Bio: I cover the Brooklyn Nets, the St. John's Red Storm men's basketball team, and the Brooklyn Cyclones. I support the Fort Hamilton Tigers football team, a 3-time city champion. I am a graduate of Fort Hamilton High School (2003) and Brooklyn College (2008).
Posts by :
By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor - @JESchott19
Television history will be made on Thursday, September 11th as CBS debuts Thursday Night Football, the new entrant into the prime time football schedule.
Sean McManus said at a recent media event promoting this, “It’s always exciting when the NFL season is on the horizon, and it’s especially exciting for us this year having two packages (Sunday afternoon and Thursday night. I think you can tell from that video (the ads that CBS has run for Thursday Night Football with their stars) that the entire CBS corporation is behind the Thursday night package. The NFL has successfully established Sunday afternoon, they’ve successfully established Monday night and Sunday night, now we’re working hand in hand with the NFL to establish Thursday night.
“I don’t think the CBS corporation has ever mounted a larger or more expansive promotional campaign than we have had for this. The minute we got the rights to the Thursday night package back in February, the week after the Super Bowl, we started our promotional campaign two weeks after that and have continued it ever since. We are determined to work with the NFL to ensure this is a success and we are determined to put all of our resources in front of the camera, and behind, to guarantee that success,” said McManus.
Thursday Night Football will start at 6:00 pm on the NFL Network with “NFL Total Access Kickoff” from outside the stadium. It will be hosted by Rich Eisen with analysts Michael Irvin, Marshall Faulk, and Steve Mariucci.
CBS will come on the air at 7:30 pm with “NFL Thursday Night Kickoff” and that will be live from inside the stadium. It will be hosted by James Brown, with analysts Deion Sanders and Bill Cowher. This is in keeping with the tradition set by NFL Network when they ran this game exclusively, as Eisen and the crew would be in the stadium.
Throughout the 2014 season, NFL Network and CBS analysts such as Tony Gonzalez, Kurt Warner, LaDainian Tomlinson, Willie McGinest, and Terrell Davis will appear on location on both NFL Total Access Kickoff and NFL Thursday Night Kickoff.
Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will be the announcers, replacing Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock, who did a fine job with the games on NFL Network last season.
After each game, the Mazda Postgame show will be live from the stadium, with Eisen, Irvin, Faulk, Mariucci, and Sanders doing the same, lively show they always have. The postgame show is highlighted by interviewing players from the winning side and giving them a gift bag, which varies each week and it’s always fun to see what is in it. The players now will leave their handprints on the Winning Hands wall.
Rich Eisen has worked with the NFL Network since it’s inception in 2003 and when it started Thursday Night Football in 2006. He said of witnessing the progress of Thursday night games, “We’ve been doing this since 2006. I’ve been at virtually every Thursday night game in person for the past eight years and we’re really proud of it. The league decided to put it on a network platform and keep us involved, so we’re excited about every season, this one in particular.”
On if the league can take another primetime night like Friday, Eisen said, “No, no, no, I know Mark Cuban called the NFL like hogs or whatever, it’s not gonna happen on Friday night, it’s never gonna happen on Friday night. I mean, all you have to do is look at the fine print of the history of the NFL and television is that Friday night is for high schools, that’s the way it has to be, and the NFL will never infringe on that.
“So, Thursday night is good, Saturday night college football goes crazy every single week, but there’s always that two week period after the conference championship games and before the bowl season where there is no college football and that’s when the NFL can come in with doubleheaders, it’s not gonna be every week, Saturday you got that, Sunday is what it is, and there’s always been that Monday night history, now for over 40 years. I think this is a great model, I think obviously people watch it, you can’t get enough of it.”
Eisen said of what keeps the NFL popular, “Fantasy football helps keep this sport a national sport as opposed to a regional sport. There’s always gonna be a fan sitting up in Seattle who’s wondering what’s going on with the Tennessee Titans because they’ve got one of their players on their team, and it’s always crucial in that regard. So, I think this is just another exciting piece to the puzzle that’s forming and probably going to be settled very soon.”
