Saturday, February 16, 2019

Books: On American History

On this President's Day weekend, it's time to take a look back at our history and who made us the country we are today with these books: Winter War by Eric Rauchway; John Marshall: The Man Who Made The Supreme Court by Richard Brookhiser; Behold, America by Sarah Churchwell;  The Rise of Andrew Jackson by David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler; and A Nation Forged by Crisis by Jay Sexton.

Yankees' Sabathia Announces 2019 Will Be His Last Season

CC Sabathia. @Yankees.

Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia confirmed that 2019 would mark his final Major League season at a press conference at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa on Saturday afternoon surrounded by his family and teammates.

"This is it. This is the final year," Sabathia said, adding, "all I ever wanted is for people to remember me as a good teammate."

Friday, February 15, 2019

Yankees Sign Severino To New Deal

Luis Severino. @Yankees.

The Yankees made a major investment in one of their homegrown players, a pitcher who has proven to be an ace the past couple seasons.

The Yankees have signed RHP Luis Severino to a four-year contract extending through the 2022 season, with a club option for the 2023 season, it was announced on Friday.

St. John's Mullin, Heron, & Clark Ahead Of Villanova Matchup

Chris Mullin. Photo by Jason Schott.

The St. John's Red Storm will be facing their toughest test of the season Sunday evening at Madison Square Garden when they take on defending national champion Villanova.

St. John's is coming off an overtime win against Butler on Tuesday night, and they are in a tie for third place in the Big East with Seton Hall, as both have 6-6 conference records.

Villanova is in first place in the Big East with a conference record of 11-1. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Seton Hall Smothers Georgetown

Michael Nzei takes a free throw with teammates looking on. Photo by Jason Schott.

Seton Hall had one of their best performances of the season, as they thoroughly dominated Georgetown, 90-75, on Wednesday night at Prudential Center.

The win puts the Pirates in a tie for third place in the Big East with St. John's, with both teams holding 6-6 conference records. Georgetown fell to 5-7 in the Big East and they are in a three-way tie for fifth with DePaul and Butler.

Boone: Sanchez Has "A real hunger to go out and show the world what a good player he is"

Gary Sanchez. @Yankees

One focus for the Yankees as they enter spring training will be on the growth of one of their prized young players, catcher Gary Sanchez.

Sanchez burst on the scene in 2016, had a strong year at the plate the following season, but had a tough 2018 in which he played only 89 games due to injury and saw his average dip to .189, with 18 home runs and 53 RBI.

Boone: Yankees Have To "Go deliver on what we believe is a really good club"

Aaron Boone. Photo by Jason Schott.

Yankees Manager Aaron Boone addressed the media on Wednesday afternoon as spring training in Tampa commenced with the arrival of pitchers and catchers.

Boone enters his second season at the helm after winning 100 games last season as a rookie manager. The Yankees beat Oakland in the Wild Card Playoff game before falling to Boston in the Division Series.

Ponds Named To Midseason Team For Citizen Naismith Trophy

Shamorie Ponds. @StJohnsBball.

St. John's junior point guard Shamorie Ponds has earned the latest in a long line of national recognitions this season, earning a spot on the midseason team for the Citizen Naismith Trophy, it was announced Wednesday morning.

Yankees Invite Diehl & Stephan To Spring Training

Yankee Stadium. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Yankees have invited a pair of pitchers, left-hander Phillip Diehl (No. 82) and right-hander Trevor Stephan (No. 81) to Major League spring training.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

St. John's Bops Butler In OT

Mustapha Heron. @StJohnsBball.

St. John's won a thriller over Butler, 77-73, in overtime on Tuesday night at Carnesecca Arena.

This was a huge win for St. John's, as they bounced back from a tough loss to Providence on Saturday and their Big East record returns to .500 at 6-6.

Red Bulls Complete Transfer For U-19 Denmark National Team Forward Jørgensen

Provided by Red Bulls.

The Red Bulls have completed the transfer of U-19 Denmark National Team forward Mathias Jørgensen from Odense Boldklub using Targeted Allocation Money, and signed him to a multi-year MLS contract.

Jørgensen, 18, will be added to the roster pending receipt of his ITC and P-1 Visa, becoming New York's youngest rostered first-team player in 2019. Additional details of the transfer and contract were not disclosed.

