Bombers’ Run: A Weekly Guide to the 2018 New York Yankees (Week 9)

By Nick Fodera

Week 9 Record: 3-3

Season Record: 33-16

Week at a Glance:
– Houston Astros at Yankees (3 Games)
– Yankees at Baltimore Orioles (3 games)

Recap it!: It was bound to happen sometime. No, I don’t mean paying taxes, losing your virginity or getting into an argument with a parrot. I mean the Yankees losing a series for the first time in over a month. That’s exactly what happened, as the Yankees lost 2 out of 3 to the Texas Rangers at Arlington Stadium. It’s an absolutely infuriating turn of events, considering that aside from Cole Hamels doing Cole Hamels things, the Texas Rangers are essentially the AL West’s equivalent to beige wallpaper, languishing in a mélange of below-.500 mediocrity in a division that is essentially a two-horse race between the Astros and Mariners. Say it with me, fellow readers: UGHHHHH! The Yankees were able to take 2 out of 3 from the Angels in the Bronx, which is a good thing considering that the holes in the rotation and staring lineup are starting to show up. To wit:

  • The bad Sonny Gray showed up Saturday night, and he was ready to party like it was 1989, getting tattooed again for 5 runs in a game the Yankees lost 11-4. The game was fun from the other perspective, as Mike Trout went 5-for-5 with 4 RBIs. Good for you, Fishboy. CC Sabathia was no better earlier in the week, getting staked 10 runs, only to flush it down the commode with the help of the Yankees bullpen.
  • Parts of the Bombers’ offense continues to produce, with rookie second baseman Gleyber Torres showing tremendous power, bashing five home runs and nine RBIs over the last seven games. That’s good, considering Didi Gregorius is in a showmanship-level slump, who headed into the series with Texas with just one hit in 42 at-bats. He hasn’t done any better over the last 7 games, hitting to a .103 average. Giancarlo Stanton continued his frankly-heroic strikeout pace, going 0-for-4 Sunday afternoon. Of course, it isn’t time to push the panic button as of yet, though its shininess is tempting to my chimp brain. You may think a rest for Didi is in order, but that won’t happen, because:
  • Backup infielder/travel-sized hit machine Ronald Torreyes was optioned to Triple-A on Saturday to make room for returning first baseman Greg Bird on the 25-man roster. Man alive, Cashman. Show some heart. Never mind the fact that he is beloved in the Yankees clubhouse. Never mind that he always contributes on the days that he plays. It just seems spectacularly cruel to send him. What’s next? Drowning a sack full of cats? Tying John Sterling to railroad tracks and leaving him there?

Look Out For: What do we have in store for Astros/Yankees, round 2? Will Ken Giles kick himself in the face this time?

Hey, That’s New!: Hey, Greg Bird is back! Quick, somebody wrap him up in bubble wrap before he hurts himself existing.

Rant of the Week: There’s no more sidestepping the issue. If the Yankees want to compete, they need better starting pitching. The fact that no starter on this staff that isn’t named Luis Severino has been able to consistently pitch at least seven innings is not only hilariously bad in the short term, it’s going to cost them in the long term. Who do they think they are? The Mets? At this pace, it won’t be long before the bullpen fatigues in noticeable ways, blowing leads left and right. Call me crazy if you must but having Chasen Shreve and Chad Green ride in on white horses every time Sonny Gray is painting a Jackson Pollack with his pitch control seems like a bad idea.

Meme/GIF of the Week: Bombers Run 9 Meme

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Bombers’ Run: A Weekly Guide to the 2018 New York Yankees (Week 8)

By Nick Fodera 

Week 8 Record: 2-1 (Two games postponed)

Season Record: 30-13

Week at a Glance:
– Yankees at Texas Rangers (3 games)
– Los Angeles Angels at Yankees (3 games

Recap it!: I’m starting to think Mother Nature hates us baseball fans. Not a vague, general dislike, but a raw, seething hatred — the kind they build John Wick movies around. That’s really the only explanation I can conjure as to why we’ve had so many rainouts this far into the baseball season. Yes, indeed, the cruel moist mistress hath struck again, suspending one game of the Nats/Yankees series and completely washing away both it and the regularly-scheduled match the next day. Therefore, there’s only the Royals/Yankees series to talk about for this week’s edition of Bombers’ Run. It’s both implausibly ridiculous and funny in a weird way — like getting stabbed in the eye by an angry leprechaun during a particularly testy game of canasta. Nevertheless, let’s dive on in:

  • The starting pitching for the Yankees against the Royals was remarkably consistent, save for CC Sabathia getting victimized by two errors from second baseman Gleyber Torres, which lead to two unearned runs in a 5-2 loss on Friday. Luis Severino didn’t have his best stuff but was able to pitch six innings and give up only three earned runs en route to an 8-3 Yankees victory the next day. Finally, Sonny Gray was superb to close the series out, hurling an eight-inning, one-run gem to support a 10-1 bashing of the sub-.500 Royals. Yeah, yeah. I know it’s the Royals, but hey, every little bit helps. Besides, I think he may have heard what I’ve been saying about him in this series and is pitching lights out to make me eat my words. It wouldn’t be the first time I do so, and I can assure you it won’t be the last. I’m a semi-columnist, for corn’s sake. I make an Olympic event out of being wrong about everything. Maybe I should get into talk radio.
  • It looks like the Yankees answered my question in last week’s column about being able to score a bajillion runs off of Royals pitching in the resoundingly affirmative. The Yankees blasted a total of nine home runs in the series, including an inside-the-park job from centerfielder Aaron Hicks on Saturday. Did I miss something, or did Hicks turn into Willie Mays Hayes when I had my back turned? Torres made up for Friday’s shoddy defense with a tiebreaking three-run jack of his own. Giancarlo Stanton added a moonshot, both Tyler Austin and Gary Sanchez had two home runs each in this series, and even Austin Romine joined in on the fun. These guys can hit, is what I’m saying.

