<![CDATA[NBC New York - Sports]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Sat, 10 Oct 2015 03:22:27 -0400 Sat, 10 Oct 2015 03:22:27 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Revis May Be Immortal, But Ivory Most Important Jet]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 12:53:45 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Chris-Ivory-Dolphins-Wembley-1004.jpg

With the NFL now more than ever a quarterback’s league, the running back position has been devalued to the point where RBs have been relegated to serving drinks on the team plane -- and carrying the long snapper’s bags. Running back has become a disposable slot, with the days of the workhorse largely over as teams shuffle backs in and out of lineups -- and on and off rosters -- that they’re often gone before you’ve even gotten the chance to know their names.

And yet, who is more indispensable to the Jets than Chris Ivory? Darrelle Revis is almost indisputably Gang Green’s best player, but even without him, they’d be loaded in the defensive backfield. Muhammad Wilkerson has been a force, but the team’s top d-lineman, Sheldon Richardson, is rejoining the unit for next week’s game vs. Washington.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is an able QB, but even Geno Smith could win with the Jets’ dominating D on the other side of the ball and Ivory in his backfield.

Through the first quarter of the 2015 season, Ivory ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing -- even though he missed a game with a quad injury. He’s averaging 5 yards per carry, which is especially impressive since so many of his runs go right up the middle, into the teeth of opposing defenses.

But with Ivory, it’s about so much more than the numbers. First of all, it’s how far he’s come. The sixth-year back was undrafted out of tiny Tiffin College (whose archrival, I believe, was Faber College, although I’m not sure either school actually fields a football team) in 2010, even though he ran a sub-4.5 40 at 222 lbs. at that year’s NFL Scouting Combine. Yet as a rookie, he led the New Orleans Saints in rushing.

However, as has always been the case with Ivory, the Saints didn’t think he was good enough and brought in other RBs over the next few years to take on much of the load while shunting the admittedly oft-injured Ivory to the side.

During the 2013 draft, ex-GM John Idzik dealt a fourth-round pick for Ivory, who came to the Jets with just 256 career carries under his belt. Idzik was much-maligned during his tenure, although probably not as much as he deserved. But the Ivory trade was a stroke of genius.

Naturally, Ivory led the Jets in rushing in his first season in New York, and naturally, the Jets brought in a new #1 RB the following season - -former 2,000-yard man Chris Johnson. And yes, naturally, Ivory was better.

In fact, Ivory is better than just about every running back in the league. Really. He punishes opponents with his battering-ram style, and carves out solid gains in situations where no other RB - even Adrian Peterson -- could.

The great Peterson and other top backs go through the holes their offensive lines create. Ivory makes his own holes.

When the Jets allow Ivory to be a workhorse, they’re simply a different team. A better team. A playoff-contending team. Maybe someone should be carrying his bags.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Colbert Condemns Cubs-Cursing Goats]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 11:26:24 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP763373860260.jpg

Stephen Colbert isn’t afraid of billy goats anymore – not after the Chicago Cubs' wild card win on Wednesday.

In fact, the “Late Show” host, who lived in Chicago for 11 years, is so inspired by the Cubs, he went on a rant against goats Thursday night, even going as far as kicking one out of his studio.

“I’m not scared of you knuckle-kneed sheep wannabees anymore,” he said. “Oh, that feels good. So many things I’ve wanted to say about your kind for years, but I’ve been too afraid because of the curse. Not anymore.”

He then went on to insult goat cheese and soul patch beards.

“What are you going to do about it goats? Curse the Cubs again? I dare you,” he said. “The Cubs are unstoppable.”

The infamous Billy Goat curse dates back to Oct. 6, 1945, when Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis claimed to place a curse on the Cubs to prevent them from ever hosting another World Series at Wrigley Field.

But as far as Colbert is concerned, the curse is gone.

“Now it looks like the days of the curse are behind my Cubs,” he said. “I think I can safely say without any fear of jinxing it they’re going all the way. The Cubs are going to win the World Series.”

He even made a 2015 Cubs World Series Championship T-shirt, featuring a goat.

But when one four-legged member of the audience didn’t cheer on his beloved team, Colbert decided to kick it out.

“There is no possible way this decision can come back to haunt me, or the Cubs. After all the Cubs are clearly the greatest of all time (G.O.A.T.),” he said.

He then led the audience in a G.O.A.T. chant.

Whether Colbert’s daring messages will ring true this season remains to be seen. The Chicago Cubs begin their battle against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium Friday for the National League Division Series.  

Photo Credit: File - Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
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<![CDATA[Lawsuit Filed Against DraftKings, FanDuel]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 18:42:10 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/FanDuel.jpg

Fantasy sports betting sites DraftKings and FanDuel have been hit with a federal class action lawsuit.

The suit, which lists the plaintiff as Adam Johnson, alleges DraftKings and FanDuel fraudulently misrepresent contestants’ chances of making money and the fairness of the games, don’t disclose the possibility of employees using inside information to improve their odds of winning jackpots and violate Massachusetts, New York and Kentucky consumer protection laws.

The suit seeks to order the daily fantasy sports sites to reimburse players for “all monies wrongfully obtained” and cease any deceptive advertising.

DraftKings and FanDuel told customers its employees weren't allowed to play on their sites; however, they "omitted the material fact that they were allowed to play on other sites and that other sites' employees were allowed to play on their site," according to the suit, which was filed in New York Thursday.

