July 1 marked a day of revolution in collegiate athletics. For the first time, NCAA student-athletes weren’t bound by the inability to receive benefits related to their name, image, and likeness. They’re still not getting paid by the schools they represent, but they can get paid by pretty much anyone else, and that is a great thing for the athletes and the fans that want to see them compensated.
I don’t see a downside right now except for college athletes maybe getting a little too powerful and auctioning off their transfer portal rights to the highest-bidding sponsor. But even that just makes the transfer portal more like free agency in pro sports, so is there that much harm? I think it’s much more exciting that athletes might have an incentive to stay in school instead of bolting for the pro ranks as soon as they possibly can.
That’s not a huge deal in football, where players can’t enter the NFL Draft until they’re three years removed from high school, but basketball could see a whole lot more players staying in school rather than take their chances in the NBA Draft, where only 60 players are selected each year. Just think of all the attention Zion Williamson generated when he was a freshman at Duke. How much can that kind of stardom be monetized? I’m not saying that top NBA prospects like Williamson will opt out of the draft, but there are plenty of hoops stars that aren’t big pro prospects that stand to make a lot of money off of NIL.
The Mets had a chance to reestablish dominance over the Braves on Thursday night. Atlanta destroyed New York on Wednesday in a 20-2 drubbing that started with a two-run home run by Pete Alonso and ended with 20 straight Atlanta runs and Albert Almora Jr. on the mound for the Mets. Thursday was supposed to be different with Jacob deGrom starting the game and putting an end to the rut that had New York losing three out of four games.
In a way, Thursday was a return to normalcy. deGrom struck out 14 Atlanta batters, including three victimizations of Freddie Freeman and eight in a row at one point. However, a rough first inning allowed the Braves to take an early 3-1 lead that they maintained until the ninth.
Ehire Adrianza led off with a ground-ball triple that barley escaped Pete Alonso’s reach and rolled into the right field corner. Jeff McNeil’s relay throw beat Adrianza to third, but Luis Guillorme whiffed on the tag. Ozzie Albies would single to drive in Adrianza, but the major damage was done when Austin Riley hit a laser beam home run off a 100-mph deGrom fastball.
The Mets’ feeble offense couldn’t get much going against Atlanta starter Ian Anderson, but Dominic Smith homered off him in the seventh and then against off of Will Smith in the ninth to tie the score. It was great to see Smith, who is one of many Mets to see their power disappear in 2021, mash a couple of taters when New York desperately needed them. Now we just need Jeff McNeil, Francisco Lindor, and Michael Conforto — you know, the whole top of the order — to get going and the offense will be all set.
After getting blown out by the Atlanta Braves 20-2 last night, here’s a list of teams in the National League East with a better run differential than the New York Mets.
Washington (+2), Atlanta (+14), and Miami (+21)
Woof. The Mets have now allowed two more runs than they’ve scored in 2021. While that’s not the most accurate measure of a team’s worth (Albert Almora Jr. gave up three of the 20 runs on Wednesday and he’s still a better pitcher than hitters this season), it’s also not a great sign that New York has what it takes to hold off its rivals and finish first in the division.
Atlanta is the East’s three-time defending champion with two of the best hitters in the world. They have been lurking all season and you figure they have to make a run at some point. Hopefully last night’s outburst wasn’t a sign of things to come, but the Braves have the talent to score lots of runs.
It happened to me again today. A Yankees fan asked me why I wasn’t ecstatic to be a Mets fan when my team was in first place. Uh… maybe because there’s more talent on the injured list than on the field and the team just dropped two of three in Miami before coming home and getting shut down by something called Austin Gomber in a 3-2 loss to the Rockies.
To be fair, Gomber was coming off of back-to-back solid starts against San Diego, but it was still a tough look for the Mets to drop one to the Rockies since they came in with a 2-17 road record and an offense that didn’t perform away from Coors Field. David Peterson was serving up the home run ball, though. Ryan McMahon and Elias Diaz both hit solo home runs in the second inning. In the fourth, Garrett Hampson tripled off the wall in center field to drive in the last run Colorado would need.
Mets center fielder Johneshwy Fargas crashed into the outfield wall and injured his shoulder on that play, leading to the despondent reaction from Francisco Lindor. It’s another injury for a Mets team whose fans are still coping with see Cameron Maybin in the lineup every day.
We’re one game into the NBA Playoffs for the New York Knicks and the MSG faithful did NOT go home happy, but it did feel good to have that do-or-die feeling back the veins of the fans and in the atmosphere of the World’s Most Famous Arena. Plus, we already found our new Reggie Miller.
It’s safe to say that Trae Young thrives off being hated by Knicks fans just like Miller did. In his playoff debut, the Oklahoma product went 11-for-23 from the field with 32 points, including the game-winning floater with one second remaining, as well as 10 assists and just two turnovers. Even when the Knicks knew he was taking the shot, they couldn’t contain him, as he skated right around Frank Ntilikina and Taj Gibson on that final possession to give Atlanta the 107-105 Game 1 victory. Young is going to be a PROBLEM, as the kids say.
The Knicks did pretty well considering how badly Young outplayed Julius Randle. New York’s superstar scored just 15 points on 6-for-23 shooting. He did clutch up for a big three-point shot late, but for the most part it was up to Alec Burks and Derrick Rose to carry the offense on Sunday night. If Randle steps up and the Knicks find a way to make life a little harder for Young, New York will have revenge in Game 2. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until Wednesday for that revenge thanks to the NBA’s revenue-maximizing playoff schedule.