Look Out For: Will Greg Bird make his return sometime this week? Will the Angels be able to enact a measure of revenge against the Yankees in the Bronx? Will there be more rainouts?

Hey, That’s New!: Hey look, it’s Clint Frazier! I can’t wait to see wha- * Cue loudspeaker* WE REGRET TO INFORM THE READERSHIP THAT CLINT FRAZIER HAS BEEN OPTIONED TO TRIPLE-A SCRANTON WILKES-BARRE. THAT IS ALL.

Rant of the Week: Not to repeat myself, but seriously, MLB needs to invest money into some kind of translucent dome technology so rainouts can be a thing of the past. We’ve now lost four games this year to weather, and it’s getting absurd and dangerous, like a fist fight with a clown over a bottle of Remy Martin. The Yankees had to spend Wednesday night in the terminal at Dulles Airport in D.C. due to rain, plane engine issues, and booked hotels. I’m pretty sure I just described two-thirds of the setup to Die Hard 2, but with less John Amos and more grinding misery. The only thing worse than that would have been if the team had to spend the night in a dumpster in downtown Hoboken, New Jersey. Actually, that might be an upgrade.

Meme/GIF of the Week: Curse you, bad weather!

(Courtesy of Frinkiac.com)

Bombers’ Run: A Weekly Guide to the 2018 New York Yankees (Week 7)

By Nick Fodera

Week 7 Record: 4-2

Season Record: 28-12

Week at a Glance:
– Yankees at Washington Nationals (2 games)
– Yankees at Kansas City Royals (3 games)

Recap it!: Well, it wasn’t going to last anyway. The Yankees’ eight-game winning streak came to a close last Thursday with a loss to the Boston Red Sox, but they managed to win two out of three in both series with the Bosox and Oakland Athletics. This team continues to chug along, winning 20 of their last 23 games, despite attempting to lose a few of them (Oh, we’ll get to that).

  • The starting rotation has floundered somewhat over the last few games, with the bad version of Sonny Gray showing up again, getting tattooed for five runs on nine hits over five innings pitched in an infuriating 10-5 loss to the A’s on Friday. This is the point where I remind you that the A’s are below .500. Domingo German ran out of gas the very next day, giving up six runs over five in a game the Yanks won on a walkoff. CC Sabathia surrendered four runs in four innings pitched during the streak-breaking loss to the Red Sox on Thursday.
  • But none of that matters, because the offense is starting to click in unexpected ways. I had the pleasure of attending the Saturday afternoon game and watched the Yankees crawl back from a four-run deficit to beat the A’s 7-6 in 11 innings. The decisive blow was struck off the bat of first baseman and designated generic white guy Neil Walker. Yup, you heard right. Neil Walker came through in the clutch. If you’d told me a week ago that Barney runs a Vegas brothel, or that Ronald McDonald is a meth kingpin, I’d have an easier time believing that than Neil Walker delivering a walk-off win. Still, I’m not inclined to argue with results. Good on you, generic white guy.
  • The Yankees bullpen continued its’ Jekyll-and-Hyde act throughout the week, with Dellin Betances serving up back-breaking home runs in one game, then mowing people down in another. Aroldis Chapman walked the bases loaded in the ninth on Saturday before wriggling out of trouble thanks to a clutch tag on A’s right fielder Matt Olson by Gary Sanchez on a relay throw by Brett Gardner, turning what could have been a sac fly into a double play. Olson was initially called safe, but upon replay review, the call was overturned. Hey, the Mensa members finally got one right! Still, the bullpen remains consistently inconsistent, and needs the return of Tommy Kahnle and Adam Warren from the disabled list badly.

Look Out For: What will happen when the Yanks go up against Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez in Washington? Will the Yankees score a bajillion runs off a horrid Royals team?

Hey, That’s New!: A.J. Cole, who I had no idea was on this team until I saw him run out of the bullpen Saturday afternoon, pitched two scoreless innings against the A’s, striking out four. Holy underwear! Not bad for a guy who hadn’t pitched since April 23. Tune in next week, folks. We may find out that the soda vendor in Section 17 can hit a curveball 500 feet.

Rant of the Week: We need to curb stomp the notion that the Yankees most important relievers (David Robertson, Chad Green, Betances and Chapman) can be stretched out into multi-inning pitchers. This is not going to work. Full. Stop. These guys have been groomed for their entire career to be inning specialists, sometimes working on a batter-to-batter basis. Now, Yankees Manager Aaron Boone wants to use conventional wisdom and common sense as toilet paper and start mentally retraining veterans to do what they’re totally unprepared for? Ugh. Just stop it, man. Don’t be surprised when these guys start coughing up runs wholesale, Boonie.

