5 Things the Yankees Can Do to Turn Things Around

By Thomas Albano

This weekend, I got to experience my first live baseball game at Yankee Stadium (the one opened in 2009; I went to the old one a few times). As a New York Yankees fan, it brought me great joy and memorable moments from exploring the Yankees Museum, to observing Monument Park, and from running into a good friend to seeing an Aaron Judge home run.

The only thing that could have made it better was if the Yankees had won.

yankee-stadium.jpg

And the Yankees right now are colder than those leftovers you’ve got in your fridge. They have lost 10 of their last 12, they have lost sole possession of their first place standing in the AL East, and they are dealing with a few bad injuries to key players (most recently outfielder Aaron Hicks).

I said, along with others, that the 2017 season was going to be one where the Yanks weren’t going to win too much; however, it would all just be to help give the younger players experience. But now with how hot the Yankees had been, it felt like this season has the potential to be an amazing one. Right now, however, it feels like all a tease — just like the end of 2016 all over again.

But, fear not, Yankees fans. The Yankees can rebound and still be great, especially if they do these five things:

1. Get Rid of Headley and Clippard
Headley’s quality as a third baseman has definitely gone hill since his quality season with the Padres in 2012. While there are players in MLB that have worse than a .245 AVG, Headley has an OBP of just .335, and his WAR is only 0.4.

I’d suggest moving Didi Gregorious or Starlin Castro over to third and then find a way to get Gleyber Torres up to the bigs. But now that Torres is done until Spring Training, that’s out the window. So, hopefully Ronald Torreyes can help righten the ship (especially since Headley is out with an epidural)? If this doesn’t work, or heaven forbid Torreyes goes to the DL as well, then how much longer before the calls to promote Tyler Wade come

And since I was there on Saturday, I might as well say it. GOOD GOD, Clippard. Just like I said to you indirectly when I was doing fantasy baseball two years ago, it’s time for you to get lost.

Clippard has compiled an ERA of 4.85 so far this year, with his relief efforts earning him a win and four losses. While relief pitchers don’t get credit for wins and losses often, Clippard’s WAR is just -0.1. A pitcher who usually just pitches an inning per appearance, he has given up 12 hits and 12 earned runs (including four home runs) within the month of June. For a MRP/SU man, the Yankees can clearly do much better.

2. Get a starter
Credit where it’s due. The Yankees have sometimes had great starts. The keyword here is sometimes. But with Michael Pineda struggling, Masahiro Tanaka having an awful season, and C.C. Sabathia out with injury (thanks, Chris Carter…) it’s time to give the younger pitchers a break.

C.C.

Before the trade deadline, the Yanks need to make a move for a quality starter. I had previously thought perhaps Gerrit Cole, but the Pittsburgh Pirates reportedly have no interet in trading him. Ervin Santana? Alex Cobb? Maybe Chris Archer? I know it could be a stretch for a couple of guys with that kind of talent, but it wouldn’t hurt to try. Point is: the Yanks need another starting arm. The unfortunate price…?

3. Depart with talent?
Sometimes, we have to make sacrifices to the baseball gods to get to the great gold. And while the Yankees have a bunch of great, young talent waiting in the wings, if it comes down to the dire scenario, maybe some of them have to go.

It’s a problem — a good one, but a problem — with the situation the Yankees have. They have too much talent in one area (outfield): Clint Frazier, Blake Rutherford, Dustin Fowler, etc. And although you’d like all the young blood and talent in the world, sometimes sacrifices need to happen.

Frazier

You could also depart with Brett Gardner, even though he’s batting .262 this season. That could be more of a contract dump, and hey, if the price is right, someone will give him up for something. There are teams who probably could use a good-hitting veteran outfielder.

And what could you get in return? Well, maybe…

4. Hosmer and/or Moustakas
Oh, tell me you wouldn’t want that. It’s clear the Yankees have a problem at the corner infield slots. One first baseman is injured and Chris Carter is (thank God) gone. Meanwhile, I don’t want Headley over at third anymore, but Torres’ injury is a blow (especially with Headley not able to play himself). And if you’re going to make a big move, a potential preview for your next one or two off-seasons, go for some true talent.

Besides, the Royals might be willing to depart with a couple of stars. What a fall they have had since winning the World Series.

5. A Utility guy
Keeping on the theme of depth at the corner infield slots needed, or heck maybe just the entire infield already, it’d be good to have someone to fill whatever hole the team needs filled. Austin Romine plays catcher and first base, and Tyler Austin plays first base and outfield, which is good, but it’d be better to have someone who can play all over the infield, too. Think: what if Austin goes down? Then, Romine plays first but you better have some sort of backup, or else Sanchez plays every day.

