Gary Phillips

Gary Phillips is a contributor at The Athletic, Forbes and Sporting News and the Managing Editor of USA Today Sports' Jets Wire. Phillips has previous experience with Bleacher Report, FanRag Sports, The Bergen Record, CNBC, NBC News,, the Locked On Network, The Journal Inquirer and The Journal News. A journalism graduate of Seton Hall, he was Editor-in-Chief of The Setonian, the university's award-winning student newspaper. He can be reached at or 845-825-7030.

Off-court creativity ‘essential’ to Willie Cauley-Stein’s success on the court

Robin Clary was scrolling through her Twitter feed when she stumbled upon the perfect student. It was Summer 2016 and the Folsom, California-based piano instructor couldn’t help but notice the 7-footer inquiring about lessons. In the midst of his first professional offseason, Willie Cauley-Stein was bored. He wanted to create. He always does when he’s not playing basketball.

‘I probably shouldn’t have been an idiot’: Now...

Mort, Mat Latos’ go-to Cincinnati clubbie, had the right-hander’s gameday order down pat. Without fail, whenever Latos strolled into Great American Ballpark, he’d find Mort waiting with a chicken, bacon and ranch sandwich and a bottle of Cholula Hot Sauce. These days, Latos, 30, spreads his own peanut butter and jelly with cheap plastic knives before games. Now a closer for the independent Can-Am League's New Jersey Jackals...

Despite their similarities, Aaron Boone and Mickey Callaway trending in different directions

The similarities between Aaron Boone and Mickey Callaway are easily identified. Both are former players turned beginner managers, both are trying to make it in New York. In April, their jobs were more or less the same: connect and contend. The Yankees brought Boone in to replace a grizzled Joe Girardi despite falling one game shy of the World Series; Callaway took the reigns from Terry Collins with the Mets still hopeful that their window had not yet closed.

He had to retire the machetes from his act, but Marlins’ Derek Dietrich still loves to juggle

Huddled around J.B. Shuck’s cell phone in the visitors’ clubhouse at Citi Field, a group of Marlins can’t believe their eyes. Bewildered, they watch a video from August 2013. Pictured is a man wearing a Jacksonville Suns uniform as he entertains a crowd at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. He starts off slow, tossing three balls in the air. Then four. Then five. Then he moves on to bowling pins. Next, razor-sharp machetes cut through the air. Yes, they’re real. So are the torches.

Jason Giambi knows his future is back in an MLB dugout — just not yet

The only team Jason Giambi has any desire to coach right now is his son’s tee-ball squad, but he envisions moving up a few levels down the road. After spending a 20-year career with the Athletics, Yankees, Rockies and Indians, the former first baseman has enjoyed family life in Las Vegas since retiring following the 2014 season. With three kids ages 1 to 6, Giambi is in no rush to get back in the game. Yet he acknowledges he has managerial aspirations.

From Little League to Boston, Mookie Betts' mom has never stopped coaching him

The coach-pitch level of Little League offers little distance between the mound and the plate, but cat-like reflexes are rarely required when tossing to 4- and 5-year-olds. With her son at-bat, however, Diana Benedict was caught off guard. This was more than two decades ago, long before exit velo — not that children would have such tools at their disposal — but Benedict swears it was a "rocket."

Indians’ Trevor Bauer talks pine tar, spin rate, experiments and more

Indians hurler Trevor Bauer made waves last week when he suggested the use of foreign substances by pitchers was a rampant issue in baseball. Bauer, who has always taken a scientific approach to his career, said the implication was based on experiments he had performed to see what substances like pine tar could do to a pitcher’s spin rate. Speaking with Sporting News, Bauer discussed his research and why foreign substances and spin rates are such a big deal.

How Twins pitcher José Berríos got so darn good

José Berríos’ last start was like no other. Toeing the rubber at Estadio Hiram Bithorn on April 18, the 23-year-old had already proclaimed this night to be the biggest of his young career. The Bayamon, Puerto Rico, product was home, participating in a two-game series on the island between his Twins and the Indians. With somewhere between 150 and 200 of Berríos’ closest relatives and friends set to attend, Minnesota tweaked its rotation so that the right-hander could spend his homecoming on the mound.

Tampa native Denard Span at home in Rays uniform — and mom is thrilled

Denard Span was not impressed the first time he laid eyes on a Devil Rays uniform. The Tampa native was 14 or so and the team was brand new to Major League Baseball. In true 1990s style, the Devil Rays’ original home duds featured the team name in a spectrum of teal, green, yellow and purple on the front, underlined by the tail of a manta ray. The backs featured blocky names and numbers in all purple.

A chat with Godzilla: Hideki Matsui on Yankees job, Shohei Ohtani, and adjusting to America

NEW YORK — Hideki Matsui last played in the majors in 2012, but the international star still finds himself connected to the game. Known as Godzilla during a 20-year career that spanned Japan, New York, California and Tampa Bay, Matsui is now doing what he can to give back to baseball at multiple levels. Speaking with Sporting News, he talked about retirement, working for the Yankees, transitioning to America and more.
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