The games that will be simulcast on CBS and the NFL Network are:
Week 2: September 11th: Steelers at Ravens — Week 3: Buccaneers at Falcons –Week 4: September 25th: Giants at Redskins — Week 5: October 2nd: Vikings at Packers — Week 6: October 9th: Colts at Texans — Week 7: October 16th: Jets at Patriots — Week 8: October 23rd: Chargers at Broncos — Week 9: October 30th: Saints at Panthers
The games that will be exclusively on NFL Network are: Week 10: November 6th: Browns at Bengals — Week 11: November 13th: Bills at Dolphins — Week 12: November 20th: Chiefs at Raiders — Week 14: December 4th: Cowboys at Bears — Week 15: December 11th: Cardinals at Rams — Week 16: December 18th: Titans at Jaguars
There is one Saturday doubleheader on the networks’ schedule, in Week 16, on December 20th, with the Eagles at Redskins and Chargers at 49ers, one of which will appear exclusively on NFL Network, and the other one, which would be assumed to be at night, on both CBS and NFL Network.
McManus said of partnering with the NFL Network, “I also want to say how satisfying it has been to work with the NFL Network as our true partner on this. Every decision and every part of the planning has been done hand in hand with the NFL Network. New graphics, new animations, complete production scheme, combining the best talent from the NFL Network and CBS for the pregame show. It really has been a collaborative effort and the results of that will be very evident on the screen.”
McManus likened it to another major sports event that CBS jointly produces with another network, and said, “The way we have worked together with them, to be honest with you, is not dissimilar to the relationship we had with Turner on the NCAA Basketball Championship. As all of you know, we combined forces with Turner to make the production of that event bigger and better than it’s ever been, and I’m proud to say we’re doing the same thing as equal partners with the NFL Network. When you see us come on the air at 6:00 on the NFL Network on that first Thursday, September 11th, you’re going to be impressed by the job we do.”
Coming soon: Jim Nantz and Phil Simms on announcing Thursday night
By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor - @JESchott19 Showcase photo – Manchester City taking on Liverpool at Yankee Stadium on July 30th, and both teams are in this competition
The UEFA Champions League is a competition among the best soccer teams in Europe, featuring top teams like Real Madrid of Spain, Manchester City of England, and Bayern Munich of Germany.
For those of you who watched the World Cup, this soccer is as good, if not better. The national teams in the World Cup have the best players, but never get to play enough to develop the chemistry these teams have.
The 32-team draw was announced today in a ceremony in Monaco that had the feel of an awards ceremony. There are eight four-team groups, and the best 16 teams (two from each group) move on. The games are played on Tuesdays and Wednesdays starting September 16th up until the Final in Berlin, Germany, on June 6, 2015.
Here is a look at the eight groups and how they shape up:
GROUP A: Atletico Madrid (Spain), Juventus (Italy), Olympiacos (Greece), Malmo (Sweden)
Atletico and Juventus are clearly the two best teams in this group, and they face each other on October 1st and December 6th.
Atletico won Spain’s La Liga last season, and lost the Champions League final in overtime to league rival Real Madrid. They are led by Cristiano Rodriguez, who starred for Uruguay at the World Cup, and Mario Mandzukic, who had 29 goals last season for Bayern Munich.
Juventus won Italy’s Serie A last year in dominant fashion, as they finished with 102 points, 17 ahead of second-place AS Roma. They are led by Italian national team goaltender Gianluigi Buffon and Carlos Tevez, who had 19 goals last season.
GROUP B: Real Madrid (Spain), Basel (Switzerland), Liverpool (England), Ludogorets (Bulgaria)
Real Madrid and Liverpool should have an easy time in this group to advance. They face each other on October 22nd and November 4th.
Real Madrid is the defending UEFA Champions League winner. They are led by Cristiano Ronaldo, the 2014 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award. He was given the award at the Champions League draw on Thursday. He had 17 goals in Champions League play last season, and that was enough to beat out Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben and Manuel Neuer for the award.
They also feature Iker Casillas, who has been their goalie for 12 years, including as a member of the 2002 Champions League winner. He has also enjoyed tremendous success with Spain, who won the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championship in 2008 and 2012. Casillas does not get the attention here compared to Ronaldo, but he is one of the best, even as good as American folk hero Tim Howard.
Their roster includes defenders Pepe, Sergio Ramos, and Marcelo, midfielders Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira, and Luka Modric, and forwards Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema,
Liverpool is owned by the very successful ownership group of the Boston Red Sox, John Henry and Tom Werner. They finished second in the English Premier League last season.
