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Jastremski: An Electric Weekend In The Bronx

Yanks/Stros In October Sounds Tasty!

You never want to get nuts with a late June series, one way or another if you’re a Major League team.

That said, there was a heightened sense of adrenaline kicking in the Bronx this past weekend for the Yankees-Astros series.

After Sunday’s finale finished up, my first thought was.

Man, can we get 7 of these come October?

The Yankees and the Astros have developed quite the rivalry over the last couple of seasons.

They’ve played multiple playoff series, both teams have won a whole lot of games, and of course the bad blood from the 2017 cheating scandal.

There is no love lost for the Yankees and the Astros.

There is certainly no love lost for Astros star Jose Altuve from the Yankee faithful.

However, the rivalry has been pretty one-sided in games that really matter.

The Astros are responsible for eliminating the Yankees from the 2015 Wild Card game and the 2017 & 2019 American League Championship Series.

Cheaters or not, the Astros have pretty much owned the Yankees.

I looked at this past weekend as a great litmus test for the red hot Bombers.

As far as I’m concerned, the Yankees passed the initial tough test.

They split the four games, but the wins and losses featured two different subplots.

The two wins on Thursday & Sunday displayed the grit and intestinal fortitude that has been on full display in the Bronx all summer.

On Thursday, the Yankees were down 3 in the 9th inning. Aaron Hicks hit a 3 run bomb to tie it and Aaron Judge walked it off with a double.

Friday and Saturday didn’t go quite as well for the Yankee bats.

They were shut down by Yankee nemesis Justin Verlander on Friday night and on Saturday, the Yankees were no-hit for the first time since 2003.

Ironically enough, the last team to no-hit the Yankees was the Houston Astros, the same exact script that took shape on Saturday afternoon.

Sunday wasn’t looking particularly good for 6 innings.

The Yankees once again were being no-hit, but the difference between the 2021 Yankees and this year’s team was on full display.

The Yankees scratched and clawed their way back. A couple of homers to tie the game and an Aaron Judge walk-off bomb in extras to win it.

It was an electric weekend of baseball in the Bronx.

Two terrific teams, star power all over the field, and exactly the sort of series you’d want to see come October.

The Yankees have a whole lot cooking in 2022. If they want to win it all, they must slay the dragon that is a very dangerous Houston Astros team.

Theater that I would most certainly pay to see!

You can listen to my podcast New York, New York every Sunday, Tuesday & Thursday on The Ringer Podcast Network on Spotify/Apple Podcasts. You can watch me nightly on Geico Sportsnight following Mets postgame on SNY.

Jastremski: Little things propelling the two best teams in Baseball

I know a baseball season is all about perspective.

When you play 162 games, it’s important not to get too low or too high regarding the state of affairs for your team.

However, it’s almost the end of June. That’s three plus months of baseball this season.

The Yankees have the best record in the sport. The Mets have the second best record in the sport.

It’s been well documented here, on my podcast and on my television appearances how enjoyable this has been for me!

To put the NY Baseball perspective in some context. So far, the Yankees are on pace to eclipse the win mark set by the record setting 1998 team.

For the Mets, they’re off to their best start since the 1986 season.

Fair to say 1986 and 1998 worked out pretty well for the Mets and Yankees respectively.

Look, I’m not telling you a Subway Series is a foregone conclusion yet.

There is a long way to go, but we can safely say, both NY baseball teams are really good.

Yes, they’re talented, but I’ve noticed a specific difference in both the 2022 Yankees and Mets compared to some other versions over the years.

The Yankees and Mets both have this in common, they’re doing the little things very well.

The Yankees a year ago were the ultimate boom or bust team. They relied on the homerun entirely, they couldn’t run the bases, couldn’t field their position and couldn’t hold a lead.

If you’ve watched the Yankees at any point this year, you’re seeing a totally different brand of baseball.

The base running and defense is drastically better and it’s made a difference in their record.

For the Mets, the last two seasons hitting with runners in scoring position was an absolute nightmare.

The Mets couldn’t buy a big hit and in reality, it probably cost them trips to the postseason each of the last two years.

The offensive approach implemented by Buck Showalter and hitting coach Eric Chavez has required the Mets at times to get back to basics.

That approach has delivered top notch results.

Look, the Mets added some terrific hitters. Mark Cahna and Starling Marte for starters, but up and down the lineup, the approach at the plate is flat out better.

The Mets have done a masterful job all year of putting the ball in play and as a result of that, it has highlighted some of their opponent’s deficiencies.

No need to apologize for them, just take advantage.

Winning baseball can seem obvious at times, but it’s more than meets the eye.

The little nuances of the game that evaded the Yankees and Mets over the last two years have been mastered so far this season.