Wednesday, FanDuel announced it was banning all of its employees from participating on other daily fantasy sports operators' sites for money and the launch of an internal investigation following reports that a DraftKings employee may have had access to valuable data that gave the employee an unfair advantage before winning a $350,000 contest on FanDuel.

Necn’s parent company, Comcast, and sister company NBC Sports Group are among investors in FanDuel. 

Photo Credit: File--AP]]>
<![CDATA[Vin Scully to Miss 2015 Postseason]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 21:42:05 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/208*120/Vin+Scully+Out+for+Postseason.png

Just 24 hours away from Game 1 of their National League Division Series against the New York Mets, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced that a key member of their team would miss the entire postseason.

Don't worry, fans, it's not Clayton Kershaw or Zack Greinke. Instead, Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully will miss the postseason after undergoing a medical procedure on Thursday morning.

Scully missed the team's four-game series in San Francisco last week and the team's final three games at Dodger Stadium over the weekend due to an undisclosed illness. We're still not sure what the illness was or the severity of it, but apparently it did require minor surgery.

The team announced that Scully is resting comfortably at this time, and has been advised by his doctors to miss the entire 2015 postseason.

"Everyone in the Dodgers organization wishes Vin the speediest of recoveries," the team said.

Scully will return for his 67th season in 2016, and is looking forward to returning next year said the team.

In Scully's absence, Charley Steiner and Rick Monday will call the games throughout the postseason until the Dodgers are either eliminated, or win their first World Series title in 27 years.

We wish Vin a speedy recovery.

Photo Credit: File - Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Look to Continue Winning Ways Against 49ers]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 16:38:47 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/eli+manning+flex.jpg

Sunday night’s game against the 49ers is a statement game for the Giants, the statement being, “Win and prove you can beat a once-great team that has been disemboweled in the last 12 months.”

Has any franchise ever endured a more precipitous drop than San Francisco? Just two years removed from appearing in its third straight NFC Championship Game, the team has been gutted by the departure of head coach Jim Harbaugh (who couldn’t make nice with the team’s brass), the sudden retirements of linebackers Chris Borland and Patrick Willis, the not-so-sudden retirement of defensive end Justin Smith, and the not-so-sudden criminal exploits of defensive end Aldon Smith, who was released after multiple DUI arrests and is now plying his trade across the Bay in Oakland.

The team also lost last year’s top rusher, Frank Gore, and veteran wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who also jumped to Oakland. But Eric Mangini is still here! He was promoted from tight ends coach to defensive coordinator. And Jim Tomsula is still here! He was promoted from the guy who never had to talk in public to the head coach who reportedly farts loudly at the podium.

If you encounter 49er fans, give them a wide berth, they’re expectedly shell-shocked, having experienced a decade’s worth of turnover in the space of one calendar year.

With so much change, it’s a tough time get a read on the Niners, who last November beat the Giants 16-10 when New York was in the midst of a seven-game losing streak. San Fran still has quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who will need to have a great game running the read option against the Giants for his team to stop its three-game losing streak.

The Giants have the No. 1 run defense in the NFL, which is helped greatly by the fact the team has the worst pass defense in the league. The 49ers, meanwhile, have the lowest-scoring offense in the NFL, which is helped greatly by the fact the team has the fewest amount of points per game.
Does anyone really think the Giants have the best run defense in the league? If they can contain Kaepernick and running back Carlos Hyde, that most likely means the Niners are finding success through the air with former Raven Torrey Smith and current septuagenarian Anquan Boldin.

This 49ers defense has already surrendered more than 40 points to two teams, Pittsburgh and Arizona. Sure, they looked a bit more stalwart in holding Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to 17 points in last week’s 17-3 loss. But the Giants’ offense is starting to hit on all cylinders, with contributions from POTO – Players Other Than Odell.

In last week’s 24-10 win over Buffalo, the team got honorable work from wide receivers Dwayne Harris and Rueben Randle, and the game-changing 51-yard catch and run TD by running back Rashad Jennings.

It’s tough to see the combination of factors that would give the 49ers a victory in this game. Could Eli Manning break from his early-season form (one interception) and put the team’s defense in bad position? Sure. Could punter Brad Wing, who leads the NFL in punts inside the 20, lose his golden touch? Sure. Could the Giants’ No. 1 rush defense get exposed as a fraud? Sure. Could Kaepernick regain the form that had him kissing his biceps after big plays? I sure as hell hope not, as that’s the lamest celebration move in the league and no one this side of a 10-year-old wrestling fan wants to see it.

The Giants are tied with Dallas and Washington atop the NFC East at 2-2. Dallas has to host the Patriots this week, so that’s a loss. And Washington is still owned by Dan Snyder, so who cares what they do, they’re gonna implode eventually.

With a victory, the Giants can start taking control of the division. Last week’s victory on the road against Buffalo was a pleasant surprise. Losing to a 49ers team that is on its heels would be a stunning step backwards.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA['Let's Goat Cubs': Pittsburgh Building Owners Respond to Cubs Prank]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 11:56:04 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/258*120/cubs+prank+thumb.jpg

Looks like the owners of the Pittsburgh building that was pranked by a Cubs fan Wednesday have a sense of humor.

After Chicago fan Steve Mpistolarides walked into an office building across the street from PNC Park and quietly changed a sign that read “Let’s Go Bucs” to “Let’s Go Cubs,” the sign was changed to “Let's Goat Cubs.”

Smith Brothers Agency, an ad agency headquartered in the building, first posted a photo of their prank response on Twitter with the caption “A good prank deserves a good hex. #CurseOfTheBillyGoat #LetsGoBucs #Buctober.”