They recently acquired Italian star forward Mario Balotelli, and he joins a team that already features midfielders Steven Gerrard, Philippe Coutinho, and Raheem Sterling, defenders Kolo Toure, Martin Skrtel, and Geln Johnson, and forwards Daniel Sturridge and Ricky Lambert.
GROUP C: Benfica (Portugal), Zenit St. Petersburg (Russia), Bayer Leverkusen (Germany), Monaco (France)
The best team is Bayer Leverkusen, and then the battle for second should be between Zenit and Benfica.
Leverkusen finished fourth in Germany’s Bundesliga last season and made it here by beating FC Copenhagen 7-2 on aggregate (combining the scores of the two games, won 4-0 and 3-2 by Leverkusen) in a the playoff round this past week.
The interesting thing in this group is what they are going to do with the games at Zenit St. Petersburg in Russia, as that country’s President, Vladimir Putin, is increasingly isolating the country from the rest of the world over his taking of parts of Ukraine.
GROUP D: Arsenal (England), Borussia Dortmund (Germany), Galatasaray (Turkey), Anderlecht (Belgium)
The two best teams in this group by far are Arsenal and Dortmund.
Arsenal finished fourth in the English Premier League last season and they had to play in the playoff round this past week. They just squeaked by Besiktas of Turkey with a 1-0 win at home on Wednesday after a 0-0 draw in the opening game.
They are led by the longest-tenured Manager in the English Premier League in Arsene Wenger, with Wojciech Szczesny in goal, newly acquired defender Mathieu Debuchy, midfielders Mezut Ozil, Jack Wilshere, and Tomas Rosicky; and forwards Lucas Podolski, Olivier Giroud, and Theo Walcott.
GROUP E: Bayern Munich (Germany), Manchester City (England), CSKA Moscow (Russia), AS Roma (Italy)
Continue reading “Champions League: Like the World Cup, only better” »
By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor - @JESchott19
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and General Martin Dempsey spoke about the Hoops for Troops program at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night before the United States beat the Dominican Republic 105-62 in an exhibition game for the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Silver said of Dempsey the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “For those of you who only cover sports, he is the principal military advisor to the President and our nation’s highest ranking military officer, so you can imagine what an honor it is for me to be here tonight.”
Around ten years ago, USA Men’s Basketball team Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski began a Hoops for Troops program with the U.S. Military. Silver said, “I’ll let General Dempsey speak to it, but he and Coach K have both West Point and Duke University in common, and then over time that Hoops for Troops program was brought to the NBA and has turned into a commitment to service in which the NBA has partnered with our military, all 30 teams, to perform community service in our communities throughout the league.”
General Dempsey said of Hoops for Troops, “I like to think that this partnership, and that’s what it is is a partnership, brings together members of the best military in the world with members of the best basketball teams in the world. I mean, I think it’s actually quite a remarkable partnership and one that makes sense to America because, thankfully, the military enjoys a great esteem among the American people, as do these athletes, so if we can bond together and commit to give back, I think that we’ll be doing a lot of good, not just for ourselves, collaboratively, but also for the country, and that’s our goal.”
Dempsey also announced something special for the U.S. team before the game. “Tonight, by the way, you’ll be participating in a ceremony where some of these members of the United States military will present a dog tag to each of these players who are going forward to the world championships to represent our country, and that’s what we do every day. We serve around the world, protecting our country, and we want the players to understand how much we appreciate the fact that they are giving of their time and energy and sacrificing some of their personal lives this summer to represent our country.
“The dog tag is an iconic symbol in the military in the sense that it represents courage and trust. We wear it around our necks wherever we serve. And on these particular dog tags we’ve emblazoned the cloth of our country, the flag of the United States of America, and with three simple words on the bottom: Leadership, service, and teamwork.
And then on the back we have the player’s name and a little data about them, and on the other dog tag, there will be two, two to a player, we have the soldier, the airman, the marine or the Coast Guard next to his name so they can remember at this moment in time the United States military wished them not only good luck but also expressed our pride in them for representing our country,” said Dempsey.
Silver announced that, around Veterans Day of this upcoming season, all 30 teams have commitments to work with military bases in their communities. Last season, the Brooklyn Nets practiced at Fort Hamilton Army Base in Bay Ridge on Veteran’s Day.