Little things lead to big things and a whole lot of wins around town these days…

You can listen to my podcast New York, New York every Sunday, Tuesday & Thursday on The Ringer Podcast Network on Spotify/Apple Podcasts. You can watch me nightly on Geico Sportsnight after Mets postgame on SNY.

Jastremski: It may be over for the NY Rangers, but they’ve only just begun

By: John Jastremski

Well, all feel-good rides must come to an end.

For the New York Rangers, the feel-good ride extended beyond anybody’s wildest dreams.

After all, the idea of the Rangers playing in the Eastern Conference Finals would have sounded comical back in October.

The Rangers exceeded expectations, grew as a team, flourished as a team, and inspired a fan base that was hungry for playoff hockey.

The Rangers brought a team to the postseason that didn’t exactly have a ton of playoff experience.

After the Eastern Conference Finals, they’ve now played 20 playoff games.

They won five elimination games and overcame a 3-1 first-round deficit and a 3-2 second-round deficit.

The Rangers provided a spring full of exhilarating moments.

They also learned a valuable lesson.

Don’t let the champs off the hook.

Despite all of the good vibes of the ‘21-‘22 Rangers season, the team was up 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals against the two time Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

In addition to their 2-0 series advantage, the Rangers held a 2-0 lead in Game 3.

The Rangers’ inability to close out the Lightning in Game 3 gave the two-time champs exactly the sort of jumpstart that they needed.

After Game 3, it was no secret. The Lightning were the sharper and more complete hockey team.

Tampa outplayed the Rangers in the final four games of the series and reminded the hockey world of their greatness.

A tough pill for Rangers fans to swallow, but if you’re looking for a silver lining, do yourself a favor. Take a listen to Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach John Cooper after his team clinched the series in six.

Cooper made it clear to anyone listening that he thinks over the next few years, the Rangers will be in the position to be the last team standing.

With Igor Shesterkin in net, explosive young goal scorers, and some veteran experience mixed in, I wouldn’t bet against that prediction.

Nothing is a given in sports, next season the Rangers will have to go out and prove it again.

You don’t get many free years in sports, the Rangers most certainly won’t have one next year, but this year was pretty darn fun.

I could be wrong, but I think for this group of New York Rangers. They’ve only just begun…

You can listen to my podcast New York, New York on The Ringer Podcast Network every Sunday, Tuesday & Thursday on Spotify & Apple Podcasts. You can also watch me nightly on Geico Sportsnight right after Mets Postgame on SNY.

Jastremski: A New Fab 5 in the Boogie Down

In the middle of Rangers fever, Instagram and the nature of the new Yankee Stadium, it’s tough to get a June crowd rocking the way you would an October crowd.

Sadly, the nature of the beast these days. However, Thursday night was one of those nights where you could tell the new Yankee Stadium was very much alive and well.

Jameson Taillon was two innings away from making history, but at the same time the outcome of the ballgame was very much in doubt.

The stadium crowd was living and dying on every strike, every pitch and every out.

Taillon lost the perfect game in the 8th inning and surrendered a run, but in many ways the Yankee crowd and Anthony Rizzo was not going to let the pitching performance go wasted.

The Yankees came back and won the game. Yankee Stadium was going bananas and I was in quite the good mood.

Little did I know, Taillon’s performance on Thursday night was just part one of a Yankee starter flirting with perfection.

Friday, the ace on paper Gerrit Cole was nothing short of brilliant against the Detroit Tigers.

Cole took a perfect game into the 7th inning.

Back to back starts with two guys seriously flirting with perfect games? I watch a whole lot of baseball, that simply doesn’t happen.

On Saturday, Luis Severino wasn’t flirting with a perfecto, but he delivered a 1 hit, 7 inning shutout masterpiece.

I know the Tigers lineup is nothing to write home about, but it will be tough to imagine three starts in a row from teammates being better than Taillon, Cole and Severino in 2022 throughout the sport.

The Yankees are rolling every which way so far this season and their starting pitching has hands down been the biggest reason.

Entering the 2022 season, I expected Gerritt Cole to be the ace of the staff and everything else would fall into place.

I didn’t expect that the highest era for a Yankee starter would be Jordan Montgomery’s 3.02, which is 14th amongst starters in the American League.

I thought this Yankee rotation would surprise people, because I expected a resurgent year from Severino and I believed in Cortes.

Could I have imagined this would be what the rotation would look like in the middle of June?

Not in a million years.

The last time the Yankees received high quality starting pitching like this, the end result was a parade down the Canyon of Heroes.

It’s premature to start thinking about that, but it’s not premature thinking about the possibility of multiple Yankee starters finding their way to Los Angeles for the All-Star Game.