Meme/GIF of the Week: 

Bombers’ Run: A Weekly Guide to the 2018 New York Yankees (Week 6)

By Nick Fodera

Week 6 Record: 6-1

Season Record: 24-10

Week at a Glance:
– Red Sox at Yankees (3 games)
– Oakland Athletics at Yankees (3 games)

Recap it!: I’m going to take you, loyal readers, back to last week’s edition of Bombers’ Run. Remember how weird it was reading a column that was mostly positive? Well, gird your nethers, because the Yankees had an improbable success of a week with a 6-1 record, taking three of four from God’s perfect little band of goody-two-shoes’ — the Houston Astros — and then sucker-punching the Cleveland Indians with a three-game sweep. Even when the team shorts out in the late innings in a comical fashion (we’ll get to that), they still manage to get good breaks and win. Seriously, this is approaching David Lynch-producing Cirque du Soliel while blasted on Sudafed-levels of weird, folks. There were a lot of notable moments this week, so let’s take a look at a few of them. This week included:

  • Astros strikeout machine and over-enthused dad in a Flonase commercial Justin Verlander spent Tuesday evening pitching a masterful 8.2 shutout innings against the Yankees, racking up 14 strikeouts along the way. So why aren’t I mad? Because the Yankees won the game anyway on a go-ahead three-run jack by Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez off of Astros eminently-hittable closer Ken Giles, who then stalked off the mound and engaged in a bare-knuckle brawl with his own face. I couldn’t make that up if you paid me.
  • The Yankees bullpen shorting out in comical fashion — with Chasen Shreve, David Robertson and Aroldis Chapman doing their best to flush a six-run lead against the Indians Friday night. Despite all that, the Yanks prevailed again on Miguel Andujar’s walk-off single.
  • The Yankees bullpen nearly wasting a brilliant six-inning shutout performance on Sunday by spot-starter Domingo German, thanks to the efforts of Dellin Betances. (Dude, stop showing up here in this context!) Déjà vu abounded, as the Yankees walked off again with another three-run homer, this time by second baseman wunderkind Gleyber Torres.
  • Look, it’s way too early in the season to make any kind of concrete predictions about what this team ultimately will be, especially how pyrotechnically wrong I’ve been when predicting things on The Unspoken Podcast (*SHAMELESS PLUG COMPLETE*). It is evident, however, that this team has talent, potential, and an ability to fight back, even when it isn’t firing on all cylinders (Hi again, Giancarlo!). That’s something that will prove useful in the weeks to come. Where they go, only time will tell.

Look Out For: Red Sox/Yankees rematch! It may save everybody some precious time if they all just came out wearing boxing gloves. Don’t put it past the Baseball Tonight panel to make that joke, by the way. They never waste an opportunity to make the daddest of the dad jokes.

Hey, That’s New!: Domingo German absolutely stymied Indians hitters on Sunday, filling in for the injured Jordan Montgomery. Now I take back everything bad I said about him so far.

Rant of the Week: Psst, I think Trevor Bauer might be crazy. This week, Droney McDronehand decided to take to Twitter (Why is it always Twitter?) to accuse-without-actually-accusing the Astros pitching staff of doctoring baseballs to increase spin rate, thus bumping up pitch speed. Bauer used Astros righthander Charlie Morton as his example.

That’s a serious accusation to make, so what evidence did Mr. Chemtrails-in-my-coffee produce to back this up? Nothing. Absolutely, positively, stone-cold NOTHING!!!! Look, I’ll indulge a good baseball conspiracy theory every once in a while, in fact, I probably dislike George Brett more than I really should for precisely this very reason. But without evidence and just hearsay to go on, this has reached tinfoil hat territory. Give me evidence, and I’ll believe you, Trevor. The Astros themselves, for their part, let Bauer know how they felt about all of these accusations:

Meme/GIF of the Week: Play me off, Kenny boy! (*Courtesy of the YES Network and reddit user welchie98*)

Ken Giles Punches self

Bombers’ Run: A Weekly Guide to the 2018 New York Yankees (Week 5)

By Nick Fodera

Week 5 Record: 7-0 (!!)

Season Record: 18-9

Week at a Glance:
– Yankees at Astros (4 games)
– Indians at Yankees (3 games)

Recap it!: Well, this is a first. A Bombers’ Run column that’s mostly positive? What sorcery is this? The Yankees are on a nine-game winning streak. Yes indeed, after being the baseball equivalent of beige wallpaper for the first four weeks of the year, the Bombers are hot, hot, hot. How is this possible? Witchcraft? Sandwichcraft? Strange alchemy? Not-so-strange alchemy? Human sacrifice? Elephant Growth Hormone? Interdimensional shenanigans?

Well, in order to get your winning mojo workin’, just add Twins. A four-game sweep of the Yankees’ perennial midwestern patsies lit the touch paper, for an explosion that carried on to the Angels culminating in another series sweep, this time in Anaheim, the team’s first since July 2003. Now let’s be honest here: This doesn’t mean that my cynicism batteries are burned out (they’re overcharged), or that the Yankees will never lose again (they will). But it is nice to see that this team is capable of more than meh. This winning streak may or may not last long, but it’s fun to watch good athletes do good things.