Silver continued, “In addition to that, and I can’t say enough about what Coach K and General Dempsey have done together to motivate our players and to motivate our troops on behalf of our country. In effect, our USA Basketball team that you’ll be seeing play tonight is serving their country, and that’s something that General Dempsey has talked about and something that we’re enormously proud of.
“In addition, as many of you know, earlier this week, our players performed in essence an open practice for 4,000 members of the military and their families at West Point. I wasn’t there myself. I watched the footage, though, and I’ve heard it was just a fantastic event. And then here tonight at Madison Square Garden, we are entertaining 1,000 members of the military and their families as part of tonight’s exhibition game,” said Silver.
Dempsey spoke of NBA players playing internationally, “Could I actually say something about that? You’re right (speaking to the questioner), I feel like my own perspective might lend some context to this, not as an athlete. You could say I’m vertically challenged so there’s nobody out there that’s going to be threatened by anything I say in terms of basketball.
“But I still remember to this day the first time I put on the uniform, and on our utility or daily uniform over your left breast pocket, it’ll say “United States Army” or “United States Navy” or “United States Marine Corps,” “United States Air Force.” I still to this day remember the first time I put it on.
“I can only imagine the first time these kids — they’re not kids, these young men, pull that jersey on with USA emblazoned on the front. That’s got to mean something. One of the things the Commissioner has always said, the reason we have become so close, their organization and ours, is that they actually are committed not just to winning games, not just to financial gain. It’s a business, right; but also to developing these young men. And I’ve got to tell you, this is an extraordinary opportunity for them to develop as young men.”
By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor - @JESchott19
The USA Men’s Basketball team beat Puerto Rico 112-86 in their second exhibition game at Madison Square Garden on Friday night, and it was closer than the final score.
Puerto Rico played the U.S. even in the first quarter, with the score tied at 24, and were down just 5, at 52-47, at halftime.
The third quarter is when the U.S. ran away with it. They opened the third on a 14-2 run capped by an Antony Davis three-point play that made it 66-49 with 6:00 left. They built that lead up to 21, at 79-58 on a Demarcus Cousins tip-in with 2:44 left, and led 87-67 at the end of the third.
The U.S. lead got to as high as 30 points, at 110-80, on a Kyrie Irving driving lay-up with 2:39 left. Their final basket came on a dunk on a breakaway by Nets center Mason Plumlee with 18.6 seconds left that made it 112-86, which was the final.
The U.S. was led by point guard Stephen Curry, who had 20 points on 6-for-7 shooting, inlcuding 4-for-5 on three-pointers, and 4 assists, in 18 minutes of play. Six other U.S. players scored in double figures, James Harden and Rudy Gay had 13 points each, Kenneth Faried and Klay Thompson each had 12, Kyrie Irving had 11 and Anthony Davis had 10 points.
Puerto Rico was led by point guard Jose Juan Barea (known as J.J. in the NBA) of the Minnesota Timberwolves, who had 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. Carlos Arroyo, who used to play for the Miami Heat and now plays for Galatasaray Liv Hospital in Turkey, had 15 points on 4-for-9 from the field, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists. Center Ricardo Sanchez had 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting. Renaldo Balkman, who used to play for the Knicks and currently is a member of Capitanes de Arecibo in Puerto Rico, had 7 points (2-7 FG), 2 rebounds and 1 assist in 20 minutes.
USA Men’s Basketball Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski said of the game, “We got a lot out of tonight’s game. Puerto Rico did a great job, they’ve very well coached. They have really good offensive concepts and their guards are veteran guards. We tried to do too much blitzing, not gambling, but trapping, and they’re just too good, and so they spread us out and got end-of-clock shots and second rebounds. We sucked a little bit differently in the first half than we have the first two ballgames. Second half I thought we played really, really well.
“It’s a different day today. We’re getting ready to leave tomorrow, have to come up with 12 guys tomorrow, so there’s a lot going on. I’m proud of my guys, especially in the second half that they were able to put the correct focus in and we got some great stuff from it. We appreciate the support of the New York fans these two games, sensational crowds,” said Coach K.