The goat was a reference to the infamous Billy Goat curse, which dates back to Oct. 6, 1945, when tavern owner Billy Sianis claimed to place a curse on the Cubs to prevent them from ever hosting another World Series at Wrigley Field.

But that didn’t faze the Mpistolarides family, who were later treated to a rooftop party, courtesy of the building’s owners.

"At first we were like I don't know, they might be setting us up for who knows what, but we said, 'Oh well, let's check it out," said Steve Mpistolarides. "Then we ended up at one of the coolest parties probably in all of Pittsburgh. They were really nice though very cordial. We had a good time."

Smith Brothers Agency shared a photo of the owners and the Mpistolarides family at their rooftop tailgate party with the caption “pregaming with the pranksters.”

“They kept telling us we were going to be bad luck,” said Steve Mpistolarides. “We said, ‘We’re the curse busters and we’re not afraid of no goat.’ We’re Greek and we’re getting rid of this curse.”

The Cubs went on to win their first postseason game in 12 years, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates by a score of 4-0.

The Mpistolarides family said the day’s events were unexpected, to say the least.

“We were doing it as a joke between us to send our friends back in Chicago,” Steve Mpistolarides said. “Next thing I know I got all kinds of I don’t know, Facebook messages, tweets and Twitters.”

Since video of the prank was first posted by Mpistolarides' son Travis, it has been viewed more than 140,000 times, he said. 

Photo Credit: Travis Mpistolarides
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<![CDATA[Are You a Mets Superfan? Take Our Quiz to Find Out!]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 12:15:21 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/mets+quiz+logo.jpg

Think you're a Mets superfan? Take our quiz and find out what kind of fan you are!

[[331254362, C]]

(If you answered 1-3 questions right you're a fairweather fan, if you got between 4 and 6 questions correct you're a bandwagon fan, if you got 7-8 answers right you're a pretty big fan, and if you answered 9-10 questions accurately, well, you're most definitely a superfan!)

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Memo to Matt Harvey: Time to Show Up And Step Up]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 10:22:59 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/matt+harvey+update.jpg

Amid the unwelcome news that CC Sabathia was headed to rehab because of his problems with alcohol, the thing that struck me most was the almost reverential words so many of the pitcher’s current and former teammates and coaches had to say about him.

Those words gave voice to what we’ve long believed: Sabathia is a great teammate, a go-to guy, a leader -- an ace.

Sabathia was an ace in Cleveland, even in his early 20s. He was an ace in Milwaukee after a mid-season trade there in 2008, seemingly taking the mound every other day -- and risking the huge payday he had on the horizon with free agency looming. He instantly became the ace in the Bronx when he joined the Yankees -- no easy feat when “core four” stalwart Andy Pettitte was still around. Maybe, just maybe, it was no coincidence that the Yanks won their first World Series title in nearly a decade in Sabathia’s inaugural season in pinstripes.

Meanwhile, earlier this week in Queens, David Wright’s words about Matt Harvey weren’t exactly reverential. In fact, the Mets captain wouldn’t even acknowledge Harvey after the hurler missed a team workout because, well, he lost track of time (and if you believe that …). Wright said he was only concerned about the guys who showed up.

Is Matt Harvey an ace? A leader? We know he loves the spotlight. But he doesn’t seem so big on doing the little things that add up to so much.

There are times when it seems like the 26-year-old right-hander is ready to take command of the Mets’ precocious pitching staff, and of the team itself -- especially when Harvey is doing the talking instead of uber-agent Scott Boras. And then there are times like the other day.

Considering how tired I am of Harvey’s myriad distractions, I can only imagine how fed up Wright and his teammates are. Actually, no need for conjecture -- Wright’s words (or lack thereof) spoke volumes.

Harvey hasn’t made big money yet, and he’s got every right to put the long-term health of his career first. And, if even for selfish reasons, Mets fans should prize that over short-term glory as well, because the pitcher has the chance to be one of the great players ever to wear the orange-and-blue.

No one is suggesting Harvey pitch on short rest or anything even remotely close to that. The fact is, the Mets don’t need him to. And, looking down the road a bit, with a potential five-man rotation of Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndegaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler shutting down opposing hitters for years to come, he won’t need to carry the team.

Harvey doesn’t need to be superman, but he does need to show up. He needs to be a leader on the staff and, eventually, with Wright not getting any younger, in the clubhouse. He needs to show the way, by words and example.

If he’s going to be a true ace, now would be a really good time to show it.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs Win Wild-Card Game]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 01:45:16 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/202*120/GettyImages-491743510.jpg

For the first time in 12 years, the Chicago Cubs have won a postseason game as they knocked off the Pittsburgh Pirates by a score of 4-0 on Wednesday night. 

Dexter Fowler and Kyle Schwarber both hit home runs, and Jake Arrieta pitched a complete game as the Cubs set up an NLDS showdown with the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday. 

The Cubs got off to a flying start in the game as Dexter Fowler laced a single to center field, and he promptly stole second base. On a 2-2 count, Kyle Schwarber muscled a ball into left field, driving in Fowler and giving Jake Arrieta a 1-0 lead before he even took the mound.

The Pirates got a two-out single from Andrew McCutchen in the bottom of the frame, but Arrieta appeared unfazed as he struck out Starling Marte on an 0-2 pitch to leave the Cubs ahead through the first inning of play.

Both pitchers breezed through the second inning, with Cole only allowing a deep fly ball to Addison Russell and Arrieta conceding a fly ball to Jordy Mercer that Fowler gloved to keep the game at 1-0 in favor of Chicago.