I know the Fab 5 has branding rights, but the Yankees have a Fab 5 of their own.

A Fab 5 on the mound in the Boogie Down Bronx.

You can listen to my podcast New York, New York on The Ringer Podcast Network every Sunday, Tuesday & Thursday nights on Spotify & Apple Podcasts. You can watch me nightly on Geico Sportsnight after Mets postgame on SNY.

Jastremski: Comeback Blueshirts Conference Finals Bound

All season long, the New York Rangers have continued to find ways to win.

In some ways, it shouldn’t surprise anyone what this team has been able to accomplish so far this postseason.

However, in other ways. It should!

The Rangers have won five consecutive games facing elimination. No easy feat.

They were down 3-1 against the Penguins and found a way to rally.

In the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Rangers found themselves in familiar territory.

After a lackluster Game 5 effort, the Rangers proceeded to outscore Carolina 11-4 in the final two games of the series advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2015.

The Rangers dominating 6-2 Game 7 win was the first home loss for the Carolina Hurricanes all postseason.

The Rangers beat the Hurricanes because of two main reasons.

Special Teams and goaltending.

The Rangers power-play was responsible for the first two goals of Game 7. Adam Fox and Chris Kreider delivered in ways that the Carolina Hurricanes could not.

There was no comparison between the Rangers and Hurricanes power play units.

In addition, there was no comparison between goaltenders.

Igor Shesterskin was spectacular in all seven games in net.

The goaltender advantage was overwhelming for the Blueshirts.

They will not have the same advantage going into the Conference Finals against the two time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Lightning are on the verge of a dynasty, they are battle tested and well rested.

Is this a series you expect the Rangers to win, probably not.

Guess what, doesn’t matter.

The Rangers have spunk, they have terrific goaltending and special teams and they have nothing to lose.

A young, emerging Rangers team against a budding dynasty.

I’ve learned my lesson with this Rangers group, don’t count them out.

You can listen to my podcast New York, New York every Sunday, Tuesday & Thursday on the Ringer Podcast Network on Spotify & Apple Podcasts. You can also watch me nightly on Geico Sportsnight on SNY.

Jastremski: No Max, No Problem For Now…

About a week ago, there was a collective sigh across Met land.

Top of the 6th inning. Ace pitcher Max Scherzer was on the mound up to his usual tricks against the St. Louis Cardinals lineup, then all of a sudden… a gut punch.

Max Scherzer gesturing for the trainer and removing himself from the ballgame put every Met fan on alert.

The prized ace and difference-maker grimaced in pain. What could it be?

Did Mets fans think the worst? Of course, they did, and honestly who could blame them.

It’s part of being a Mets fan, after all just look at what has transpired with Jacob deGrom over the past year.

Thankfully the news on Scherzer was not the worst-case scenario.

Scherzer hurt his oblique. They’re tricky, he will miss around 6 to 8 weeks, but it’s not a season-ending injury.

That said, I wondered following the news how the Mets would respond down two aces.

So far, they’ve been at the top of their game.

On Thursday, the Mets overcame an Edwin Diaz blown save which in reality was the end result of bad defense, and turned that into a Pete Alonso signature walk-off homer moment.

Sunday, the Mets found a way to win yet another series against the Colorado Rockies with some clutch hitting, quality pitching, and top-notch defense.

It’s closing in on Memorial Day weekend which is one of those milestone markers in the baseball season to evaluate progress.

So far, everything about the 2022 Mets season has been a joy to watch.

The team plays hard, they have a ton of grit and unlike the teams of the last few years, they find ways to win.

The 2020-2021 Mets found ways to lose.

The 2022 Mets find ways to win.

Is that the direct result of Buck Showalter’s presence? Well, his leadership most certainly plays a role, because his approach to the game is easy to see all over the Mets team.

The Scherzer injury would have been a convenient excuse for a tailspin.

Not for the 2022 Mets. Not now at least.

It’s the end of May, but the more you see of this baseball team, the more you like…

You can listen to my podcast New York, New York every Sunday, Tuesday & Thursday evenings on the Ringer Podcast Network on Spotify & Apple Podcasts. You can also watch me nightly on Geico Sportsnight on SNY.

Jastremski: Is lowly NY Football about to turn a corner?

The NY Football situation since the 2012 season has been as bad as it gets around the sport.

This is no secret, after all, just take a peak at the record for the Jets and Giants over the past ten years.

A whole lot of losses and not a whole lot of meaningful Decembers…

Last week was a unique opportunity based upon ineptitude and a wise trade for each of course. The Jets and Giants had four of the top ten picks in the 2022 NFL Draft.

I would hope it’s a situation that we don’t see ever again.