Stephen Curry said of the game, “It was a game where we didn’t start off well, like Coach said, defensively was just trying to adjust to their point guards coming off a lot of screen-and-rolls, not waiting for the ball. It was a good test for us to deal with a little adversity, things not going our way in the first half and finding a way to be mentally focused in the second half and get the job done. Not every game’s gonna be pretty when we get to Spain. This is a good test for us, good experience for everybody on this roster, and just glad we got the win and we can look forward to our travel day.”
Coach K said of the team’s chemistry, “Once we get down to 12, we can create a good rotation, guys know what to expect.”
On how many players he will bring to Spain out of the 16 currently on the roster, Coach K said, “We’re going to try to go with 12. We’re gonna go back now, just like we have after every practice, every game, and put our names on the board, see where we’re at, and in the morning, talk to the guys who aren’t going to go forward. We feel that it’s better to go with 12 because it’s really difficult on anyone who isn’t going to be on the team to travel that far. At any time, before the competition starts, if there was an injury or family emergency, we can call one of these guys too. That’s what we really will say to one of these guys going forward.”
The 12 members of the official 2014 USA Basketball World Cup Team were named a few hours after the game ended, and they are: DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings); Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors); Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans); DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors); Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons); Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets); Rudy Gay (Sacramento Kings); James Harden (Houston Rockets);Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers); Mason Plumlee (Brooklyn Nets); Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls); and Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors). The four that did not make the cut were Chandler Parsons of the Dallas Mavericks, Kyle Korver of the Atlanta Hawks, Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz, and Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers.
On who will be the starting point guard for their first game in Spain against Slovenia, Coach K said, “We’ll determine that, that’s gonna be one of the big meetings on the plane. My feeling is that Kyrie (Irving), we have to see how Derrick (Rose) reacts to tonight, I thought both of those guys looked really good and then we played them together too, and he (Rose) didn’t play bad at point guard for us either, so we have some depth on that.”
By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor - @JESchott19
The New York-Penn League All-Star Game was held on Tuesday night at the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, MCU Park on Coney Island.
The Cyclones had six All-Stars: Shane Bay, their lefthanded closer who has 13 saves; Michael Bernal, a right fielder with 5 home runs and 30 RBIs; Marcos Molina, a starting pitcher with a 6-2 record and a 1.58 ERA in 10 starts this season; Corey Oswalt, a righthanded starter with a 6-1 record and a 2.26 ERA in 10 games, 9 of which were starts; Amed Rosario, an 18-year old shortstop who is hitting .286 with 36 runs scored, 14 extra base hits, and 19 RBI, ranked third in the NYPL with 66 hits and tied for the league lead in triples with 5; Jhoan Urena, a 19-year old third baseman who leads the NYPL in hits, at-bats, games played, and ranks fifth with 38 runs batted in, and has three separate 10-plus game hitting streaks, and the only other Cyclone to have two 10-plus game hitting streaks was Angel Pagan in 2001.
The game ended in a 1-1 tie as they did not play extra innings. The North got a run in the top of the fifth on an RBI hit from Nick Tanielu of the Tri-City Valley Cats. The South, the team comprising the Cyclones, tied it in the bottom of the seventh on an RBI from Derek Campbell of the Williamsport Crosscutters. The game was a snooze, as there was no energy in the crowd probably due to there being very little offense in the game. It certainly did not have an All-Star feel to it.
How the Cyclones did in the game: Marcos Molina started for the South, and pitched a scoreless first inning in which he struck out two and allowed a single. Corey Oswalt pitched the fourth and allowed no runs on two hits and struck out one.Shane Bay pitched 1/3 of an inning, and got the last out in the ninth. In the field, shortstop Amed Rosario started, batted 2nd and went 0-for-2, third baseman Jhoan Urena went 0-for-2, and right fielder Michael Bernal struck out in his only plate appearance.
There was a celebrity softball game to open the festivities at 6:00. The celebs were divided into Team Scotto, named for FOX 5′s Rosanna Scotto, and Team Franco, named for Mets legend and Brooklyn native John Franco. Other celebrities taking part included Scotto’s Good Day New York co-anchor Greg Kelly, Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton from WFAN’s Boomer and Carton, FOX 5 sports anchor Duke Castiglione, PIX 11 sports anchor Scott Stanford, “The Sopranos” actor Steve Schirripa, former Major League Baseball pitcher John Halama, and Brooklyn boxing champion Paulie Malignaggi.