  • The week that was included in no particular order: Two separate laughers (14-1 against the Twins, and 11-1 against the Angels), a walk-off home run by Gary Sanchez, some clutch hitting, really good starting pitching, a lockdown bullpen and good ol’ fashioned luck.
  • Shortstop Didi Gregorius continues to hit like a man possessed since he was dropped to the cleanup spot in the lineup, sporting an eye-popping 10 home runs and 30 RBIs, overall hitting .340. How he’s doing it I have no clue, but who am I to complain?
  • The rookie tandem of third baseman Miguel Andujar and second baseman Gleyber Torres are providing the lineup with more pop than an explosion at Coca-Cola headquarters (slap me if I say that again). Andujar is an extra-base hit machine as of late, leading the American League with 12 doubles. Torres is no slouch either, batting to a .360 average over the last seven games.
  • CC Sabathia seems to have found a groove, lowering his ERA to 1.71 with a gutsy six-inning performance Sunday night. Combine that with a gem by Masahiro Tanaka on Saturday in an 11-1 curb-stomping against the Angels (Uh, did someone forget to tell me that Shohei Ohtani is the ONLY reason to watch this team?) and things are sitting pretty, for now at least.

Look Out For: Now the Yankees face their toughest test yet, a four-game set with the defending World Series Champion Houston Astros (*gulp*), and the Indians after that (*sphincter clenches tight*). Buckle up, ladies and gents. It’s about to get saucy.

Hey, That’s New!: Catcher Gary Sanchez is hitting the cover off the ball as of late, with a walk-off homer on Thursday, and a 447-footer on Sunday that, to my estimation, has not landed yet.

Rant of the Week: The week wasn’t all sunshine and hugboxes, however. On Friday night, during the opening game of the Angels series, first baseman Neil Walker was robbed of at least an extra base hit by Angels outfielder Kole Calhoun, making a leaping catch to snag the ball. A fine display of leather, but where things get all wonky is the point where the umpiring crew — those geniuses at work — call Giancarlo Stanton — who was standing at second base — out because he apparently didn’t tag up properly. And therefore, what becomes one out turns into a double play, right before our very eyes, without so much as a challenge. *clears throat* Here’s the thing though, HE DID TAG UP!!!!! Most of the blame for this lies at the feet of Yankees manager (and a guy who probably has loud opinions about Kevin Costner movies) Aaron Boone, who didn’t see fit to challenge. What? Did you forget how? Were you so blinded by the majesty of Calhoun’s play that you lost all perception of space and time??!!!? The play didn’t end up hurting the Yankees in the end, BUT STILL.

Meme/GIF of the Week: Saturday night, summarized:

Top 5 Busts in NFL Draft History

By Thomas Albano

When you go fishing, sometimes you’ll catch the big one, other times you’ll reel in an old boot. The NFL Draft works the same way — except millions of dollars, publicity, players’ careers and a lot more are on the line. No pressure, everyone!

When a player gets drafted, the team’s GM has all the faith in the world the player can play their part and bring the team success, while the player hopes to achieve whatever they can — from re-building a franchise to winning the Super Bowl.

But not everything goes according to plan. With that being said, here are five of the biggest busts in NFL Draft history.

5. Charles Rogers
After a stellar career at Michigan, which saw him earn All-America honors in 2002 and comparisons to Randy Moss, Rogers was drafted second overall in the 2003 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. His 2003 and 2004 seasons both came to an end due to clavicle injuries, and he was allowed to return home after the 2004 injury — a move Matt Millen later regretted.

Rogers was suspended in 2005 for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy for a third time, forcing him to miss four games and eventually have to repay a lot of the money paid to him by the Lions. In all, Rogers played just 15 games in a Detroit uniform before being released. He failed to make any other team he tried out for, and he fell to drug, alcohol and criminal problems years following the end of his playing days.

Charles Rogers

4. Lawrence Phillips
Despite his playing ability, Phillips was already a big risk for any team, considering he found himself in trouble numerous times while playing at Nebraska. He could have been a top-five pick — maybe even a No. 1 — in terms of talent, but in the end, he was selected sixth overall in the 1996 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. The Rams believed in Phillips so much, they traded his predecessor to the Pittsburgh Steelers — that predecessor was named Jerome Bettis.

Phillips’ off-the-field troubles continued in St. Louis, as he was known to stay out in bars till 4 a.m. When he was told he’d be demoted to second-string, he stormed out of the practice facility. After multiple attempts to help him straighten his ways, Phillips was released. The Miami Dolphins ended up giving him a chance, but they released him after pleading no contest to assaulting a woman.

After a comeback stint in NFL Europe, Phillips was signed to the San Francisco 49ers. But by then, his playing ability had seriously deteriorated. Most notably, Phillips missed a tackle on Cardinals cornerback Aeneas Williams during a Monday Night Football game, and Williams would tackle Hall of Fame QB Steve Young, concuss him and end his legendary career.