The score remained that way until the third inning, when Schwarber stepped up with Fowler on first base. On an inside pitch, the rookie right fielder turned on the ball and hammered a home run deep over the right field wall to give the Cubs a 3-0 lead through two and a half innings.

Arrieta cruised through the next two innings, and in the top of the fifth inning, he was given another run of support as Fowler went deep. He hammered a home run to right-center field, giving the Cubs a 4-0 cushion as Cole left the game for the Pirates.

Things got interesting in the bottom of the sixth inning as the Pirates loaded the bases with one out, but the Cubs were able to get out of the mess as Marte grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning with the visitors still up four runs.

Things got even more heated in the top of the seventh inning as Tony Watson hit Arrieta with a pitch. The benches cleared as the two teams jawed at one another, but things were eventually settled with only Sean Rodriguez getting ejected after he threw a punch at David Ross in the melee. The inning ended without incident, and the Cubs continued to lead.

The Pirates got a baserunner in the bottom of the eighth inning, but Arrieta continued his dominance as his pitch count exceeded the century mark. He struck out Josh Harrison with two outs and a runner on first to retire the Pirates and put the Cubs three outs away from victory. 

Avoiding all drama, Arrieta cruised through the ninth inning to finish the complete game. He got McCutchen on a slow ground ball back to the mound, and then forced a groundout from Marte for the second out. When Cervelli lined out to second base, the Cubs clinched their first playoff victory in 12 years, and set up a series against the Cardinals beginning on Friday. 

The series begins on Friday afternoon at 5:30 p.m., with Game 1 taking place at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs Fan Spells Out Playoff Prank]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 09:16:26 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/258*120/cubs+prank+thumb.jpg

A Chicago Cubs fan may have just pulled off the best prank ever.

Hours before the Cubs were set to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Wild Card Game at PNC Park Wednesday night, a display of hometown pride for the Pirates was transformed into Cubs pride.

Chicago fan Steve Mpistolarides went into an office building across the street from the stadium and changed a sign from “Let’s Go Bucs” to “Let’s Go Cubs," according to the Mpistolarides family. 

For those who didn't know, the Pirates are often referred to as the “Bucs.”

“So we're at a bar right next to PNC and there's an office building that reads lets go bucs,” a Facebook post from Mpistolarides' son Travis read. “My dad goes in the elevator low key to the office and switches it to let's go Cubs. Somehow nobody saw him ‪#‎wearegood‬.” 

The family even sent the photos and video to NBC Chicago to prove it.

The excitement in the air from their hometown fans must have worked for the team, as for the first time in 12 years the Chicago Cubs won a postseason game as they knocked off the Pittsburgh Pirates by a score of 4-0.

Photo Credit: Travis Mpistolarides
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<![CDATA[On Bright Side, Keuchel Just Four Years From Free Agency]]> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 11:05:39 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_229496219708.jpg

Maybe Dallas Keuchel should pitch on three days’ rest all the time. On the other hand, maybe he should only pitch against the Yankees.

Keuchel continued his dominance of the most successful franchise in pro sports history Tuesday night, surrendering just three hits -- all of them singles -- while striking out seven in six shutout innings. The lefty’s masterful performance, along with a solid turn by the bullpen and a few timely home runs, sent the Astros on to the divisional round of the playoffs -- and sent the Yanks home for the season.

Houston’s ace faced the Bronx Bombers three times in 2015, and, in a total of 22 innings, gave up nary a run. Facing elimination (of course, so were the Stros) in the one-game series, manager Joe Girardi tried to give his team a fighting chance by making the lineup less reliant than usual on left-handed hitters, against whom Keuchel is essentially unhittable.

Still, the only righties who really might’ve made a difference for the home team at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday were Mike Trout and Josh Donaldson, and, unfortunately, neither wears pinstripes -- at least not yet (attn: Brian Cashman -- they become free agents in 2020 and 2019, respectively).

Of course, the Yanks already have one of the best right-handed hitters of all-time. Then again, it’s A-Rod. Fair or not, the guy may have amassed 700 home runs in his incredible career (687 in the regular season and another 13 in the postseason), but to me, his Yankee years can be summed up by what he did with Keuchel’s 87th -- and final -- pitch.

With two out and two on in the bottom of the sixth and the Bombers down two runs and threatening to score against the tiring Keuchel for the one and only time in the contest, Rodriguez was so eager to end the night ASAP that he swung at the first pitch almost before it left the hurler’s hand. The weak pop-up ended the inning and, for all intents and purposes, the Yankees’ season.

Masahiro Tanaka was no Keuchel, but the Yanks’ starter was solid. Tanaka yielded four hits in his five innings, and while two of those were dingers -- there’s no shame in that, Houston hit 230 of them this year -- the righty kept his team in the game on a night where he got no help from the Yankee bats.

If the 26-year-old Tanaka can stay healthy (actually, get healthy is more like it), than he can be a foundational player for New York in the years to come. And he’d better, because the team owes him $111 million over the next five years.

Then again, like Donaldson, the 27-year-old Keuchel -- who made roughly $21.5 million less than Tanaka this season -- can become a free agent just four short years from now. He’ll surely be worth whatever the Yanks end up paying for him, if nothing else so they don’t have to face him anymore.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Player Diagnosed With MRSA]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 17:58:40 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/mrsa+daniel+fells+ny.jpg

The Giants scrubbed down their locker room, meeting areas and training rooms out of an abundance of caution this week after tight end Daniel Fells was diagnosed with MRSA, a potentially deadly antibiotic-resistant staph infection that can be transmitted by skin-to-skin contact or sharing towels, the team confirmed Tuesday.