By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor - @JESchott19
The New York Liberty won their season finale over the Indiana Fever, 73-61, on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden. The Liberty were eliminted from the playoffs on Friday night and missed the playoffs, finishing with a record of 15-19.
The Atlanta Dream finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference at 19-14, followed by Indiana and the Washington Mystics at 16-18. The Chicago Sky finished with the same record as the Liberty, but lost the tie-breakers, as Chicago was 4-0 against the Liberty and had a conference record of 14-8 compared to New York’s 10-12.
In the 12-team WNBA, only three teams finished above .500: The Phoenix Mercury tied the best-ever record in WNBA history at 29-5, followed by the Minnesota Lynx at 25-9, and Atlanta at 19-14.
Liberty center Tina Charles averaged 17.8 points and 9.6 rebounds per game this season, followed by guard Cappie Pondexter, who averaged 13.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 4.0 assists.
In the season finale on Sunday night, Liberty Head Coach Bill Laimbeer rested his starters, as Charles played just 8:32 and had 4 points and 3 rebounds, Pondexter played 19:51 and had 6 points and 4 rebounds, and point guard Anna Cruz played 19:51, but was pulled halfway through the third quarter and finished with 10 points, 3 assists, and 2 rebounds.
The Liberty were led by Plenette Pierson off the bench, who had 15 points on 3-for-6 from the field and made 9 out of 11 free-throw attempts, and had a rebound and 2 assists. They also received contributions from Shanece McKinney with 8 points and Sugar Rodgers and Charde Houston with 6 points each.
Liberty Head Coach Bill Laimbeer said of the season, “Just talked to the players about that. I thanked them for, they worked very hard this year. We had our moments where we didn’t show up for a half and got beat up, but overall, in practice and games, I thought our effort was solid all year long, it’s night and day compared to last year. That’s something we really wanted to change was the culture of how we played, how hard we played, every game. That was a big positive for us.
“I think the message that I tried to hammer home exclusively was the value of two points. They know, we all know, and the players in that locker room know, the value of two points, every possession, every quarter, every half, every game, and they know that throughout the course of a season, they can look back at themselves and as a group and realize the opportunity missed.
“We were one game out of second, pretty strange. So, it just hammers home the point that, you know, every possession matters, and that’s something they didn’t have this year from the start, and it’s an acquired trait in many ways for teams because when you get beat or you miss opportunities, you have to learn from those opportunities and I hope they did. If they learned from this opportunity this year, then come next year, every possession will be more important. They won’t throw a casual turnover, they won’t ‘not box out.’ All those little things that add up to a quality team we’re learning.
“I will say that one of the catalysts of us learning better was Swin Cash, acquiring Swin Cash. She plays hard, she plays smart, and she helps lead. I think if we had her from the start of the year, I think we’d have a much better record, may even be in first place. We tried to get her (before the season), but we got her midseason. I thought she was a fine addition to this ballclub and she helped us down the stretch.”
Anna Cruz, the point guard from Spain, was one surprise the Liberty had this year. Cruz averaged 7.6 points, 3.6 assists, and 3.5 rebounds in 27,2 minutes per game this season. this season.
Laimbeer said of Cruz, “I have a very good relationship with her agent and he made it very clear to me that this player was my type of player, that she would play hard all the time, she’s gritty, she plays through injury, gets back up, she doesn’t stop. He emphasized to me numerous times that he believed she would be a good player for us. She actually sent me a video of herself that she put together.
“In watching her, I could see things that could help us, but you never know until you get them in camp. The very first day of camp, we were looking at our roster going, ‘our guards, what are we gonna do about the lead guard?’ Cappie (Pondexter) hasn’t practiced, she only practiced one day, and I planned to have her as lead guard. Anna practiced one day, and the staff looked at each other and went ‘that’s our starting lead guard’ on the first day. You could see she’s a mature woman, she’s 28 years old, she’s played in all the best leagues in the world. Now that she had a chance, she wanted to play in the best league in the WNBA. We all know she’s a crowd favorite, she plays haaaaarrrrrrddddd! Hounds the ball, and they root for her, her teammates root for her, solid teammate.”
By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor – @JESchott19 Showcase photo- Stephen Strasburg makes Lucas Duda’s knees buckle taking a strike
The Washington Nationals completed their sweep of the Mets with a 4-1 win on Thursday night. Washington has won all six games they have played at Citi Field this year and their last 11 overall. The Mets now trail first-place Washington by 10 1/2 games in the National League East.