Alfonzo Returns As Cyclones Manager

Edgardo Alfonzo.

Mets icon Edgardo Alfonzo, will return as manager for the 2019 season, his sixth year with the Cyclones organization and third as manager. “Fonzie” will be joined on the bench by hitting coach Delwyn Young, pitching coach Josué Matos and coach Endy Chávez.

Chávez is known for authoring one of the best moments in Mets history when he reached over the left field fence to rob Scott Rolen of a grand slam in the seventh game of the 2006 NLCS. This will be his first season as a coach.

Books: "Trigger" Concludes Frank Marr Trilogy

Trigger: A Frank Marr Novel
By David Swinson
Mulholland; hardcover, $27.00; available Tuesday, February 12

Frankie Marr returns in all his jittery, mordant brilliance, as he has kicked his addiction to cocaine, but he's drinking more, and he has lost the woman he's crazy about. The one thing that hasn't changed is how he moves through the nation's capital, balancing accounts his way.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Books: "Killer Thriller" By Lee Goldberg

Killer Thriller
By Lee Goldberg
Thomas & Mercer; 288 pages, hardcover; $24.95; available Tuesday, February 12

Lee Goldberg, the author of more than thirty bestselling novels,  introduced his new series featuring acclaimed author and reluctant hero Ian Ludlow in last year's critically acclaimed True Fiction.

Books: "How To Disappear" In A Very Public Age

How To Disappear: Notes on Invisibility in a time of Transparency
By Akiko Busch
Penguin Press; 224 pages, hardcover; $26.00; available Tuesday, February 12

In an era in which people are on social media constantly sharing pictures and what they're thinking at any given moment. We are encouraged to reveal, share, and promote ourselves, and that pressure does not just come just from our peers, but from vast and pervasive technology companies that want to profit from patterns in our behavior.

St. John's Ponds Named To Big East Honor Roll


St. John's point guard Shamorie Ponds averaged 24.0 points per game in a 1-1 week for his team, and on Monday, he was named to the Big East Weekly Honor Roll for the seventh time this season.

Red Bull Arena Upgrades Include New Video Board

Provided by the Red Bulls.

The Red Bulls have announced several arena enhancements aimed at significantly improving fan experience at Red Bull Arena for the 2019 season.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Books: Take A Trip to Renaissance Italy With "The Chef's Secret"

The Chef's Secret
By Crystal King
Atria; paperback; $15.99; available Tuesday, February 12

Bartolomeo Scappi is a name that appears often in the archives of Italian cuisine, but not much is actually known about the life of the legendary chef who served the papacy and authored one of the bestselling cookbooks of all time. From a meatless holiday meal to a hearty one, he created over 1,000 recipes, most of which are staples of our diets today.

Books: "The Secretary" By Renee Knight

The Secretary
By Renee Knight
Harper; 368 pages, hardcover; $26.99; available Tuesday, February 12

Renée Knight’s 2015 debut Disclaimer made her an international phenom across the thriller and suspense genre, and rights to the book were sold in 31 countries and it was optioned for film by Fox Searchlight.

Knight's new novel, The Secretary, is a chilling psychological tale of power, devotion and betrayal.

St. John's Stunned By Providence; Seton Hall Survives Creighton

Tip off between Seton Hall and Creighton Saturday night. Photo by Jason Schott.

Saturday was a pivotal day for the Big East locals, as St. John's was dominated down the stretch in a 70-86 loss to Providence at Madison Square Garden in the afternoon, while Seton Hall survived a late late charge from Creighton to pull out a 63-58 victory at the Prudential Center.

The results leave both teams with 5-6 records in Big East Conference play, two of five teams tied for third place, along with Georgetown, DePaul, and Butler. Villanova (10-1) and Marquette (9-2) are secured in the top two spots.

Friday, February 8, 2019

NYCFC Names Alex Ring Its New Captain

Alex Ring wearing the captain's armband. Courtesy NYCFC.

New York City Football Club has named midfielder Alex Ring its new Captain with the departure of David Villa, who had the captaincy since the team's inception since 2015.

The midfielder from Finland has worn the armband on various occasions over the past two seasons and will take the captaincy on a permanent basis moving forward for NYCFC.