Torreyes

I remember there being a plan that after Gregorious came back from injury, Torreyes would be someone to use whenever the likes of Castro, Headley or Gregorious needed a day off. Maybe that plan can finally come to fruition?

 

 

Bellator NYC Predictions

Tomorrow night marks the date of Bellator NYC, Bellator MMA’s first pay-per-view attempt since the disastrous Bellator 120 event in 2014. It also marks the promotion’s debut event in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Will it be any good? Well, it’s Bellator, so who knows.

But let’s get into my predictions.

Quick Predictions:
– Chael Sonnen def. Wanderlei Silva via bored-crowd-displeasing split decision
– Matt Mitrione def. Fedor Emelianenko via second-round KO/TKO
– Lightweight Champion Michael Chandler def. Brent Primus via second-round KO/TKO to retain.
– Lorenz Larkin def. Welterweight Champion Douglas Lima via unanimous decision to win the title.
– Aaron Pico def. Zach Freeman via first-round KO/TKO
– Ryan Bader def. Light Heavyweight Champion Phil Davis via third-round KO to win the title.
– James Gallagher def. Chinzo Machida via unanimous decision
– Neiman Gracie def. Dave Marfone via second-round submission
– Heather Hardy def. Alice Yauger via first-round KO/TKO
– Ryan Couture def. Haim Gozali via first-round KO/TKO

Thoughts:
Silva vs. Sonnen: I’m going to echo the words of Bloody Elbow‘s Mookie Alexander here: “There is utterly no way to properly analyze this fight.” You have one guy who is famous for running his mouth and failing to get the job done, who has lost four of five and just had his first bout in about four years earlier this year. And then you have another guy who will be having his official MMA bout in four years, and even then has lost eight of his last 12 bouts. But, it’s a grudge bout.

I’m just going to say here that if Sonnen doesn’t get the win here, the bout he’s requested for a long time, maybe it’s time to hang ’em up for good. But, my OFFICIAL prediction is that either it will be a boring fight ending in decision or a quick KO/TKO, and the crowd will boo either way. This three-round bout is main eventing over title fights, because…Bellator.

Fedor vs. Mitrione: My mind wants to say Fedor, because Fedor is the legend of MMA. And it’d suck for me to place my vote against a former New York Giant and Minnesota Viking. But, quite a bit of the MMA community fears for Fedor in that Father Time is right on his heels. And while he and Mitrione haven’t fought in about the same amount of time, Mitrione still has the speed that Fedor doesn’t have. If Mitrione can keep it standing, he can certainly overwhelm the Russian phenom. But if gets to the ground, good night Irene (or, Matt, in this case).

Chandler vs. Primus: Primus is definitely on a roll, but I’m not sure if he’s ready for the title just yet. That said, however, Chandler has struggled against someone similar to Primus — Will Brooks. I’ll go with Chandler for now, but if these two meet for the strap again, don’t be surprised if Primus learns from mistakes and takes the title.

Lima vs. Larkin: This is expected to be the Fight of the Night. Two equally good combatants. Larkin coming over from the UFC, who did not re-sign Larkin despite winning ways, and Douglas Lima, a two-time Bellator welterweight tournament winner and champion. Now, I’m not a fan of guys getting title shots their first night in an MMA promotion. But at the same time, Larkin, even with just five welterweights bouts under his belt, has competed against some of the best. Meanwhile, Lima’s track record shows some struggle when the lights go up and the game is on with the title on the line. #AndNew

Pico vs. Freeman: This is like an exhibition of sorts. Pico is very talented. Prodigy? We’ll have to wait and see. But, he better impress. If he can’t in his first bout, or worse, he loses, then all that hype goes to nothing for Bellator.

Davis vs. Bader: Bader needs to keep the fight standing and go for the KO. Otherwise, it’ll end up being a boring fight that’s completely on the ground with Davis retaining. I’m praying it’s the former. Even then, Bader beat Davis the first time, back in the UFC. I’m feeling same old song and dance here. #AndNew

The Unspoken Podcast Ep. 24

If you missed episode 24 of The Unspoken Podcast when it was live this afternoon, check it out here!

Today, Tom and Nick Fodera are joined by Nick Morgasen, president of The Undetermined Podcast Network. They talk the NBA Draft and NBA Free Agency. After Nick M. departs, Tom and Nick F. talk today’s Rangers-Coyotes trade (before the Coyotes-Blackhawks trade was announced), the Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft, the NHL Draft and the struggling New York Yankees. Check it out now!