After being released by the 49ers in November 1999, and failed AFL and CFL stints, Phillips was indicted on multiple assault charges in later years. And after Phillips was charged with first-degree murder for killing his cellmate — a charge in which the death penalty was being sought for — Phillips was found dead, hanging himself in his jail cell, on Jan. 12, 2016.

Lawrence Phillips

3. Tim Couch
There’s a world of expectations on the shoulders of anyone drafted first overall, let alone the first pick by an expansion team. That’s the situation Tim Couch — after a great career at Kentucky, where he earned All-America honors and was named 1998 SEC Player of the Year — found himself in. Couch was drafted No. 1 overall in the 1999 NFL Draft by the current iteration of the Cleveland Browns.

Couch could not achieve the same success he had in college. While he threw for just over 11,000 yards in his five seasons in Cleveland, he had a 64-67 TD-INT ratio and was plagued with injuries. To his credit, however, he helped Cleveland achieve a playoff spot in 2002.

After five seasons of injuries and inconsistent play, Couch was released by the organization. After a couple of failed comeback attempts, Couch was out of football, and the Browns have had a QB problem since.

Tim Couch

2. JaMarcus Russell
Russell was selected first overall in the 2007 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. But he failed to reach an initial agreement with the team, holding out in training camp until signing a six-year deal worth $68 million (with $31.5 million guaranteed). But Russell did not step onto a field until December, coming in relief of Josh McCown.

Russell was inconsistent as a starter, obtaining a 7-18 record from 2007-2009, an 18-23 TD-INT ratio and just over 4,000 passing yards with a 65.2 passer rating. Meanwhile, the No. 2 pick in the 2007 draft, Calvin Johnson, went on to great success.

Russell was released in May 2010.

JaMarcusRussell

1. Ryan Leaf
After Peyton Manning was picked first overall in the 1998 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts, Ryan Leaf seemed like a nice consolation prize for the San Diego Chargers. But Leaf’s playing career was a miserable one, throwing just two touchdowns in his rookie year while being picked off 15 times and owning a 45.3 pass completion percentage.

After missing the 1999 season due to injury, Leaf’s 2000 season was an improvement, but not by much. After being released and failing a physical with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Leaf played four games with the Dallas Cowboys in 2001 before being released. Leaf seemed on his way to playing with the Seattle Seahawks before abruptly retiring.

Leaf’s career was also plagued by behavioral problems. Leaf skipped his interview with the Colts and skipped the final day of a mandatory symposium for rookies. Leaf was known to put blame on teammates for failures and many called his work ethic into question.

Since 2010, Leaf has been in and out of trouble with drugs.

Ryan Lea

Top 5 Late-Round Selections in NFL Draft History

By Thomas Albano

When it comes to the NFL Draft, fewer people seem to care about anything that happens in the later rounds. In fact, with the first round having its own television slot on Thursday nights since 2010, it seems more and more only care for the first 32 picks. “Oh what does it matter?” they may say. “Everything from the second round on is mostly a crapshoot.”

Well, what if I told you that plenty of NFL legends weren’t drafted in the first round? What if I told you that, in fact, plenty of NFL stars were drafted late — some still playing to this very day.

With the 2018 NFL Draft upon, taking place April 26-28 from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas — home of the Dallas Cowboys — it’s time to look back in the annals of NFL Draft history. Whether you call them steals, late selections or diamonds in the rough, here are my top 5 late NFL Draft selections in history.

5. Antonio Brown

I wanted to start this list off with someone more modern, and after much thought, I have to pick Antonio Brown. Brown was selected in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, with the 195th overall pick, by the Pittsburgh Steelers. When he was drafted, a lot of people thought he would just be another depth receiver, but Brown has proven to be anything but. Since getting drafted, Brown has received six Pro Bowl selections, been named First-Team All-Pro four times and Second-Team All-Pro once. As of the end of the 2017 season, Brown has a little less than 10,000 career receiving yards on 733 total receptions with 59 receiving touchdowns and five return TDs and plenty of highlights along the way. He went from sixth-round nobody to being arguably the best receiver in football — reality or fantasy — and has such paydays that make Le’Veon Bell and Odell Beckham Jr. jealous.

Antonio Brown

4. Terrell Davis

Davis was elected to the football Hall of Fame in 2017, but no one expected him to reach such heights originally. Davis was drafted in nearly the same spot Brown was — with the 196th overall pick in the 1995 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He was not expected to even make the team, but after an impressive preseason performance, he was named the starting running back. In his seven-year playing career in Denver, which included being a member of the Super Bowl XXXII & XXXIII championship teams, he rushed for a total of 7,607 yards and 60 touchdowns. Davis led the league in rushing touchdowns and was named Offensive Player of the Year in both 1996 and 1998. In addition, Davis led the NFL in rushing yards in the 1998 season. These accomplishments earned Davis AFC Player of the Year honors in 1996 and the title of NFL MVP in 1998. He was the MVP of Super Bowl XXXIII, where he set a Super Bowl record with three touchdowns.