The Mets started backup players in the five through nine spots in the order and used only relief pitchers on the mound Tuesday night, but they still came away with a 4-3 victory over Atlanta, their second in a row. What a win. The Braves got a solid performance from rookie southpaw Tucker Davidson and came from behind to overcome a 3-1 deficit, but the Mets refused to go away and they pulled ahead for good on Tomas Nido’s ninth-inning solo shot off of Will Smith.
Momentum was headed in the wrong direction after Marcell Ozuna dunked a two-out RBI single into right field during the bottom of the eighth, but Nido’s blast reversed all of that and allowed Edwin Diaz to close the door with three straight outs in the ninth. The Braves could have scored more in the eighth, but Francisco Lindor made a terrific defensive play on a ground ball by Freddie Freeman into the shift after the first two Braves reached base.
With the shift taking the force at second off the table, Lindor had to tag the speedy Ronald Acuna and still throw over to first to get the double play. Given the situation, it was the best play he’s made for the Mets so far on offense or defense.
The Mets beat the Braves 3-1 last night in Atlanta. What did it cost? In the words of Thanos, “Kevin Pillar’s nose.” The surprisingly useful outfielder took a fastball from Atlanta reliever Jacob Webb directly to the face in the top of the seventh inning. That resulted in Pillar’s nose being bloodied, but also a run for the Mets because the bases were loaded when it happened.
Even better is that Pillar is apparently okay despite suffering multiple nasal fractures. Hopefully he recovers quickly because the Mets’ outfield now consists of Johneshwy Fargas and Khalil Lee, both of whom made their big league debuts last night, as well as Dominic Smith. That’s it.
Pillar wasn’t even the only new injury for the Mets, though. Taijuan Walker left the game after just three innings due to an issue with his left side. Fortunately, the MRI came back clean, but he could still miss a turn in the rotation, which would put even more stress on New York’s bullpen. Sean Reid-Foley was the hero of the game for the Mets, as he came into the game on short notice and threw three perfect innings with five strikeouts to keep Atlanta at bay until the Mets finally broke through in the seventh.
Nido led off the frame with a double and then was doubled home by James McCann, who pinch-hit for Reid-Foley. That’s not exactly where you plan for the offense to come from, but the Mets will need to continue getting production from surprising places with all the backups in the lineup these days.
After the Nets won their game against the Bulls on Saturday night, Kyrie Irving took the podium and talked about how even with the NBA Playoffs fast approaching, he just wasn’t very focused on basketball right now. The reason? There’s just too much going on in the world right now! I only pay attention to sports and video games and nothing else, so I don’t know what he could be talking about, but this is certainly alarming to the handful of Nets fans that exist.
I would just love to see what the reaction to Irving’s comments would be if he played for an organization with fans in a time and place that allowed for full arenas. Can you imagine? The playoffs on the horizon and his team is one of the favorites to win it all. James Harden’s legacy is on the line, and this goof is more worried about what’s going on in the Middle East (I just Googled and apparently there’s some serious stuff going down in the Middle East right now).
We all know that whatever is happening in the Middle East is way more important than the NBA on a global scale, but Irving has a job to do just like everyone who isn’t being paid by the government to stay at home right now. You worry about your job first. You worry about your family first. That’s how it should be, and Irving has a bunch of guys on the Nets who would really like for him to be focused on basketball right now.
Oof. This past weekend was a rough one for the Mets. Not only did they get swept by Tampa Bay, but they lost Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto to the injured list with hamstring injuries. Brandon Nimmo continues to miss time with a finger injury, which means the active outfield consists of Dominic Smith and Kevin Pillar along with recent call-ups Khalil Lee and Johneshwy Fargas. That’s not ideal, even though Pillar has hit pretty well this month.
The good news is that everyone else in the National League East is also struggling, leaving the Mets in first place with four fewer losses than anyone else in the division despite a -10 run differential.
7-3 in the last 10 games is still good even if the run started with seven wins, right? Either way, the Mets have a chance to put some more distance between themselves and their rivals with their six-game road trip to Atlanta and Miami that starts tonight against the Braves.
That lineup is… something. The Mets will need the top of the lineup to carry the offense, so it would be a great time for Francisco Lindor to finally start playing like a superstar. The $341 million man is back below the Mendoza Line after going 1-for-12 over the weekend with six strikeouts. At least the one hit was a home run…
Frank the Tank was more impressed by DJ Kitty than by Lindor’s solo shot. That turned out to be the proper response, as the Mets’ bullpen let up six runs in the bottom of the eighth on Saturday to turn a close 6-5 game into a 12-5 blowout. That Lindor home run was rendered meaningless while DJ Kitty continues to be awesome.
In one of the craziest regular season sequences since Wilmer Flores went from getting reportedly traded to hitting a walk-off home run in the middle of a pennant race, the Mets overcame a 4-0 deficit on Friday night to defeat the Diamondbacks 5-4 and move their record to 14-13. Even when you factor in that the game-winning ground ball was hit by third-string catcher Patrick Mazeika, who wasn’t on the roster three days ago, that doesn’t explain in the slightest how wild this Friday night was.
You see, between the top and bottom of the seventh inning, SOMETHING happened in the Mets’ clubhouse tunnel that caused rampant speculation on social media and in the press box. In the only video available of the incident, we see Michael Conforto look into the tunnel, and then run inside followed by Dominic Smith, Jonathan Villar, and eventually a bunch of other Mets.
It could have been anything, but Twitter immediately decided that Jeff McNeil and Francisco Lindor had a knock-down, drag-out brawl that probably involved steel chairs and a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire. The proof? In the top of the seventh, the two infielders, playing next to each other in the shift, got crossed up on a ground ball that resulted in Nick Ahmed reaching on an infield single.