McGregor vs. Mayweather – FINALLY

By Thomas Albano

So, after months of chatter, months of negotiations and months of anticipation, it will finally happen.

UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor and boxing icon Floyd Mayweather will be having a boxing match on Aug. 26 in Las Vegas. It’s a pay-per-view bout that is certain, with all the hype, build-up and star power, to rake in millions upon millions of dollars.

Mayweather is undefeated inside the squared-circle at 49-0, retiring in September 2015. Mayweather has won 15 world titles and is a five-division world champion.

McGregor is 21-3 in MMA, and he is the only man in the UFC to have ever held two divisions’ titles at the same time (and only one of three to ever hold two different division titles at all). But, McGregor has never had a professional boxing bout.

A lot of people doubted this fight would ever happen, but you know what? It got done…somehow. So, here we are.

Did the UFC want this fight to happen? Probably not. Is the UFC’s reputation damaged if they lose? I don’t think so.

Boxing and MMA are two different sports. The science surrounding boxing and the science surrounding MMA are different. In boxing, you don’t have to worry about kicks, getting taken down to the ground and submissions. But, of course, in boxing you have the bigger gloves.

Now, we can talk more in-depth about how both sports can stand on their own because boxing can still have some exciting bouts (see Anthony Joshua vs. Wladimir Klitschko) and some MMA bouts can bore you to tears (see Kimbo Slice vs. Dada 3000).

Plus, MMA already has a victory over boxing. In 2010, former boxing champion James Toney faced UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture at a UFC bout. With no ground experience, it went TERRIBLY for Toney. He easily got taken down, and he was defeated in about four minutes.

In fact, I’d argue if Mayweather was facing McGregor in an MMA bout, McGregor would wreck him up badly. But, it’s not. McGregor will not be allowed to kick, grab or takedown Mayweather. Of course, normal boxing clinches are fine.

But, Mayweather is still the clear favorite. How clear? Well, Forbes reports Mayweather as a -1100 favorite, while McGregor is a +700 underdog.

Many people have speculated outcomes, and the top three are the following: McGregor gets KO’d or TKO’d, Mayweather dances around the ring en route to a decision win, or Mayweather dances around the ring and causes McGregor to snap and perform MMA moves en route to a DQ.

While I can see all three happening, especially that third, I’m hoping for the sake of everyone who buys this event, that we see something special in the bout. It’s special enough considering the crossover sport nature of this bout, but I’m hoping we can really see some good competition.

McGregor is really training hard for this bout. So, who knows? Maybe we can see something shocking and McGregor can pull off a win.

And if McGregor does win, does that cement his status as one of the best athletes in the game? Maybe, but I just wish he could defend his title.

I won’t lie, I’m kind of rooting for McGregor considering he’s the more entertaining athlete in my opinion, and he backs his talk up in his action. Plus, as some of you can probably tell, I’m not a fan of Mayweather’s strategy of just doing the bare minimum and then avoiding contact to get the decision.

If McGregor puts on a good showing, and he defends his UFC title, then I will say he can be in the argument of greatest general athlete in the world, not just MMA, today.

Until then, I’m anticipating what this fight will bring.

WWE…Great Balls of Fire?

By Thomas Albano

UPDATE (6/16/17, 11 p.m.): The WWE has put their video trailer for Great Balls of Fire on private. No word yet as to why this has happened, though it could possibly be so they can change the logo to the most recent version (seen above).

The WWE will be holding its next mega event this coming Sunday night, a Smackdown production called Money In The Bank. As for its Raw brand, the next event comes on July 9 for an event whose names has caused speechless shock and outrage across it’s fans — WWE Great Balls of Fire.

Great Balls of Fire original

I wish I was kidding, but that is the name. Here’s the teaser trailer for it.

I have been a WWE fan for almost my whole life — I am 22 for the record. And this name has to be the most out of left field thing I’ve ever seen the WWE pull off. Why name this show after a Jerry Lee Lewis song?

This event, to be broadcast on the WWE Network, was originally planned to be called Bad Blood — a throwback to a pay-per-view event name the WWE used in 1997, 2003 and 2004.

I mean, it could be worse, they could’ve stuck with Bad Blood and then used that Taylor Swift song. God, I would be pissed if they had done that.

But then, they came up with this idea. I have two theories to how this name came about — either Vince was listening to this song in the office and demanded this event be named as such, or the WWE writers wanted to see if they could get away with using this name.

To some WWE fans, both those theories could be plausible. But what’s funny is that they almost didn’t.