Terrell Davis

3. Bart Starr

The NFL Draft was quite different when Starr was selected; in fact, the entire league was. There were 30 rounds — with about 11-13 picks each round. Drafts in the 1950s usually took place in January, and Starr was picked in the 17th round (200th overall pick) by the Green Bay Packers in the 1956 draft. Starr started as a backup before splitting time for a few seasons with Babe Parilli until a man named Vince Lombardi entered the Packers scene. With Lombardi’s arrival, Starr was named starting QB, and he held that distinction until the end of his career. Starr was a key figure during the AFL-NFL battles of the 1960s and eventual merger. Starr led the Packers to five NFL championships, and he was named to the Pro Bowl four times. In addition, Starr was the MVP for the first two Super Bowls, both won by the Packers (representing the NFL against the AFL when the event was called the AFL-NFL World Championship Game). Starr was named First-Team All-Pro once and Second-Team All-Pro twice, led the NFL in passer rating five times, and he was inducted into both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Packers Hall of Fame in 1977. His No. 15 has been retired by the team.

Bart Starr

2. Deacon Jones

Selected in the 14th round (186th overall pick) of the 1961 NFL Draft, Jones never won a Super Bowl or NFL MVP. What earned Jones the praises and honors from football fans and executives everywhere was how he revolutionized the game. A defensive end, Jones was noted for his speed and tackling ability, able to get from one sideline to the other for a tackle, something completely unheard of for the time. In addition, Jones is the man who, legend has it, coined the term “sack.” Jones played for the Los Angeles Rams for 10 years, becoming a part of one of the greatest defensive lines in football history, before playing two seasons with the San Diego Chargers and one with the Washington Redskins. Jones was selected to the Pro Bowl eight times, and he was named First-Team All-Pro five times and Second-Team All-Pro thrice. The “Secretary of Defense” was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year for 1967 and 1968, selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980, and his No. 75 has been retired by the Rams.

Deacon Jones

1. Tom Brady

Let’s face it — this may be the near-unanimous choice. Most football fans know the story of how Brady was selected in the sixth round (199th pick overall) of the 2000 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. One of Brady’s reflections on being picked so late brought us the always-hilarious meme of Brady crying his eyes out on an ESPN special.

But (and I have to swallow a lot of pride here as a New York Giants fan), Brady has done things no other quarterback has done before. Brady is just one of two NFL players to play in at least five Super Bowls, and the only person to have done so for just one team. The rest of Brady’s resume is unreal — five-time Super Bowl champion, four-time Super Bowl MVP, three-time NFL MVP, 13-time Pro Bowl selection, two-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year, and a lot more.

Whether you love him or hate him, it will be quite the shakeup — the end of an era — once Brady (and Bill Belichick) chooses to step away from the game of football.

Tom Brady

Bombers’ Run: A Weekly Guide to the 2018 New York Yankees (Weeks 3-4)

By Nick Fodera

Week 3-4 Record: 6-4 (2 games postponed)

Season Record: 11-9

Week at a Glance:
– Twins at Yankees (4 games)
– Yankees at Angels (3 games)

Recap it!: It’s good to be back. After Mother Nature postponed two straight games in Detroit, (Seriously, why every stadium in the country doesn’t have a retractable roof at this point is beyond me. Humans solved this problem tens of thousands of years ago, you jerks!) the Yankees headed home for a 10-game stretch against the Marlins (you guys should be ashamed of yourselves for not sweeping) and the Blue Jays, which is where we find ourselves right now.

  • The offense has been mostly good and improving as of late, save for one laughable performance in a 9-1 drubbing against the Marlins (I will pay any amount to never have to write that sentence again). Right fielder Aaron Judge, now snug as a bug in the two-hole, is on a tear as of late, hitting .324 with six home runs and 15 RBIs. Shortstop Didi Gregorius is also hitting and hitting and hitting, sporting a zaftig .333 average with five homers and 18 RBIs. Third baseman greenhorn Miguel Andujar is sizzling like exploding pork products, with a couple of clutch extra-base hits in the recent set against Toronto. So, despite the slumping spots continuing to sag (We’ve got to stop meeting like this, Giancarlo!) there’s still noticeable pop in the Yanks’ one-through-nine.
  • We have met the enemy, and he is Gray — Sonny Gray, to be exact. Gray’s pitched to an above-8.00 ERA so far this season, and he just can’t seem to stop tripping over himself in the early goings. Despite Luis Severino doing Luis Severino things, Tanaka working out of his troubles, CC Sabathia playing the stopper and Jordan Montgomery grinding out victories, the fact that Sonny Gray looks like the second coming of A.J. Burnett (*screams internally*) so far sticks out like a big sore thumb.

Look Out For: Can the Yanks handle the surprising Twins? What will happen when they get a first look at Shohei Ohtani and the Angels (*gags*)?

Hey, That’s New!: Pushing aside The Creature That Replaced Neil Walker and banishing Tyler Wade to Triple-A (if only temporary), the Yankees have called up hotshot shortstop and number-one prospect Gleyber Torres, who promptly went 0-for-4 in his debut game Sunday. Baby steps, kiddo.

Rant of the Week: Rather than rant about the elements and how it’s cost us some fine baseball, I’d like to draw your attention to a different subject: replay, or more simply, how a room full of suits looking at screens and a gaggle of umpires can screw up a call in a near-biblical fashion. For those of you who are mercifully unaware, in the eighth inning of Sunday’s series finale against Toronto, Yankee first baseman Tyler Austin grounded into a play at short. The relay from Lourdes Gurriel appeared to pull Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak off the bag. You know what? I’m not even going to say it appeared to pull Smoak off the bag. That’s because IT PULLED HIM OFF THE BAG!!!!