Books: "Building the Nation" On US Wars In Iraq & Afghanistan

Building the Nation: Missed Opportunities in Iraq and Afghanistan
By Heather Selma Gregg
Potomac Books; hardcover, 304 pages; $29.95

As the United States nears an agreement with the Taliban to end the war in Afghanistan, which began in 2001, it's time to look at what the future could hold for that country and Iraq.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

A Look At New Mets Analytics Guru Carleton's Book "The Shift"

The Mets have hired Russell Carleton, a longtime Baseball Prospectus writer, and Andrew Perpetua, a researcher, to work in their analytics department.

Carleton recently wrote a book, The Shift, on how baseball strategy has changed, giving a look into his mind and what he will bring to the Mets as they expand their analytics research. Below is my review from last April:

The Shift: The Next Evolution In Baseball Thinking
By Russell A. Carleton
Triumph Books; paperback, 368 pages; $19.95

Baseball has always been a game of numbers. Mention Joe DiMaggio’s 56, Hank Aaron’s 755, and Cal Ripken Jr.’s 2,632 to avid baseball fans, and they will know instantly you're referring to how many hits Joe D. had in a row, Aaron's career home run record, and Ripken's consecutive game streak.
For generations, fans have held these numbers up as touchpoints that transcend the national pastime and act as cultural markers of greatness. Sometimes, the numbers themselves tell the story with no other explanation needed. But what if that story turns out to be fiction?
Russell Carleton, a psychologist, baseball writer researcher, and fan living in Atlanta, examines the new numbers changing the way we play and think about our game in The Shift: The Next Evolution in Baseball Thinking.
Carleton,  who is definitely a ”numbers guy, ” has been a regular contributor to Baseball Prospectus since 2009, writing about advanced statistical analysis in baseball, with an emphasis on the gory mathematical details. He holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from DePaul University in Chicago, and has provided statistical consultation to several teams in Major League Baseball.
Using an engaging and accessible style, Carleton breaks down not only the role of sabermetrics in evaluating how to build a winning team but also how the numbers can illuminate, rather than ignore, the human element of the game.
Carleton writes of how much you can analyze this game, "Baseball is a game. Games create their own ecosystems. Over time, all ecosystems change, even if we don't want them to.
"There's a lot of downtime in baseball, which means that there's a lot of time for incubating the tiny mutations that can shape the game. It takes three hours to play one game and six months of nearly daily installments to play a whole season. There's a lot of time to think, not just between each pitch, but night after night and plane ride after plane ride. A baseball season is more like a six-month mantra. There are a thousand little things that can happen over and over again, and you can pick any one of them to fixate on as you meditate. You can think about the implications of throwing a fastball vs. a curveball in a thousand different situations, and it's not entirely academic to obsess about it. The pitchers on your team have to make that decision a thousand times in the space of a week, the same way that they had to the week before and the week before that. A game and even a season could turn on any of those pitches.
"Baseball is a thinking game. Maybe it's even an obsessing game. It is most certainly a shifting game."
While Carleton focuses on an overall strategy change in baseball, to title this book The Shift was a smart idea because it is something largely driven by numbers.
Something that was unique to start has now evolved to the point where it is employed  by teams quite often. At this point, fans anticipate seeing infielders move around to defend pull hitters like Aaron Judge of the Yankees or Jay Bruce of the Mets.
Highlights include a thoughtful foreword from baseball writer Jeff Passan praising Carleton’s ability to bridge the gap between analytics and the human element; how Wins Above Replacement conquered baseball statistics by asking a better question; how to build the perfect team, even if you don’t have the perfect players; a thorough analysis of why everyone might have gotten the defensive infield shift wrong; measuring the intangibles that separate great managers from the ones who are just pushing buttons.
Carleton writes of seeing the shift in action on Memorial Day in 2014 at  when David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox came to bat against the Atlanta Braves game and what went through his mind, "If there's one thing that David Ortiz did that most changed the game of baseball, it might have just been that he was left-handed. It was well-known during Ortiz's career that he was a pull hitter, especially when he hit the ball on the ground. In fact, his pull tendencies were so well-known that in the mid-2000s, teams would routinely shift their infield-defense when he came to the plate. Instead of lining up in a traditional formation with two infielders to the right of second base and two to the left of second base, Ortiz would often see three infielders on the right side of the infield, while the lone left-sided infielder would play in the space normally occupied by the shortstop.