Fells, a 32-year-old tight end signed by the Giants last year after stints with half a dozen NFL teams, including the Patriots, was placed on injured reserve Monday with an ankle injury. Doctors treating him for that issue discovered the staph infection, which turned out to be MRSA.

MRSA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is notoriously difficult to treat because it has become resistant to many antibiotics traditionally used to treat staph infections.

While one type of MRSA occurs primarily in hospitalized populations, another form occurs in healthy people -- and can spread easily through cuts and abrasions, skin-to-skin contact and sharing facilities or certain equipment.

The infection may become life-threatening, causing complications in one's bloodstream, lungs, heart, bones and joints. It is diagnosed by checking a tissue sample or nasal secretions for signs of drug-resistant bacteria.

In a statement Tuesday, Giants spokesman Pat Hanlon said, "We are working with infectious disease specialists, and we have defined protocols that we are following in consultation with the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network and local infectious disease specialists. Those protocols are being followed carefully."

Fells caught just six balls for 60 yards in two active games for Big Blue this season. His condition Tuesday wasn't immediately known; he had been hospitalized Monday, though it wasn't clear if he had been discharged.

Though the Jets and Giants share a home stadium, they use different practice facilities and locker rooms so Gang Green wasn't expected to be affected by Fells' diagnosis.

Two years ago, three players with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers contracted MRSA during an outbreak at one of the team's training facilities. One of the players, Carl Nicks, a high-profile guard in the league, had to permanently step away from football because of the illness. The infection also ended the career of Lawrence Tynes, a former Giants kicker who was diagnosed with MRSA during his tenure with the Bucs. The third player affected recovered and remains with the team.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[For the Mets, Dodgers' Big Two Are Beatable]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 13:14:10 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/211*120/Screen+Shot+2015-09-14+at+9.38.40+PM.png

Way back when ace hurlers Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain were leading the Boston Braves to the World Series, the saying went "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain.” Of course, in today’s age of OBP, WAR and VGQ (don’t ask me what that last one is), someone might point out that those Braves had a better record without Spahn and Sain than with them.

But anyway, given how large Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw -- or is it Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke? -- loom for the Dodgers, might we start hearing something along the lines of “Kershaw and Greinke and pray for a tsunami?” Probably not. But with LA’s #1 and #1A starters (again, not sure which is which) possibly on board for four of the five games the team is scheduled to play against the Mets in the upcoming NL Division Series, Mets fans are surely praying for something.

What can you say about the Dodgers’ two aces? In Kershaw, the NL West Champs may well have baseball’s best pitcher of the past 50 years. In Greinke, they’ve got a guy who just had one of the best seasons any pitcher has had in the past 50 years -- if not longer. 19-3, 1.66 ERA. No, really.

If it seems unfair that the Dodgers are blessed with, arguably (though it’s not much of an argument), MLB’s two best hurlers, well, it is. Not much else to add on that.

But great as they are, Greinke and Kershaw aren’t unbeatable. Remember this: the two pitchers made a total of 65 starts this season -- and won 35 games. So, in other words, they left nearly half of their starts without a W. While they only lost 10 of those, another 25 were no-decisions that were handed off to the LA bullpen -- which has been relatively erratic in the seventh and eighth innings. In the ninth, though, closer Kenley Jansen has been a force, blowing only two saves all year and striking out 80 -- while walking just eight -- in 52 innings.

There’s also the fact that Kershaw has been very un-Kershaw-like in the postseason. In four trips to the playoffs, the lefty has a 1-5 record with a 5.12 ERA.

And it’s not like facing the Mets’ pitching staff will be a picnic for the Dodgers lineup, which has been mediocre at the bat in 2015. The team finished eighth in the NL with 683 runs. Even the Mets did better.

So if the Amazins can manage to hang with the Dodgers aces for 100 or so pitches while their own hurlers hold their own, they’ve got a good shot to get ahead against LA’s middle relief. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt if Kershaw plays like his playoff self, instead of the regular season edition.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fantasy Sports Companies Dispute Allegations of Unfair Betting]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 12:29:37 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/FanDuel.jpg

Two companies in the booming, unregulated world of online fantasy sports issued statements Monday after recent allegations that employees may have access to insider data that could allow unfair, highly profitable bets. 

In the statement posted on FanDuel's website, the company said that despite "recent attention on industry employees," FanDuel — as well as a second sports site, DraftKings — valued "the integrity of the games we offer to our customers."

"Both companies have strong policies in place to ensure that employees do not misuse any information at their disposal and strictly limit access to company data to only those employees who require it to do their jobs," the statement said.

Photo Credit: File--AP]]>
<![CDATA[Yankees' CC Sabathia Checking Into Alcohol Rehab ]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 04:52:53 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/sabathia+rehab+center.jpg

Yankees' CC Sabathia is checking into an alcohol rehabilitation center and will miss the postseason, the pitcher said Monday in a statement released by the team.

In the statement, the 35-year-old Sabathia said he was seeking "the professional care and assistance needed to treat my disease."

He said he wanted to thank the Yankees organization for "their encouragement and understanding."

Sabathia's move comes the day before the Yankees take on the Houston Astros in a critical one-and-done AL Wild Card game. It's the team's first postseason appearance since 2012.

