rather than focusing on how the league failed to uphold this policy, New York media looked at McAdoo as having mishandled the entire ordeal and questioned why a player like this was able to stay on the roster.

Things changed when new documents were released last week by the King County Sheriff Office that showed Brown admitting that he had abused his wife, Molly Brown, on multiple occasions. This caused the NFL to re-open their investigation into the case and the New York Giants organization did what they should have done in the first place when they officially cut Brown.

Following the release of Josh Brown, Giants President and Chief Executive Officer, John Mara, admitted that him and the rest of the team’s executives’ actions in accordance to the situation were “misguided.”  He stated that the information that was made available to them never showed any irrefutable evidence that Brown had been guilty of committing this crime but after the release of these new documents they concluded that it was time to part ways with the player.

With all of this said, is it reasonable to place the blame on Ben McAdoo for not handling this situation properly? No, but that is the reality of being in charge of a professional team in the biggest market in sports. As previously stated, the team was never given all the information about Brown’s case and when they finally were, they cut the player. Sadly, even though they did the right thing, they will still be criticized for not doing it soon enough.

Being a rookie Head Coach in the NFL is obviously no simple task, but add in the fact that that McAdoo has had to deal with a variety of sensitive issues while also considering the ferocious nature of NY media, it is almost impossible to operate under the radar. For now it seems like this issues have been put in the past, OBJ is well aware of the fact that he simply cannot continue to act the way he has been and Josh Brown is officially not the Giants responsibility anymore. Although, this doesn’t mean McAdoo can relax yet. He still has the duty of putting a competitive team on the field every Sunday, he has to figure out how to incorporate new formations and plays into an offense that has been exposed as being one-dimensional, and overall he has to be a leader for a team that is currently missing one. So far in 2016, the NFC East has shown it might be the best division in all of football and now that these problems seem to be in the past, the New York Giants can finally just focus on winning games.

 

 

 

 

 

Gary Sanchez: New York’s Next Superstar

by Brendan Ripley-Barasch

The New York Yankees had by far the most interesting season in all the MLB this year. To sum it up, their year had three parts. The first part ranged from opening day until the All-Star break, where fans saw a continuation of the previous season with their team showing flashes of greatness only followed by long periods of disappointment. Sporting an everyday lineup filled with injury prone veteran players, fans had to hope t00at these men would play above their potential every game in the very tough AL East. But to their disappointment, we watched as Alex Rodriguez, Brian McCann, and Mark Teixeira struggled mightily and went through lengthy absences due to injury. When the All-Star break finally arrived, the Yankees sported a .500 record of 44-44, this is where the second part began.

Following the break, the Yankees ended July going 8-8 and capped it off by getting swept by the dreadful Tampa Bay Rays. This generated a lot of chatter about what New York would do at the trade deadline, either stay course and hope the team could rebound and make a push for the playoffs, or cut their losses and sell some of their top players to build for the future. General Manager Brian Cashman chose option number two and at the deadline agreed to multiple trades which resulted in Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran, and Ivan Nova being shipped to different teams. The pool of players that New York brought in return were highlighted by highly touted prospects Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres among many others. To go along with these trades, the Yanks also decided to part ways with Alex Rodriguez when they cut him on August 13th and thanks to the pressure he was feeling from the fans, Mark Teixeira announced he would retire after the season.

With all of this said, the Yankees now had a totally revamped major league roster to go along with a much improved minor league system. Part three occurs when NY called up their top prospects Gary Sánchez, Aaron Judge, and Tyler Austin. Each player helped spark the team and allowed them to realistically contend for the post season. But as everyone is well aware, Gary Sánchez was the heart and soul in the last two months of the season.

On August 3rd Gary Sánchez was officially moved up to the big leagues and while many knew of the incredible skill set this young man had, no one could have predicted he would go on the tear he did. After making all the trades they did, New York was seen by many as officially entering the rebuilding stage, they were trying to get these young players at-bats and playing time so when the 2017 season rolled around they would at least have some level of experience. But to baseball viewer’s amazement, Sánchez played historically good and not just because he was a rookie. In two months, Sánchez was able to break multiple rookie records, was the main reason his team even sniffed the playoffs, and somehow put himself in contention with Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer to win AL Rookie of the Year. In just 53 games, Sanchez’s slash line was .299/.376/.657 to go along with an incredible 20 home runs and 43 RBI, those stats are nothing short of amazing.