"It made sense. If Ortiz was going to hit his ground balls mostly to the right side, why not put an extra defender over there? This Sicilian defense had originally been deployed in the 1940s on another iconic left-handed Red Sox hitter, Ted Williams, but it left and obvious hole. The third-base line was completely unguarded. The nearest defender was playing 40 feet off the chalk. A ground ball hit anywhere near the line would have no trouble scooting through to left field for a hit. In fact, even if it didn't make it out of the infield, by the time a fielder got to it, even the slow-hoofed Ortiz would have  been standing on first, the proud owner of a single. Everyone in the ballpark, including Ortiz himself, could see that.
"So as David Ortiz strode to bat on this memorable Memorial Day in Atlanta and saw that once again, no one was bothering with the third-base line, my father leaned over to me and asked a question that had probably occurred to everyone else in the ballpark. 'Why doesn't he just bunt?'
"'Why doesn't he just bunt?' is the kind of question that seems easy to answer, but isn't. It's a good exercise in thinking a question all the way through. The most commonly given answer was that Ortiz was a power hitter paid to hit home runs, something that he did 541 times over his career. Bunting was for the weak. Bunting was something that pitchers did when they had to bat. No matter what else bunting meant, ordering Ortiz to drop a little tapper toward third meant that he wouldn't be hitting a home run in that plate appearance.
There's a bit of masculine pride on the line. Most baseball players grew up in a culture where the 'good players' were the ones who hit a lot of home runs. Even more than that, they grew up in a culture where masculinity is intimately linked to physical strength. A home run is a feat of might. A well-executed bunt might travel 60 feet and is a feat of restraint. Perhaps it was as simple as that?...
"There was plenty of initial resistance to the shift for the same reason that there's opposition to any shift in thinking: it was weird. Pitchers grew up in a world where defense lined up in a two left-two right formation. Consciously and unconsciously, over years of repetition, they had tailored their strategies to this set of assumptions. Sure, teams had a long history of moving their fielders a jump to the left or a step to the right depending on the hitter, but moving a fielder 30 or 40 feet is a very different proposition.
"There was psychological resistance too. Loss aversion rears its head again. The shift inevitably produces a ground ball hit directly at a fielder who is playing in an odd place. It would have been a base hit if the team had lined up in a traditional formation, but with the shift on, it's an out. Success! The problem is that the shift also produces a few ground balls that scoot through into left field exactly past the place where the third baseman would 'normally' have been playing. Mathematically, as long as the shift is producing more outs-that-would-have-been-hits than it does hits-that-would-have-been-outs, then it's a net winner. Unfortunately, that's not how the human mind works. Humans are more disturbed by 'losing' an out that they have had than they are by gaining one that they otherwise would have gotten. The shift felt icky, but baseball eventually embraced it."
A love letter written to baseball in the margins of a statistics textbook, The Shift combines Carleton’s scientific approach with his reverence and passion for the poetic majesty of the game.
"Finding the places where the individual ends and the team begins in baseball is trickier than it is in other sports," writes Carleton. "On a baseball team, 25 grown men must learn to play a game together, even though most of the time they are only minimally interacting with one another. In sports where any of the players can score at any time, one or two players can carry the load. In baseball, the lineup dictates who will bat next and the calendar determines the day's starter. Anyone, however, might be thrust into a key situation. Everyone has to be ready. Baseball is a very democratic sport."
The Shift is equal parts Moneyball and Malcolm Gladwell. Through Carleton's storytelling, with humor and clarity, this great new title has the power to make baseball nerds race to grab some hot dogs in the nosebleeds while transforming bleacher bums into statisticians.
Students of baseball history, who love the game and appreciate its evolution, will find a lot of value in this game-changing new work.

St. John's Mullin On His Team After A Strong Road Trip

Chris Mullin.

St. John’s Head Coach Chris Mullin took part in the Big East Conference coaches' teleconference on Thursday morning, and spoke about the state of his team after a big win over #10 Marquette on Tuesday night.

