Hey look everybody, here’s another edition of My 2 Sense! I know I know, we have been away for some time, but have not forgotten about you. That said, there were a few things that made me want to pick up my laptop and type… so here we go.
#1. The Brooklyn Nets
Boy do they look like a juggernaut. I guess that’s what happens when you seemingly add All-Star players to your roster month after month. What started with the great, and enigmatic Kyrie Irving, and all-world scorer extraordinaire (that is when he actually plays in a game), Kevin Durant, has added 3 new superstars to the mix. As we covered here before, James Harden “played his way” into a trade to Brooklyn. Heck of an example for the youngsters my friend, half ass your play long enough to get your way. And what a surprise that he has not only found his game (MVP candidate once again), but a treadmill to get in tiptop shape. KI, KD, and The Beard… That is an embarrassment of riches, but is it enough in today’s NBA? Of course not! Blake Griffin, come on down; and while we’re at it, are you busy LaMarcus Aldridge? Griffin is a six-time NBA All-Star and a five-time All-NBA selection, while Aldridge has been chosen to five All-NBA teams and is a seven-time NBA All-Star. As of this writing, 11 AM, Thursday, 4/15, LaMarcus Aldridge just announced his retirement from the NBA, citing health concerns (an irregular heartbeat).
Photo: Fadeaway World
Hey Steve Nash, this coaching gig ain’t so hard is it? The only cold water you could possible lollipop is that they have yet to appear in a game together. Whether it is Durant missing nearly 2 months of action because of a left hamstring injury, or my favorite, for “load management” (more like a load of….If you ask me), Kyrie taking time off for “personal reasons”, or Harden now hobbled by a right hamstring strain, the team is certainly not the picture of health at the moment. Keep in mind that Griffin is 32 years old, and has a long history of injuries himself.
The Nets have pushed all of their chips to the middle of the table this season. They’ve basically have hung a sign on the Barclays Center that reads: “No Sleep Till Championship”! It really is title or bust for this long-suffering franchise. The question now becomes, can Brooklyn get its stars healthy, rested, and accustomed to playing with each other in time to face the Los Angeles Lakers who will be doing much the same with their stars Lebron James and Anthony Davis. In fact, can we just give each team 2 weeks to do this and just play the darn finals then?
#2. The New York Yankees
I know we are only 12 games into the season, but because some of their old bugaboo’s have carried over from last season, the Yankees find themselves in last place in the American League East with a 5-7 record. The club that was built to club baseballs over the fence as its main source of scoring runs, isn’t doing much of that out of the gates. Their inability to “generate” offense has seen them score more than 3 runs in a game just three times (5 is the high watermark thus far), and they have been shut out twice already. When you are not banging balls over the fence at a dizzying pace, struggling to come through with runners in scoring position gets magnified. When just a bleeder up the middle into centerfield will get the job done, they just haven’t gotten it. Turn on sports radio and Bomber backers are cla moring for “small ball”, and they blame Brian Cashman for assembling a roster more suited for “big ball”. As a rule, pitchers are usually a bit ahead of hitters coming out of spring training so let’s not bury the Bronx Bombers bats just yet.
Photo: Bronx Pinstripes
Did someone say pitchers? Well, Gerrit “the great” Cole has been just that. He is 2-0 with a 1.47 ERA. The problem is, anyone not named Gerrit Cole has been, shall we say, “less than great”? Instead of addressing his starting pitching staff this off-season (hello Trevor Bauer), Cashman opted for bargain-basement beauties, Corey Kluber (6.10 ERA) and Jameson Taillon (7.56 ERA). No, 3 starts do not a season make, but both are coming off major injuries and their early returns are returnable.
Photo: Pinstripe Alley
Defense at shortstop is becoming a daily issue for the pinstripes as well. Gleyber Torres is an awesome offensive player, but a mediocre at best shortstop. Truth be told, his best position is probably 2nd base. His play in the field has already cost the Yanks mightily in a handful of games. He’s been so shaky that noted baseball writer, Joel Sherman wrote a long column in which he all but advocated trading the 24-year-old Venezuelan to the Colorado Rockies for Trevor Story.
#3. Speaking of stories, for the Mets, and Jacob deGrom in particular, theirs should be called; The more things change, the more they stay the same!
This is now getting ridiculous. For years we’ve known that Jacob deGrom has not gotten adequate run support, and sadly that trend has picked up right where it left off in 2021. In his 1st start this year he threw 6 scoreless innings against division rival Philadelphia, and was pulled by manager Luis Rojas after only 77 pitches. His “mates” scratched across 0 runs for him leading to a no decision. His 2nd trip to the mound was, dare I say, deGromian! JD’s pitching line was (8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 14 K’s), and yet the Mets couldn’t muster a stinkin run of support for their ace, who was saddled with the loss (3-0 to the Miami Marlins).
Photo: SB Nation
Going back to 2018, the Mets are 36-42 in deGrom’s 78 starts, and of those 42 losses, he delivered 31 quality starts (at least six innings, three earned runs or fewer). The word waste does not even begin to describe what the club has done, or better yet not done, with his body of work. To think that he’s won 2 of the last 3 Cy Young Awards (2018 and 2019 with a combined 21-17 record) is remarkable. What else is remarkable is that he has never once complained or taken a shot at his teammates for their shortcomings when he’s on the hill. You are a bigger man than I Jacob.
#4. Trading Places
If you haven’t noticed college basketball is going through a player upheaval at the moment. There are over 1,300 players who have entered their name into a database in which college coaches can re–recruit them. It was put in place in 2018 as a way to level the playing field for “student athletes” as their coaches were allowed to take new jobs without having to face some sort of penalty. On the other hand would have to sit out a full season should they up and leave. So, players looking for greener pastures are able to do so now without having to miss a year. Just yesterday the NCAA passed a transfer rule that will allow all college athletes, including football and men’s basketball players, to transfer one time and receive immediate eligibility.. This can be a double-edged sword however as programs can lose important pieces as well as gain them.
As for how this has affected the locals, Seton Hall has done a terrific job filling some holes headed into next year. The gem of the Hall’s haul is Syracuse freshman guard Kadary Richmond. The 6’5″ 180 pound Brooklyn native has star qualities, and they should blossom as a Pirate as soon as next year.
— Tipton Edits (@TiptonEdits) April 6, 2021
Kevin Willard will also welcome in American University transfer, Jamir Harris who will have one year of eligibility remaining, and his younger brother JaQuan, a 3-star high school senior. Rounding out his portal imports is 6’8″ forward Alexis Yetna, a junior from the University of South Florida. Although SHU does lose the services of Takal Molson, and fan favorite, Shavar Reynolds, they retooled quite nicely in advance of the 2021/22 season.
As for Rutgers, the big news is that Geo Baker has declared for the NBA draft. He will however not sign with an agent, thus leaving the door open for a return to the banks next year. Steve Pikiell has lost the services of 3 important core Scarlet Knights though. Jacob Young, Myles Johnson, and most recently, Montez Mathis have decided to move away from Piscataway. That Young and Johnson left was not surprising, the Mathis development though is a bit (at least to this writer).
I am declaring for the 2021 NBA Draft pic.twitter.com/PmtpaVnhXE
— Geo Baker (@Geo_Baker_1) April 7, 2021
Feature Photo: Richmond Times-Dispatch
Pikiell was recently quoted as saying “the transfer portal is one of those things that’s a part of life now, if we can add somebody from it that brings value, is a great kid and wants to calm here to Rutgers, we are certainly going to be open to those conversations”. Sounds to me like additions will be made. Stay tuned.
And that is a wrap. Thank you for indulging me in this week’s My 2 Sense.