As told by WWE Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler recently, representatives of Lewis tried to sue WWE for using the name without taking it up with Lewis first. Lewis has had a trademark on the term “Great Balls of Fire” since he first sang the song back in the 1950s.

When WWE recently advertised a match for the event on the WWE Network program Talking Smack, they had a different song over it. So, I thought maybe WWE had lost the rights. But, maybe they can only use the song in certain instances.

Anyways, so, goodness gracious, WWE. Great Balls of Fire better be something. I mean, they’re bringing Brock Lesnar in to defend the Universal Championship for the first time, so they’re TRYING, right?

Also, that trailer from the start of this piece looks awesome; I do have to admit I like the 1950s throwback feeling.

But, they have had several logos for this event. Why? Well, let’s see if something catches your eye (Note: the logo from right before the video was just used for the arena when tickets first went on sale).

Great Balls of Fire 1Great Balls of Fire altGreat Balls of Fire newest

Watch this somehow not be a bomb, but be an amazing event. Either way it goes, I can see it happening.

Strickland Struck a Nerve in Me

By Thomas Albano

Well, we all know the story by now. Back on Memorial Day, Hunter Strickland nailed Bryce Harper with a pitch, the two had a scuffle and it turned into a bench-clearing brawl. Both men got suspended, Buster Posey ate criticism for not backing Strickland up or protecting him, and the baseball world spent time debating if Harper or Strickland was more at fault.

Both were suspended four games — Harper already appealed his suspension and it was reduced to three games. Strickland’s appeal of his suspension will be heard tomorrow, June 13.

But if I were to have it my way, Strickland would not only lose his appeal, he’d be suspended for more games.

Strickland hit Harper out of revenge. During the 2014 postseason, Harper took Strickland deep twice. Yes, I said 2014 — not just three seasons ago, but a year when the Giants went on to win the World Series. Strickland got his revenge already by winning a ring! This bean balling was absolutely unnecessary.

And on a side note, can we stop giving Posey crap for not standing up for Strickland and helping him out against Harper? Posey wanted nothing to do with this whole matter, including the brawl, but Strickland went ahead with everything anyways.

Going back to Strickland and his suspension, I know it’s not possible to increase the number of suspended games with an appeal, but, darn it, I feel like there could be a case made here.

During one of the Yankees games he was covering after the announcement of the suspensions, commentator Ken Singleton criticized the decision to ban Strickland and Harper the same amount of games. His point was that one (Harper) is an everyday player and an all-star, while the other is a relief pitcher who doesn’t necessarily play every game.

And Singleton is right; this makes Harper seem more like the bad guy. I get Harper’s got the attitude and people hate his guts (not me though!) But Harper isn’t the one who threw the pitch, Harper isn’t the one who has a World Series ring after that 2014 postseason, and, most importantly, Harper isn’t the one who carried an approximately three-year grudge.

Strickland comes into a game about once or twice a week, and considering he’s the root of this mess, why not a 10-game or 15-game suspension? I feel that should’ve been more appropriate given those circumstances.

And if the MLB wants to reduce big brawls, and show Posey was in the right by not interjecting himself in the matter, how about the MLB follow the NHL’s policy of a third man entering a fight? That is, an ejection, a hefty fine, and a suspension. And in this matter, plus MLB’s lengthy season, I think that could be a major 20-game suspension.

In this case, don’t hate the game, hate the player. If Strickland gets his suspension reduced tomorrow, that’s utter, disgusting, expired bologna.

2017 MLB Draft Preview

By Thomas Albano

All things begin somewhere. For some future MLB stars, that beginning starts in just a short time.

With the 2017 MLB Draft starting in just hours, it’s time to have a look at some of the big prospects that could be picked. There have been rumors swirling about who the Minnesota Twins will take first overall, and it is likely down to three choices — high-schooler Hunter Greene, collegiate pitcher Kyle Wright and collegiate two-way player Brendan McKay.

Brendan McKay

Brendan McKay (LHP & 1B/Louisville/Junior)

Starting off our look into some of the best draft choices out there is probably the best collegiate player in the nation, Brendan McKay. McKay is the 2017 ACC Player of the Year and 2017 Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year.

McKay was selected by the San Diego Padres right out of high school during the 34th round of the 2014 MLB Draft, but McKay chose to play college ball at Louisville. Safe to say a stellar choice.

Over the last three seasons, McKay has batted .328 with 213 hits, 27 of them home runs, and 131 RBIs. Like Greene, he is also a two-way player, having just as much success on the mound. In his career at Louisville, he has an ERA of just 2.15, with 31 wins and an OBA of just .191. His success has earned him the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year for the past two seasons.