Image result for gary sanchez                                                                                                 Image via nypost.com

Ever since two of the Yankees all-time legends, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter, retired, New York has been dying for their next superstar. After spending millions of dollars on big names like Jacoby Ellsbury and Masahiro Tanaka, it’s only right the next star would work himself up through the team’s system. The buzz and hype that Sánchez generated from his play is ver similar to what Jeremy Lin did to the city when he came to the Knicks, not just the city of New York was in a state of shock and utter disbelief but as was the entire nation. In an article titled Gary Sánchez has impressed the baseball world written by Erik Boland, there is a quote from an opposing AL team executive describing his view of Sánchez, he says, “I’m buying. I don’t think it’s a fluke. That’s a stupid pace he was on, but . . . with that swing, he should be a 30-home run guy, I would think.” This just adds to the point of how in just two short months, Sánchez has already won over many people in the league thanks to his consistent high level of play.

During the 53 games he played at the major league level, it is impossible to find just how many articles were published about this player or how many times he was mentioned in broadcasts because simply everyone in the sports world wanted to talk about Gary Sánchez. He could have done what he did on any team in the league and would still be receiving a crazy amount of attention, but the fact that he did this in New York City, the center of the sports world, only added to the hype.

It is hard to wrap your mind around the fact that in such a short time Sánchez has already put himself in the center of the Yankees plans for years to come, looking to him as the player they need to build around. Even though his club still missed the playoffs, his efforts helped shift the view of the team from being in a state of rebuilding, to being one that should contend in 2017. Obviously in sports it is impossible to predict if a player can continue to have such an incredible level of play but when discussing Sánchez, how can you doubt him anymore? His tenure with New York this year was filled with many claiming it was beginners luck but night after night he kept producing. No adjustment could be made to slow him down and now fans are eager for next year to see the numbers he will put up. The 2016 New York Yankees season will simply go down as the year Gary Sanchez emerged.

The Price of Success

by Brendan Ripley-Barasch

NFL free agency opened on March 9th at 4 p.m. and there were a number of teams ready to give out money to the top players on the market. The three teams with most cap space at the start of free agency were the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Oakland Raiders, and the New York Giants. This post is looking at the New York Giants and their record-setting free agent spending spree and whether it was worth it.

On the first day of free agency the Giants signed three top defensive players. This past season New York was absolutely awful on the defensive side of the ball and with $56 million to spend in free agency, fans were hoping and expecting their team to address this issue. They certainly did that by signing Janoris Jenkins, Damon Harrison and Oliver Vernon. The Giants started  by signing former Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins to a five-year deal worth $62.5M with $28.8M guaranteed. The team opted to let their current starting corner, Prince Amukamara walk away. This decision was made simply because they believed Jenkins was a better option moving forward, but is it worth making him the second highest paid corner in the league? It remains to be seen if this investment will pay off in the long run but they certainly seem committed to Jenkins for the future.

The New York Giants second signing of the day was for former Jets DT Damon “Snacks” Harrison. The deal was worth $46.25M with $24M guaranteed, in my opinion this was a great signing for the team because what organization in their right mind wouldn’t want a 350 pound brick wall in the middle of the D-line?

The biggest signing of the day for New York and the rest of the league came when the Giants locked up former Dolphins DE Olivier Vernon. This lucrative deal was for five years and worth $85M with $52.5M guaranteed. Many saw this deal and quickly stated that the team overspent for this player. With the salary cap at a record amount, overspending is necessary when trying to fix a team quickly. An article from The Washington Post titled The Giants’ wild free-agent spending spree. History suggests it won’t pay off discusses why the Giants were giving out these insane contracts. The article has a quote from former Browns General Manager Phil Savage, he says, “They were very porous on defense. There was not a single difference-maker who could close out a game with a sack or an interception or a pass breakup. When you get the green light, this is what you see done.” This quote supports New York’s strategy and shows that a knowledgeable NFL mind agrees with what they are doing.

Jerry Reese, General Manager of the New York Giants was on the hot seat this past offseason with fans calling for his head. He was ultimately kept on board, Giants management showed they trusted him moving on. Reese certainly operated free agency like a man set on keeping his job. With the salary cap ballooning to $155.27 million and having $56 million to spend, the time was certainly right to splurge. In an article titled Giants free agency 2016: What others are saying about massive spending spree, writer Ed Valentine talks about Reese and the way he operated free agency this offseason. In the article, Valentine writes, “Reese rushed at free agency the way Lawrence Taylor rushed the quarterback, and recorded the most important sack of his career at a time when he was put on notice by his bosses.” A comparison between Jerry Reese and Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor is certainly and odd one but in this case it works perfectly.

Another notable signing came when the team re-signed DE Jason Pierre-Paul. The deal was for one year and worth $10.5M with $8.5M guaranteed.