 

 

But not according to umpire Ted Barrett and the Mensa members at MLB HQ, who then decided after a lengthy review that Tyler Austin was out, and that cold, hard video evidence to the contrary is for weenies and foreigners who like cricket — nevermind the fact that Smoak’s foot was somewhere in the vicinity of Jupiter in relation to first base. Nevermind the fact that even a coked-up chimp in people clothes with good visual-motor skills could have seen that Austin was safe and not even have to ask for a banana enema afterward. HE WAS SAFE!!!!!! Sweet sugar-frosted Jesus, I’m getting some serious Armando Galarraga flashbacks here. Ain’t baseball grand?

(Note from the editor: Or the following video clip of Tim Welke showing possible farsightedness — that or he assumed Todd Helton had everything under control.

Meme/GIF of the Week: So, you’re telling me he was out?

via GIPHY

Bombers’ Run: A Weekly Guide to the 2018 New York Yankees (Week 2)

By Nick Fodera

Week 1 Record: 3-3

Season Record: 5-5

Week at a Glance:
– Yankees at Red Sox (3 Games)
– Yankees at Tigers (3 Games)

Recap it!: So, yeah. At 5-5 a week into the season, it’s fair to say that the Yanks are off to a decidedly “meh” start to the season in which expectations are through the roof. Things started off easily enough, with the team dismantling the Rays with a 2-game sweep to open the home schedule (Side note: I’m convinced the only reason there’s baseball in Florida is because someone important has a crippling Astroturf-enema habit). Then the weekend series against the Orioles went screaming off a cliff, as the Yankees dropped 3 of 4. UGH…

  • Starting pitching was good for the most part, with noteworthy work from Luis Severino, who stymied the Rays offense with seven strikeouts and two earned runs over seven innings. Joining him was stablemate Sonny Gray, giving the Yankees much needed length after another bullpen claptrap (oh, we’ll get to that). The issue at play here that keeps the rotation from firing on all cylinders is of course lack of length and the longball (heh, alliteration), which CC Sabathia, Jordan Montgomery and Masahiro Tanaka all grappled with at one point or another.
  • Offense-wise, it’s quite another story, as the vaunted Yankees lineup just can’t seem to be consistent in production from the heart of the order. Catcher Gary Sanchez is ice-cold, along with Giancarlo Stanton, who is already getting assaulted by Bronx cheers after a pair of five-strikeout games, overall going 3-for-28. Now, when assessing this, I don’t want to ignore evidence presented, nor do I want this column to be a WFAN-caller-style hissy fit. But this is a problem Stanton, Hitting Coach Marcus Thames and skipper Aaron Boone need to fix right quick before it snowballs. We Yankee fans are an intransigent, hysterical, impatient bunch, but it will present REAL problems that could threaten the team as the season rolls on. I do have the patience to be confident that Stanton and company can patch the problems.
  • Where the plot thickens is the bullpen. Simply put, they’ve not been consistently good this week; they’ve sucked in crucial spots. Jonathan Holder can do nothing of the sort, serving up a go-ahead grand slam to Pedro Alvarez in the 14th inning of the April 6 game. Tommy Kahnle has struggled and Aroldis Chapman has been big-time erratic. But again, it’s still early, and things can iron out.

Look Out For: With the series in Boston up next, look for broadcasters far and wide to mention Boone’s 2003 ALCS-winning home run off of Tim Wakefield about 3,720 times. My ears are already bleeding.

Hey, That’s Unfortunate!: CC Sabathia heads to the 10-day DL (hip strain) along with Brandon Drury (migraines and blurred vision) I’m sure THIS will be fine, right? *facepalms*

Rant of the Week: Why are the Yankees terrible at baserunning lately? What was at one point a hidden strength of this team has so far been rough, with runners getting called out on baserunning gaffes and steal attempts that make them look like a drunk Larry David on roller skates. Stanton (hi, again) should have been tagged out at third on a baserunning mistake in which he overran the bag. Stanton was ruled safe. The fun doesn’t stop there, though, as the umpiring crew ADMITTED they got the initial call wrong. What kind of clowns-on-mescaline world am I living in when the UMPIRE is right about something?!?! Who is the blind chimp telling them to run and which rocket can we strap him to?

Meme/GIF of the Week: Aaron Boone, after a 14-inning loss:

https://gfycat.com/ifr/UncommonBabyishImperatorangel

Conor McGregor Attacks Bus of UFC Fighters, Faces Charges

By Thomas Albano

I was going to make a video for the Cheap Seats Youtube this week, after Tony Ferguson was replaced with Max Holloway for this Saturday’s UFC 223 main event, on the laughable madness that is the UFC lightweight division.

But I didn’t, and I’m glad I didn’t. Because on April 5, the UFC 223 card, and the promotion itself, was rocked.

The UFC was holding a media day for the UFC pay-per-view, which is headlined by UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway facing Khabib Nurmagomedov. The winner would receive the UFC Lightweight Title, which would be stripped from Conor McGregor — following a reign of about 17 months with zero title defenses — with the first strike of the said bout.