Last summer, McKay played a big part for the USA Collegiate National Team, hitting .326 plus a 2-1 pitching record with a 1.35 ERA and 10 strikeouts.

While researching for the draft, I was blown away by the numbers McKay put up this year. Combine that with a lot more speculation than confirmed information from several MLB clubs about the upcoming draft, and you’ve got a real toss-up among McKay, Wright and Greene.

And With the Twins’ farm system ranked No. 15 entering the 2017 season, a bit of a drop from their last two years, someone like McKay may be something that refurbishes the minor-league affiliates.

Considering McKay’s huge success as a two-way player, and his readiness to be on hand with whatever is needed by a team (plus I feel like I want to go in a different direction than the usual Wright or Greene as the No. 1 pick), my choice for the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft is Brendan McKay.

Hunter Greene

Hunter Greene (RHP & INF/Notre Dame (SO) High School/Sherman Oaks, California):

Even if Greene is not the No. 1 draft pick, I believe he could be taken with the No. 2 pick by the Cincinnati Reds. Certainly helps their farm system, which came into 2017 ranked only a spot ahead of Minnesota.

Greene has to have one of the best and most smokin’ bats in high schools across the nation. As of today, Greene’s high school career batting average is at .337, with 72 RBIs and 13 home runs. Last year, Greene managed to bat over .400, just missing that mark in his sophomore season with a .390. While he isn’t near that kind of average this season, he has made up for it in production with 28 RBIs and six home runs.

But it’s not just on the mound where he is good, he excels at pitching as well. Just look at how much he has dominated opposing batters. A high-school career ERA of 1.62, OBA of .183 and OBP of .262.

No matter where this kid goes, if a team wants him to be a big-time hitter, it can go right on ahead. But even if the team wants him to be a pitcher, I’m sure he has the ability to become a very good starter, setup man or closer.

Kyle Wright

Kyle Wright (RHP/Vanderbilt/Junior)

Wright has shown the right amount of excellence needed for a No. 1 draft selection (yes, I’m one of those bad pun people). Over his last three years playing for Vanderbilt, Wright has a 2.60 ERA with a WHIP of just 1.10, a K/BB ratio of 3.40 and 19 wins (13 of them as a full-time starter).

During his time, he has earned several SEC Pitcher of the Week honors. He was named first team All-SEC this season, named second team All-SEC in 2016 and named to the freshman All-SEC team in 2015.

With all the hype around Wright, if he misses out on the first two picks, I don’t see why the Padres can’t take advantage and grab him.

MacKenzie Gore

MacKenzie Gore (LHP/Whiteville H.S./Whiteville, North Carolina)

While he isn’t in my top three, MacKenzie Gore is definitely a dark horse. And you never know, one franchise might just pull it off and pick him.

Gore shows a lot of potential as a pitcher, with a fastball that can top 94 MPH and a noted, slick breaking ball. Unfortunately, with Gore, there are some mechanics issues that have some scouts worried he could risk injury.

Could that hurt Gore’s chance? Perhaps, but I feel any player has a risk of injury. So, why not take the chance?

The only thing I have noted is that he does have a commitment to East Carolina, so he might not sign even if drafted. But, that’s Gore’s choice, and if he does that, it may just pay off for him like it did for McKay.

Logan Warmoth

Logan Warmoth (SS/North Carolina/Junior)
Here’s my choice for someone who I think deserves a little more love than he might get. Warmoth was only projected by minorleagueball.com to be a second or third-round selection back in January, but his numbers this season with the Tar Heels have led some to believe he has the potential to be a first-round choice. At least, I think so.

This season, Warmoth batted .336 for his college, with an OPS of .958, 10 home runs and 49 RBIs. Prior to the 2017 collegiate baseball season, Warmoth played in the Cape Cod League and batted .270/.330/.450 in 100 at-bats.

I think he can be a late first-round pick; however, I can even see him being taken mid-first. A top-five second round pick is my absolute latest for this kid. If he gets passed that, I think that’s quite the mistake.

A Quick Welcome

By Thomas Albano

Welcome everyone to Cheap Seats Sports, where we look to give you the latest in sports news, and hopefully give you new prospectives on matters going around in the world.

My name is Thomas Albano, and I’m the founder of the website. For more information about me, please see my profile in the Staff page. And for more on this site, see the About section.

If you want to write for this site, please use the contact form to send a message to my email (tomalbano1@gmail.com).

But, I know you don’t want me talking all day, so let’s get right into things, shall we…?