The Giants may have overspent a bit in this free agency period but desperate times call for desperate measures, and when the past four years have been filled with nothing but dread it was certainly warranted. Only time can tell if these deals will be worth it but the Giants certainly improved their roster, defense in particular. The 2016 NFL Draft is still on the horizon and with the 10th overall pick, New York can further improve their team. Giants fans can only hope that with these signings their team will succeed in years to come and not end up like teams in the past who also gave out loads of money like the Eagles in 2011 when they assembled the self-proclaimed “dream team.”

 

Porzingis: Is the hype real?

by Brendan Ripley-Barasch

In the weeks leading up to the NBA draft lottery, Phil Jackson, the president of basketball operations for the New York Knicks, kept a close eye on the three best prospects. He attended Kentucky’s practice to see Karl-Anthony Towns, then stopped by at Madison Square Garden for a St. Johns-Duke game to scout Jahlil Okafor, and attended the Ohio State-Nebraska game to observe D’Angelo Russell. With a record of 17-65, the New York Knicks had a great chance at landing the number one overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft. Unfortunately the ping-pong balls did not fall their way, first pick went to the Minnesota Timberwolves, second went to the Los Angeles Lakers, and third went to the Philadelphia 76ers. How is that possible? How did the Knicks drop out of the top three? Finally at number four the New York Knicks name was called. Phil Jackson and Knicks fans alike were disappointed with landing the number four spot but still had hope that one of the top three prospects could fall to four.

Fast forward to the NBA draft, the solid depth of the draft opposed to recent years gave NY fans hope they could still find a superstar at the fourth pick. The draft begins with the Timberwolves predictably taking Karl-Anthony Towns. Next, the Lakers take D’Angelo Russell, and that was a bit crushing to fans and of course Phil Jackson because he was very public about how highly he thought of him, “He’s a great-looking kid,” said Jackson. Then the crushing blow to Knicks fans was when the 76ers selected Jahlil Okafor. The top three were gone, who is Phil going to pick? “With the fourth pick in 2015 NBA draft, The New York Knicks select Kristaps Porzingis,” announced commissioner Adam Silver. The arena filled with boos and the camera even caught a young Knicks’ fan crying. Everyone was baffled at the pick because no one even knew who this guy was.

Leading up to the season teammates and coaches were raving about Porzingis and his incredible athletic ability, but NY fans were not convinced, they had to see it with their own eyes. In the regular season opener against the Milwaukee Bucks, Porzingis dropped sixteen points including a three, grabbed five rebounds, and had a block. Now fans were paying attention, the 7-3 power forward had made a great first impression with the city of New York. This was the first of many great performances which led to Porzingis being named rookie of the month in November. The highlights of the first month  with a twenty-nine point and eleven rebound game against Charlotte and a game against Houston where he had twenty-four points, fourteen rebounds, and seven blocks.

After his insane first month, Kristaps Porzingis had become a sensation in New York. Much like the short-lived Linsanity that swept through Knicks fans, they were honoring Porzingis like a god, even with some giving him the nickname “Porzingod” or “Godzingis”. Night after night he made spectacular plays, most notably his put-back dunks over players and his use of the post move we know as the “Dream Shake.”  Everyone knows how New York media can hype something up, and that was exactly what was happening to Porzingis. First they booed him and ridiculed Phil Jackson for picking him and now all of a sudden they were praising him and foresee him as the savior for the New York Knicks. Number six jerseys were flying off the shelves, he was a fan favorite and his goofy personality made him a favorite of the press as well.

Now the media focuses on Porzingis more than they focus on the former superstar and savior, Carmelo Anthony. Remember that kid who cried when the Knicks drafted Porzingis? Yeah, they met and the kid ended up getting an autograph and apologizing. It is rare to find a story about the Knicks that doesn’t mention Porzingis now.

But is the hype about him real? I think so. After collecting his third consecutive Rookie of the Month award, helping the Knicks surpass their entire win total of last year before the All-star break, drawing raves about him from superstars such as Tim Duncan and Kevin Durant, and posting a line of 14 points/7.7 rebounds/1.9 blocks. It is fair to say that this is not the same case as with Jeremy Lin where the media got overly excited and talked about him being a future superstar and face of the franchise after one month and then he ended up falling off the NBA radar for a while. Porzingis has continued to display consistency, maturity, and improvement over the NBA season and may have the highest upside out of any rookie with his size, athletic ability, and basketball IQ. Although he’s not an All-star and might not even be the Rookie of the Year thanks to the stellar season that Towns is having, New York has found a player to build around for the future with Carmelo Anthony for sure.