But McGregor showed up at the UFC 223 media day in Brooklyn, New York. And what we got was madness.

The Events

Early in the afternoon of April 5, McGregor, along with teammate and fellow UFC fighter Artem Lobov, and several other members of his team showed up to the Barclays Center, site of UFC 223, and raised hell. McGregor and crew began to bang on windows as a vehicle filled with UFC fighters was ready to depart the arena. Notably, McGregor threw a hand dolly and smashed one of the vehicle’s windows.

Michael Chiesa, who was scheduled to face Anthony Pettis on the main card, was cut with lacerations. He was transported to a hospital, and while he felt well, the New York State Athletic Commission deemed the lacerations, along with the weight he still had to cut, too much to handle and canceled the bout.

A bout between flyweights Ray Borg and Brandon Moreno was called off because of Borg’s suffering an eye injury in the ordeal. Several other fighters were “shaken up” by the incident, including UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion Rose Namajunas — who defends her title in the UFC 223 co-main event — who was nearly hit during the altercation. A UFC employee also suffered a broken knuckle during the violent outburst.

The attack was supposedly in retaliation to Khabib and his team confronting Lobov when the latter was alone. According to UFC President Dana White, two journalists from The Mac Life let McGregor into the facility.

The Aftermath

Following the event, White addressed the media, with no prepared statement in hand. White called McGregor’s actions “the most disgusting thing that has ever happened in the history of [the UFC].” He went on to say that McGregor has ruined professional relationships and that the former UFC featherweight and lightweight titleholder will be in jail.

Lobov’s bout with Alex Caceres was canceled because of Lobov’s participation in the attack. At 11 p.m. ET, later that night, McGregor turned himself into NYPD custody.

McGregor, according to the BBC, will be in court the morning of April 6, facing assault charges. No lawsuits have been filed against McGregor or the UFC yet, but White says he sees McGregor will be “sued beyond belief.”

Editorial

Scary to say, but it’s kind of courageous to see the lengths McGregor went to in order to help his friend. The issue — it’s affected people who had nothing to do with the McGregor vs. Khabib rivalry. Because of McGregor’s actions, five people not named Artem Lobov (and dare I say at least three people more important to the UFC than Artem Lobov) are not competing at UFC 223.

If you find yourself wanting to side with McGregor, do me a favor — put yourself in the shoes of Michael Chiesa or Ray Borg. You’re training hard, prepping for the weight cut, it may be one of the biggest fights of your career. And now, nothing. Well, something — an injury. And no fight bonus payday all because of some bull that you weren’t involved with.

And if you still don’t understand, I dare you to go to Brooklyn and tell those fighters your defense of McGregor to their face.

This is already the third consecutive UFC PPV event to not have its originally planned main event. UFC 221 saw Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker pull out because of a staph infection, and UFC 222 saw Holloway (coincidentally enough) forced out of his planned title bout due to injury.

The UFC is lucky Rose Namajunas vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk is happening at UFC 223. Imagine if that fight got canceled — the card would have lost both of its original main events and three additional cards. Not to mention, there’s the uncertainty of Khabib and Holloway’s weigh-ins (plus the combat sports world lost Canelo-GGG II this week). And how much more could the UFC 223 take before they’re forced to offer refunds?

So, what should happen as a result of this incident?

  1. Strip Conor of the UFC Lightweight Title (OFFICIALLY and ASAP) – They have stated that McGregor would be stripped once the main event of UFC 223 starts. My question: what happens if there’s a weight issue with one Khabib or Holloway? What if there’s a last-minute cancelation again? Even if something causes the planned main event of UFC 223 to not go on, McGregor should be stripped. He hasn’t defended the title in 17 months, and the UFC needs to show priority and appeal to morals and ethics in times like these.
  2. Blacklist MacLife reporters – If it’s true that McGregor was let in via two reports from The MacLife website, those reports should lose their credentials and be blacklisted from MMA events (let alone UFC events).
  3. McGregor revoked of fighting license – I don’t see how it can be any less of this ultimate punishment. If he gets just a slap on the wrist, it’s honestly kind of disgusting.
    If Mike Tyson gets a license revoking for the biting of Evander Holyfield’s ear, if Jon Jones gets an indefinite suspension for a hit-and-run of a pregnant woman, then surely McGregor deserves quite the punishment.
    With McGregor’s superstardom, the UFC can’t just outright fire him. There will be some promotion (Bellator maybe? Maybe not considering the Marc Goddard incident from back in the fall) who’ll try to grab him up immediately upon availability. And the UFC has lost the likes of Ronda Rousey, Jon Jones and Georges St Pierre, so they’re already suffering from star-power loss at it is.
    But the revoking prevents anything like that and prevents a payday for McGregor.
    And if for some cruel reason, this ends up being all a work for promotion for an eventual Conor-Khabib showdown (just for you conspiracy theorists out there), the UFC gets to face quite a roadblock.

    In conclusion, this may have been career-suicide for Conor. It’s sad to see he’s fallen off the deep end.

    On Wednesday, April 4, White stated it would be great for Conor to show up to UFC 223. My how time changes things.