The 2022 Draft opened the door for the Giants and Jets to spark franchise turnarounds.

Look, it’s impossible to know for sure if these teams get it right or wrong, but on paper it looked quite spectacular for both teams.

The Jets are in the third year of the Joe Douglas tenure.

His 2020 draft was very suspect and his 2021 draft produced instant results.

The 2022 draft saw the Jets address three major needs. Cornerback, Wide Receiver and Defensive End.

Sauce Gardner was as good as it gets at Cincinnati. You couldn’t score on the guy.

With Tyreke Hill, Jalen Waddle and Stefon Diggs all suiting up in the AFC East, it behooves the Jets to have a lockdown corner.

The Jets had better hope Sauce is way closer to Revis than Millner…

Garrett Wilson provides second year quarterback Zack Wilson with another talented receiver to throw to. The Jets sure hope that Wilson can play alongside last years talented rookie Elijah Moore as a tandem for years to come.

In addition, Douglas wisely traded back into the first round to snag defensive end Jermaine Johnson who has a chance to be the first legitimate home grown edge rusher since John Abraham, who was drafted over twenty years ago…

The Jets have been re-tooling and rebuilding for the past few seasons, but now it’s time to start winning some games.

For the Giants, the new regime of Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll went to the roots of what has made the Giants successful with their two first round picks.

The Giants snagged the electrifying Kayvon Thibodeaux out of Oregon. Thibodeaux has a booming personality, thinks very highly of himself and should be wrecking havoc on quarterbacks for years to come.

For some, there were questions about Thibodeaux’s attitude. I don’t have the same questions, in fact I see a player who has the swagger and confidence that is made for New York.

The Giants saw the draft board fall perfectly to allow them to end up with a stud pass rusher and one of the top three linemen on the board.

Evan Neal is a big boy, has Alabama pedigree and has no issues playing Right Tackle.

A team that has had major issues on the offensive line, should have two pillars at tackle for years to come with Neal joining forces with Andrew Thomas.

On paper, everything looks terrific for both the Jets and Giants.

It’s hard for me to knock anything I saw on draft day.

However, these grades don’t go final for a few years.

The Jets and Giants have seen way too many F’s over the last few years, it’s time to start passing some NFL classes…

The Jets and Giants need some long term A’s…

You can listen to my podcast New York, New York every Sunday, Wednesday & Friday plus Ringer Gambling Picks on Tuesday & Friday on The Ringer Podcast Network on Spotify & Apple Podcasts.

You can watch me nightly on Geico Sportsnight after Mets games on SNY.

Yanks Off the Mat

The 2021 Yankees season should have a surgeon’s general warning attached to it. It’s almost a guarantee every night that the Yankees will play a game that comes down to the wire.
I was shocked to find out that the Yankees are actually 19-12 in one-run games this season. After all, we’ve all watched the Yankees this season right?
I’ve legitimately lost count when it comes to the amount of excruciating and gut-wrenching defeats, especially at the hands of the bullpen, over the last two months.
In the Field of Dreams game on Thursday night, the Yankees suffered another back-breaking loss in the middle of a cornfield to the White Sox.
The dramatics of Giancarlo Stanton’s two-out, ninth-inning go-ahead home run were vanquished within ten minutes when White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson returned the favor in the bottom half of the inning.
After Thursday night, I legitimately wondered how many more of these losses the Yankees could withstand the rest of this season.
After all, they’ve had at least eight-to-ten losses this year when it was totally fair to wonder if the team and its players would be able to recover.
However, there’s one thing that shouldn’t be questioned when it comes to the 2021 Yankees: the team gets off the mat and responds.
Look at this weekend for instance.
The Yankees lost a heartbreaking game to one of the most talented teams in the American League. They had every reason to whine, allow it to linger in the Windy City, and lead to an extended funk, but the team did the exact opposite.
The Yankees survived a bullpen meltdown on Saturday and a near meltdown on Sunday, but won the series against Chicago.
A Yankees team dealing with a ton of injuries and COVID has put together the best record in the AL in the second half of the season.
I have been very critical of Yankees manager Aaron Boone throughout the season, but he deserves a ton of credit for keeping this team together.
I am officially done when it comes to counting the 2021 Yankees out after a bad loss. Despite their flaws, the team has shown a whole lot of resilience.
But can that resilience propel the Yankees into the month of October? The answer in the middle of August is drastically different from what it would have been one month ago. If you’re a Yankees fan, that is a good thing.
It’s time to finish the job.

You can listen to my podcast “New York, New York” on The Ringer Podcast Network every Sunday Night, Wednesday Early Morning & Friday Early Morning on Spotify & Apple Podcasts. 

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