“I love baseball and I love my teammates like brothers, and I am also fully aware that I am leaving at a time when we should all be coming together for one last push toward the World Series," the 2007 AL Young Award winner said. "It hurts me deeply to do this now, but I owe it to myself and to my family to get myself right. I want to take control of my disease, and I want to be a better man, father and player."

Sabathia said it was difficult to publicly share his decision, but he didn't want to "run and hide." He also asked for privacy for him and his family.

“Being an adult means being accountable. Being a baseball player means that others look up to you," Sabathia added. I want my kids -- and others who may have become fans of mine over the years -- to know that I am not too big of a man to ask for help. I want to hold my head up high, have a full heart and be the type of person again that I can be proud of. And that’s exactly what I am going to do."

Sabathia was 6-10 with a 4.73 ERA this year, slowed by his surgically repaired right knee. After returning from the disabled list and using a tighter brace, the portly left-hander was 2-1 with a 2.17 ERA in five starts and got the win against Boston that week that clinched the Yankees' return to the postseason following a rare two-year absence.

Sabathia, who helped New York win the 2009 World Series during his first season in the Bronx, is signed through next season. His deal includes a 2017 club option that would become guaranteed if his left shoulder doesn't get hurt.

"I am looking forward to being out on the field with my team next season playing the game that brings me so much happiness," Sabathia said. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Can Third Time Possibly Be a Charm for Yanks?]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 13:09:29 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-487838036.jpg

Dallas Keuchel has been very good this season. After all, the 27-year-old Astros hurler won 20 games and is the top contender to win the AL Cy Young award in the coming weeks. However, Keuchel has been especially good against the Yankees. Actually, more like superhuman.

In two games vs. the Bronx Bombers -- one each at Houston’s Minute Maid Park and Yankee Stadium -- Keuchel absolutely destroyed his opponent, yielding just nine hits, one walk and no runs in 16 innings while striking out 21.

The Yankees play right into Keuchel’s hands -- especially his throwing one. While it’s no picnic for right-handers against the All-Star lefty, it’s downright brutal for southpaw batters facing him. They hit just .177 vs. Keuchel this year, with only three homers in 181 at-bats.

With the Yanks’ lineup usually featuring at least six lefties, they appear again ripe for the picking.

However, when the Yankees meet the Astros in the Bronx in Tuesday night’s AL Wild Card contest, they do have one thing going for them: an intimate knowledge of the pitcher they’re facing and a deep familiarity with his strengths and weaknesses. The only problem is, he hasn’t shown any of the latter against the Yanks.

But it’s said that pitchers become less effective each additional time they pass through a lineup. Well, Keuchel has faced New York’s nine six or seven times this year. Maybe (yes, doubtfully, but still, maybe) they’re starting to figure him out.

On the flip side, Yankee ace -- oh wait, they don’t have an ace. OK, their top starter, Masahiro Tanaka, has faced Houston just once in his two-year MLB career. The righty got the win, on the road in late June. But it sure wasn’t pretty. Tanaka surrendered seven hits (three of them over the fence) and six runs in five innings, for an unsightly 10.80 ERA.

On the bright side, it’s not like the visitors can do much better vs. Tanaka than they did last time.

Also, the postseason is essentially a new season, one where experience is enormous -- and Keuchel has none.

And obviously, anything can happen on a given night. Buster Douglas beat Mike Tyson. Villanova beat Georgetown. Ed Whitson beat up Billy Martin, again and again, but only after Martin did the truly unthinkable -- try to break up a fight rather than start one (the pitcher obviously didn’t appreciate Martin’s intervention).

But the fact is the Yankees are in a must-win contest against a guy who has simply dominated them. Tanaka better not give up three homers again.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hero, Nero, Zero for Giants' Win Over Bills]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 10:57:54 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-491318356.jpg

Two weeks removed from a second fourth-quarter meltdown that left them 0-2 and staring into the abyss of a potentially lost season, the Giants have won two games in a row and now find themselves tied for first place in the NFC East.

One can draw direct parallels between the Giants’ 24-10 victory over Buffalo on Sunday and the team’s rise to the top of the division: the G-Men have been helped as much by their own efforts as they have by the shortcomings of their opponents and division rivals.

Buffalo was penalized 17 times for 135 yards and the team was playing without two of its top three playmakers, running back LeSean McCoy and wide receiver Sammy Watkins.

Yes, a win is a win is a win, and all that bottom line philosophy that Bill Parcells always spouted – “You are what your record says you are” -- but in the interest of offending those people who disdain nuance, let’s acknowledge that the Giants still exhibited their fair share of insanity and ineptitude in the victory over the Bills.

So in addition to handing out a participation trophy for Hero, let’s make sure we hand out a bright flaming fiddle to the game's Nero and a Ziploc bag full of hot air to the game's Zero. No need to bring three different gentlemen to the dais, as all three honors go to Eli Manning.

Hero: Eli Manning.

In advance of this game against Buffalo, which came in leading the league in rushing offense and rushing defense, it seemed incumbent upon the Giants to either stick to their normal game plan for victories -- Odell Beckham Jr. going for 150 yards and two touchdowns, with Manning protecting the ball and the defense producing turnovers -- or to go off-script and get other people involved.

Well, wouldn’t ya know it, the Giants broke from script -- ya know, except for more idiotic late-game play calling (more on that in a bit) -- and received contributions from a wide net of players, including special teams stalwart Dwayne Harris (who caught the game’s first touchdown) and linebacker Devon Kennard (who made a tremendous play intercepting a throw down the sideline).

