The Week That Was: Down Jones Day

    Last month New York Giants fans were giddy when quarterback Daniel Jones, who was anointed to be Eli Manning’s successor and was the Giants’ first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, rallied the team from an 18-point deficit against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a win and followed that up with a 24-3 victory against the admittedly pitiful Washington Redskins. Reality quickly ensued however with a pair of  losses to two good teams, the Minnesota Vikings and the New England Patriots. 

     This past Sunday’s game appeared to be a good litmus test for Daniel Jones as he’d be facing a mediocre opposing team at MetLife Stadium, the Arizona Cardinals, who are also led by a rookie QB, 2018 Heisman Trophy winner, Kyler Murray. In addition, Jones would finally have the services of star running back Saquon Barkley who had missed the last month recovering from an ankle sprain.

     Jones’ stats weren’t bad as he completed 22 of 35 pass attempts for 223 yards and developed a nice rapport with tight end Rhett Ellison who kept drives alive with key third down receptions.

     The downside however was he turned the football over three times because of two fumbles and an interception on the Giants’ first offensive series. In fairness the Giants offensive line couldn’t protect  Jones as he was thrown around like a rag doll by the Cardinals pass rush as he was sacked seven times. He was also hampered by his butterfingered receivers who dropped numerous catchable passes.

    Saquon Barkley was outplayed by his Cardinals’ running back counterpart, Fordham alum Chase Edmonds, Both teams were seemingly penalized on every other play. The Giants infractions came at more inopportune times which may have been the key difference in the Cardinals’ 27-21 win.           

     Since New York Mets general manager appears to be casting a wide net in his search for a new manager. I’d suggest he interview former Mets catcher and 1999 playoff hero, Todd Pratt.

      Pratt has spent the last two years managing in the Miami Marlins minor league system and managed a Georgia college baseball team before that. I’ve known him for over 20 years and have always been impressed with his communication skills with both players and the media. He can handle the big stage.

    Mets fans had to chuckle watching both Houston Astros and New York Yankees closers, Roberto Osuna and Aroldis Chapman respectively, surrender gut-wrenching ninth inning two-run homers in Game 6 of the American League Championship series. Astros and Yankees fans got a strong taste of what it was like to watch Edwin Diaz trying to protect a lead this past season.

     Speaking of Saturday night’s Game 6, why did both the Yankees and the Astros use relief pitchers the entire night instead of using fourth starters such as JA Happ and Wade Miley respectively? They each could have gone at least five innings. Yankees manager Aaron Boone did use Happ for two innings and he pitched well.

    Both teams would have been in trouble if Game 6 had gone deep into extra innings which could have happened if not for Astros second baseman Jose Altuve’s home run heroics.

     Edgardo Alfonzo, one of the most popular Mets during the late 1990s and early 2000s and who has continued to live in Douglaston since his Mets playing days, was dismissed as manager of the Brooklyn Cyclones in spite of the fact they are the 2019 NY-Penn League champions. Brodie Van Wagenen wants to install his own personnel throughout the Mets farm system. Alfonzo will remain in the organization as a Mets goodwill ambassador.

   The WNBA’s New York Liberty announced last week they had fired their head coach of the past two seasons, Katie Smith. Given the fact the Libs only won 25% of their games during that time period it’s hard to quibble with their decision.

      More significantly, the Liberty will be relocating from the tiny Westchester County Center to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. This should raise the spirits of players both on the team and around the league. Point guard Kia Nurse played in front of far more people during her career at UConn than during her two years with the Liberty.

      Kyle Turley, who was an outspoken NFL offensive lineman during his eight-year career was a panelist at last week’s Sports Business Journal Octagon Sports Marketing Symposium on the growth of cannabidiol (CBD) products. Turley spoke passionately about the pain he incurred as a player and it led him to have frequent suicide thoughts.

     He discovered that cannabis products helped him recover from pain and helped his mental outlook while opiates did neither. In response he started his own CBD product company, Neuro XPF.

     I asked Turley about why neither the NFL or its Players Association have embraced either CBD products or medical marijuana since many studies have shows them to be effective as a way of improving a variety of physical maladies.

      Turley blamed the NFL’s conservatism and its physicians who have relationships with big pharmaceutical companies. He also felt National Football League Players Association president DeMaurice Smith hasn’t adequately addressed the diminished quality of life issues for players, both current and retired, who have incurred concussions and other physical damage that are byproducts of life in the NFL.

    Former NBA star Kevin Garnett also spoke at the Sports Marketing Symposium. He expressed his admiration for the Big 3 League started by the entertainer Ice Cube a couple years ago in which retired players compete in three-on-three schoolyard-type basketball games across the country. Garnett also plugged his co-starring role in an upcoming Adam Sandler film about a gambling addict, “Uncut Gems,” which had a screening at the recent New York Film Festival and will formally be released on December 13.

    Athletes from the American Cornhole League gave demonstrations of the sport at the symposium. Cornhole is a game where contestants stand 27 feet away from a titled board with a small circular opening and try to toss beanbags into it. Think of it as hybridization of gulf putting and shuffleboard. It is both fun and a bit frustrating.    

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