That capped a 2-1 road trip for the Red Storm, and they are now 5-5 in conference play (17-6 overall), and they start a three-game homestand Saturday at noon at Madison Square Garden against Providence.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Books: "Lords Of The Desert" On The U.S. & Britain In The Mideast

Lords Of The Desert: The Battle Between the United States and Great Britain for Supremacy in the Modern Middle East
By James Barr
Basic Books; hardcover, 464 pages; $35.00

The United States has been involved in battles in the Middle East for decades, from Desert Storm to the second Iraq war that began in 2003, to the current battle with ISIS.

America has always played a major role, but before the US came to dominate, Great Britain largely was in control. 

Andrea Bartz On Her Debut Novel "The Lost Night"

Andrea Bartz. Photo by Kate Lord.

Andrea Bartz, a journalist and essayist from Brooklyn, coauthored the blog and book Stuff Hipsters Hate in 2010. Her debut novel, The Lost Night, which is set in Williamsburg, is coming out on February 26, published by Crown.

She will be appearing at Books Are Magic (225 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231,, 718-246-2665) on March 1 at 7:30 p.m. in a discussion with fellow author Jason Diamond.

St. John's Stuns Marquette

Shamorie Ponds with the game-winning layup. @StJohnsBball.

The St. John's Red Storm stunned Marquette, the 10th-ranked team in the nation, 70-69, on Tuesday night, giving them two big victories on this three-game road trip.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Books: "The Stranger Inside" By Laura Benedict

The Stranger Inside
By Laura Benedict
Mulholland Books; hardcover; $27.00; available today, February 5

What would you do if you came home to find a stranger living inside your house? That's the question that Laura Benedict, an Edgar- and Thriller Award-nominated author, asks in her psychological drama The Stranger Inside.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Books: Roger McNamee's "Zucked" On Facebook

Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe
By Roger McNamee
Penguin Press; hardcover; $28.00; available Tuesday, February 5

One of the biggest stories of 2018 was how the dark side of Facebook exposed, with questions about what they do with their users' data and how much can you trust the information on their newsfeed.

Yankees Invite 21 Non-Roster Players To Spring Training

The Yankees announced have invited 21 non-roster players to 2019 Major League Spring Training, which starts in just about a week.

The biggest name that stands out is Danny Farquhar, who is attempting a comeback after he suffered a brain hemorrhage from a ruptured aneurysm in the bullpen in the sixth inning of a game between his Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros April 20, 2018 vs. Houston. The following day, he underwent successful surgery to address the aneurysm, but was not medically released to pitch again in a competitive game during the 2018 season.

Books: New Novels From Mary Adkins, Liz Lawler, & Roberto Bolano

There are three creative, thrilling, and thoughtful novels being released this week: When You Read This by Mary Adkins; Don't Wake Up by Liz Lawler; and The Spirit of Science Fiction by Roberto Bolano.

NYCFC Signs Alexandru Mitriță


New York City FC announced on Monday morning that Alexandru Mitriță has joined the team as a Designated Player on a permanent transfer from Romanian Liga I club Universitatea Craiova pending receipt of ITC/Visa.

The 23-year-old Romanian international, who can play as an attacking midfielder, winger or forward, is NYCFC’s third designated player and has signed a multi-year contract. He has traveled to Abu Dhabi and is now with the squad for preseason.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Patriots Win Greatest Defensive Battle Ever

Rob Gronkowski making a big catch. @Patriots.

The New England Patriots outlasted the Los Angeles Rams, 13-3, in Super Bowl LIII, possibly the greatest defensive battle of all-time.

This is the Patriots' sixth championship in 18 years, and their third title in the past five seasons. Head Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have been there for all of them, adding to their NFL record. 

Saturday, February 2, 2019

St. John's Demolished By Duke

Zion Williamson slams one home. @DukeMBB.

The Duke Blue Devils put on a clinic on Saturday afternoon as they took care of St. John's, 91-61, at Cameron Indoor Stadium

Duke, the second-ranked team in the country, was led by Zion Williamson, who had 29 points on a superb 13-17 from the field, with most of his baskets coming via the dunk and including a three-pointer. The potential number-one pick in the NBA Draft also had 6 rebounds, 5 steals, and 2 blocks.