Add in the game-sealing, 51-yard catch and run by running back Rashad Jennings, who broke several tackles and threw a one-arm shiver into Bills defensive back Baccari Rambo; the team's final touchdown catch by Rueben Randle; and the ongoing brilliance of punter Brad Wing, and you have a Giants victory that was undergirded by contributions from all three phases of the game.

Kudos to Manning on getting so many players involved on offense. Speaking of Eli …

Nero: Manning!

What in the wide world of sports is the matter with that boy? Leading 24-10 with 3:51 left in the fourth quarter, the Giants had third and eight from the Bills 8-yard line. Instead of simply running the ball and (most likely) bringing up a fourth down, which would have prompted the Giants to kick a field goal and go up by three scores, offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo called for quick slant pass.

The level of dumb runs deeps with that one. The Giants already earned a permanent spot in the Pantheon of Stupidity when they mismanaged the end of the opening-game loss to the Cowboys. Then they coughed up another double-digit lead to the Falcons in Week 2. And now, on the verge of going 2-2 -- with a victory on the road over a favored opponent -- the team calls for a pass play inside the 10-yard line with a 14-point lead and less than four minutes to play.

The football gods were not sleeping on this one and justifiably steered Manning’s pass into the hands of Stephon Gilmore of the Bills.

There wasn’t a Giants fans on earth who didn’t drop a string of poetic expletives after that demonstration of stupidity. The play call was McAdoo’s, but the ultimate decision and action both rested with Manning.

Zero: Number of interceptions Manning had this season until that boneheaded throw.

It’s a good thing the Giants play in the NFC East, where the divisional opponents are either banged up and delusional (Dallas); unwilling to take the training wheels off the reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year (Philadelphia); or still owned by Daniel Snyder.

The Giants threw away their first two games against Dallas and Atlanta, and with consecutive victories over Washington and Buffalo, they should very well be 4-0. They have a generous upcoming schedule -- San Francisco; @ Philly; Dallas; @ New Orleans; @ Tampa Bay -- which could allow them to take control of the division.

They just need to stop exhibiting moronic tendencies late in the fourth quarter.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Things Are Different for Jets In London, But Fish Still Stink]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 10:50:01 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Chris-Ivory-Dolphins-Wembley-1004.jpg

Is the air lighter in the U.K.? How else to explain Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 58-yard fling on the team’s first offensive play Sunday, or that at 33, the Amish rifle was suddenly running like Usain Bolt? OK, maybe that’s a stretch, but still, the fact that the Jets QB outgained Miami’s running backs tells you that things were just a bit different on the other side of the pond.

The Jets dominated the admittedly awful Dolphins at London’s Wembley Stadium, putting forth an effort that should’ve resulted in a four-TD margin instead of the actual 27-14 score.

In the Jets’ defense (not like they need much help in that department), the sorry Fish did have two things going for them: refs that apparently believed you can only flag one of the two teams when outside the U.S.; and Jarvis Landry, their receiver/return man/running threat, transforming from a non-entity to the Incredible Hulk during halftime.

I’m not sure if Landry got into the Jets’ bountiful toilet paper stash during the intermission, but, after a quiet first half, the second-year pro out of LSU was a one-man wrecking crew in the second. He too outrushed the Dolphin RBs, even though he only carried it twice, while also inflicting damage as a punt returner and receiver.

Meanwhile, the officials seemed to hold something against the Jets (the jealous zebras obviously were stuck with U.K.-grade TP). Maybe it was the yellow flag they kept throwing anytime Gang Green so much as sneezed. The Jets -- who were considered the visitors Sunday but understandably didn’t expect their opponent to enjoy true home-field advantage -- were flagged 15 times. The refs were an even bigger offensive weapon for Miami than Landry, giving the Dolphins an additional 163 yards in Jet penalties.

However, the officials’ biggest offense was a non-call on an “interception” Miami DB Zackary Bowman made late in the third quarter. To call Bowman guilty of pass interference on the play would’ve been worthy of a penalty itself for the egregiousness of the understatement. What Bowman did was more like “pass annihilation,” as he essentially tackled Jets WR Devin Smith while the ball was still in the air. Still, no flag was thrown.

In fairness, the unfairness didn’t really have much of an impact, since the Fish didn’t belong on the same field as the Jets -- even if the field in question is one normally used for the kind of football we call soccer.

I don’t know if Miami is the worst team in the NFL, but if not, they’re diligently working toward that distinction. If the game is won in the trenches, as they say, the Dolphins will be lucky to get another W all year. They can’t block when they have the ball, and they can’t shed blocks when they don’t.

Both teams are on a bye after the Trans-Atlantic trip. But while the Dolphins appear eager for the season to end just four games in, the 3-1 Jets look like they’re raring to go.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Top NFL Photos: Week 4]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 00:19:04 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-491476626.jpg See the top photos from week 4 of the NFL.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Face Good Test in Rex Ryan and the Bills]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 11:41:12 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Rex-Ryan-NY-Bills.jpg

I love Bills head coach Rex Ryan. Even though I don't share his affinity for women's feet, I enjoy many facets of his personality. He's bombastic, opinionated, fun-loving and an occasional hardass. His press conferences are invariably entertaining and he doesn't scoff at reporters with the same unbridled disdain that occasionally bubbles up from Giants coach Tom Coughlin.

I also love Rex Ryan because he's never been the coach of my team, so he hasn't focused 99.999 percent of his attention on his defense and the remaining nanoseconds accumulating skill position players with observable skills.