Mets Manager Terry Collins said of the Nationals’ success here this season, “Well, we’re a little disappointed with how we played here, no question. We played them good in Washington, and we played them good here, they just outplayed us. The whole difference is we can’t keep the ball in the park and we can’t hit them out – that’s the story of this series for sure.”
Mets captain David Wright said of the series, “All series are big, and we just got outplayed, outpitched, outhit. They played much better baseball than we did these last three days. That’s what happens, you get swept when every facet of the game is played by the other team.”
Stephen Strasburg threw a gem for the Nationals, as he went 7 innings, and allowed just one run on 3 hits and 2 walks and he struck out 8.
Wright said of Strasburg, “Very good. We hadn’t seen him since opening day, and he was very good, threw three or four pitches for strikes in any count and when you can back that up with a 97 mile-per-hour fastball, that makes for a long day offensively when you’re throwing all those pitches for strikes.”
The Nationals got on the board against Mets starter Dillon Gee early. Adam LaRoche hit a two-run opposite-field home run to left center field to give the Nationals a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
The Nationals added to that in the fourth when Bryce Harper hit a two-run homer to the back of the bullpen in right field to make it 4-0 Washington.
The Mets responded in the bottom of the fourth, as Daniel Murphy got on with a single and reached second on an error and stole third base. He was at third with one out for Lucas Duda, who hit one very deep to center field that was caught by Washington’s Denard Span in front of the fence. It was good enough for a sacrifice fly to score Murphy and make it 4-1 Washington.
Duda would hit another drive deep to center to open the 7th inning, and once again, Span would haul it in on the warning track.
Curtis Granderson launched one down the line in right field in the eighth that was caught by Michael A. Taylor in front of the fence to end the inning. At that point, the Mets fans started to head for the exits in droves, which was mystifying for two reasons: it was only 9:40 and the Mets had the 2, 3, and 4 hitters in their lineup coming up in the ninth down just three runs.
Washington closer Rafael Soriano made quick work of the Mets, as he got Daniel Murphy to ground out to second base, David Wright to pop out to shortstop, and Lucas Duda to ground one to second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera, who was playing on the right field grass in the shift, but still threw out Duda easily.
Dillon Gee took the loss for the Mets and fell to 4-5 on the season. He went 6 innings and allowed 4 runs on 4 hits and 4 walks and struck out 3.
Collins said of Gee’s outing, “The part that hurts Dillon more than the home runs are the base on balls. This guy does not walk people when he’s pitching well. I was telling Dan (Warthen, Mets pitching coach) during the game that, I’ll bet you we can go back and look in the last ten games, there’s been six or seven times where we’ve walked a guy and then same thing, somebody hits a two-run homer, that we’ve gotta stop. Solo homers tell a story, Catfish Hunter gave up a lot of home runs, but nobody was on base. That’s what’s killing us.”
I asked Collins if it was strange to see Gee at 70 pitches in the fourth inning, and he said, “Yeah, it’s very strange, I mean both he and Jon Niese, you look at when they’re on, you’re talking about being in the seventh inning with 7o pitches. So, therefore, it tells you he’s not commanding his stuff, he’s getting into deep counts. We had seven base on balls tonight, and I think Dillon had four or five of them (it was four). He just doesn’t walk guys, and when you’re looking at that, that just means today the command of his pitches wasn’t there.”
Gee said of the home run in the first inning, “It was tough, but a lot of ballgame left at that point. I was more upset about the second one, but that’s what happens. I walked too many guys and that’s what hurt me.”
On walking too many batters, Gee said, “It’s just the way it is. It’s been on and off, and I’ll just keep working on it, nothing really I can pinpoint that’s making it a problem.”
Gee said of how it feels that LaRoche’s homer barely cleared the fence and three long drives by the Mets (two by Duda, one by Granderson fell short, “I wouldn’t say it barely got out, he went to the deep part of the park, he hit that really well, you say it barely got out, but he hit that ball well, and our guys hit those balls deep too, but that’s just kind of the way it’s going right now, it’s frustrating, but we have to just keep plugging ahead.”
The Mets open a four-game series with the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field on Friday night.