The Jets had a Super Bowl-worthy defense for several years under Ryan, but the team was always supplying the fewest amount of offensive players to people's fantasy teams. Other than Thomas Jones, who had 1,402 yards rushing in Ryan's first year in New York (2009), the Jets' best skills position players were laughably bad. The leading passers were Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith, and the leading receivers were (look away!) Jericho Cotchery, Braylon Edwards, Dustin Keller, Jeremy Kerley and Eric Decker.

Know what they all had in common? (Ya know, other than terrible quarterbacks.) None of them had more than 1,000 yards receiving while with the Jets. The team hasn't had a 1,000-yard receiver since the pre-Ryan era, when Cotchery notched 1,130 in 2007.

In an era when NFL teams are setting passing, receiving and scoring records, the Jets remained blissfully in the dark ages. Is the Buffalo team that the Giants face this week any different? It sure seems to be, which is why a lot of people are giddy about the Bills, a team which already features a (sometimes) Super Bowl-worthy defense.

Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor is currently fifth in the NFL in quarterback rating, which would be remarkable if the season were more than three games old and the Bills had played those games against teams with honorable defenses. Indianapolis, New England, Miami are ranked 15th, 19th and 23rd in points allowed per game, respectively, meaning Taylor should do quite well against another mediocre defense -- the Giants, ranked 16th in points per game.

Last week's victory over Washington was a season-saver for the Giants, who at 1-2 are just one game behind Dallas (2-1) in the race toward mediocrity in the NFC East. The winner of this division could limp home with an 8-8 record, it wouldn't surprise me. So how devastating would a loss be in Buffalo?

Let's ask our man on the street, Joey from Meadowlands Park: "Any loss is very devastating, but especially a loss to another New York team."

And that reminds me, Buffalo is from New York, which I always forget because, well, Buffalo.

Without the services of the injured LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins, the Bills' offense will ostensibly have trouble matching its year-to-date average of 33 points per game. But they're facing a Giants defense that has only generated three sacks in three games, so Taylor should have plenty of time to find some of Buffalo's other offensive options, including Percy Harvin (provided he can get his porcelain bones to the stadium in one piece, which is never a given); tight end Charles Clay; and third-year USC product Robert Woods.

Oh, and they can also lean on a guy at running back (Karlos Williams) who is averaging 7.8 yards per carry. Is Williams available in your fantasy league? Go check right now. Run. Seriously, hurry up.

The rookie from Florida State ran for 110 yards on 12 carries in last week's 41-14 drubbing of the Dolphins. So just imagine what he's going to do against a defense that doesn't have Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake.

The long lag time between the victory over Washington has tempered some of the bickering about this Giants team, which still has no pass rush, an unreliable running game, few playmakers on defense and a future slot receiver (Victor Cruz) who is in dire need of some good juju.

It's hard to be confident about the Giants' prospects in traveling to Buffalo when you're basically counting on Odell Beckham Jr. to go 150 with two TDs, Eli Manning to continue posting zeros in the INT column, and the defense to continue producing turnovers. Can all three of those things happen? They're going to need to happen in order for New York to travel upstate and raise their record to 2-2 and put them firmly in the hunt in the NFC (L)East.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Jets Too Good for Fish, in London or Anywhere]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 10:01:10 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ndamukong+suh.jpg

I’m no jet setter (no pun intended), but I’ve been to London, and, to the best of my recollection, there is plenty of toilet paper there. Apparently, the Jets’ logistical crew is unaware of this, because they’ve brought along 350 rolls of the fluffy white stuff for their Trans-Atlantic trip to play the Dolphins on Sunday at Wembley Stadium.

Deep-diving investigative reports are suggesting Gang Green just likes good ol’ American TP better than what they’ve got in the U.K. For a bunch of football players, these guys are higher-maintenance than Thurston Howell III.

The game will start at 9:30 a.m. EST, giving us East Coasters a sampling of the blessed wall-to-wall football Sundays those on the Left Coast get to enjoy, but other than that, it’s business as usual for the Jets, who, weirdly, are considered the visiting team (then again, it’d be pretty strange if they were the home team, though no less bizarre than the toilet paper thing).

For the third week in a row, Todd Bowles and company face a desperate opponent sorely in need of a win. This time, it’s archrival Miami, which would almost surely be winless if they had played anyone but Washington -- a team that wouldn’t finish in the top half of the SEC standings -- in Week 1. Last week, the Fish got trounced by Rex Ryan’s Bills, a loss for which head coach Joe Philbin squarely shouldered the blame. Then again, Philbin always seems at a loss, even as calls for his head grow louder with each passing game.

Through three games, Miami has been inept on offense and ineffectual on defense.

Often playing from behind, they’ve thrown the ball more than twice as much as they’ve run it, but haven’t done much damage through the air or on the ground.

On the other side of the ball, the Dolphins have surrendered 64 points over the past two weeks. Their pass rush has been nonexistent, even with the $114 million man, Ndamukong Suh, anchoring the front. I’m not sure what the all-time low is for sacks in a 16-game season, but, with just one to date, I’d be willing to bet that Miami is on pace to break the record.

Put simply, the Dolphins have no business beating the Jets -- be it in London, New York, Miami or on Mars (can you imagine how much TP the Jets would be packing for that voyage?). But neither did the Eagles, another desperate team that was able to take advantage of Gang Green’s uncharacteristic ineptitude (this year, anyway) last Sunday.

If the Jets play smart, they’ll get the W. If they play like they did vs. Philly, all bets are off -- except in London, of course, where you can bet legally. Cheers.

Photo Credit: AP]]>