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St. John’s fends off Providence for sixth-straight win

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St. John’s fends off Providence for sixth-straight win

This is what a good team does to follow up a seismic upset victory.

It builds a big lead against an inferior opponent. When the desperate opponent rallies, it doesn’t wilt and doesn’t take its foot off the gas.

St. John’s showed Saturday it is a good team, winning its sixth straight, 92-81 over Providence at Alumni Hall.

The Red Storm didn’t falter after blowing a 17-point lead. When Providence ripped off a 15-2 run to go up five early in the second half, the Johnnies buckled down. They tightened up their defense and put together a big run of their own, paving the way to their seventh win in eight games, a definitive follow-up to Wednesday’s massive upset of No. 3 Villanova.

Young stars Posh Alexander and Julian Champagnie led the charge in the first half, combining to score 34 points before the break. Champagnie finished with 24 points and Alexander had 21.

Rasheem Dunn, Marcellus Earlington, Dylan Addae-Wusu and Isaih Moore were integral in the second half, producing timely baskets. Most of all, it was the defense, forcing nine turnovers and finding a way to slow down the Friars’ overpowering center, Nate Watson, who managed just six points over the final 16 minutes.

With the victory, St. John’s (13-7, 7-6 Big East) is just now percentage points behind Connecticut for fifth place in the conference and could receive top-25 votes on Monday.

It was a frenetic first half — just the way St. John’s prefers. The two teams had combined for 31 points at the first media timeout. A total of 90 points were scored in the opening 20 minutes. The pace was fast and it led to a load of open 3-pointers for the Red Storm, who made eight of their first 10 and shot a blistering 63 percent in the stanza, notching 13 assists on 17 made field goals.

They ripped off a 19-0 run at one point, building a 17-point lead after 3-pointers by Greg Williams Jr. and Earlington. Still, despite the efforts of Champagnie and Alexander, they only led by eight at the break. Providence (9-10, 5-8) handled the Red Storm’s pressure well, committing just three turnovers, and dominated the paint, with Watson scoring 18 points and Noah Horchler adding 16.

The halftime break didn’t cool off Providence, which erupted for a 15-2 run to start the half and built a five-point lead by owning the paint. Watson scored six points in that burst.

St. John’s defense finally woke up, however, creating deflections and turnovers. Dunn hit back-to-back baskets. Alexander came up with a steal in the backcourt and a layup. The Johnnies reeled off eight straight points to retake the lead and never really looked back.

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Mike King will start in Yankees’ spring training opener

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Mike King will start in Yankees' spring training opener

Observations from Thursday’s Yankees workout:

King for a day

Aaron Boone announced Mike King will start Sunday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Blue Jays at George M. Steinbrenner Field. The right-hander is fighting for a spot in the rotation.

Icy reception

Justin Wilson’s arrival to Tampa was delayed by the winter storm that hit Texas and crippled much of the state. He stayed with his wife and children while they were without power for 30 hours then attempted to drive to Florida. He was slowed by bad road conditions, which forced him to stay in a hotel in Louisiana before finally making it. “It was an interesting few days.”

Caught my eye

Mike Tauchman snapped his bat over his leg after flying out against Domingo German and then came back to homer off Gerrit Cole during live BP. Boone is confident the outfielder is healthy and will bounce back after a disappointing 2020 season.

Friday’s schedule

Workouts for pitchers, catchers and position players as the team prepares for Sunday’s Grapefruit League opener.

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One college student is using Instagram to make MLB cool again

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One college student is using Instagram to make MLB cool again

TAMPA — Alex Tantum represents a minority constituency of sorts: He is a college junior, and his favorite sport is baseball.

When he talks to contemporaries, often, “The first thing they say, when I ask, ‘Why don’t you watch baseball?’ is ‘Baseball is boring,’” Tantum said in a conversation Wednesday. “I think that some of the things that baseball is doing — I think bat flips, more celebrations, embracing players’ personalities — helps the game become less boring,”

In October 2019, Tantum created an Instagram account called “MLB FITS,” championed by the slogan, “The Game is Changing.” Its posts highlight well-dressed baseball players — some on the field, like a recent shot of new Met Francisco Lindor, but mostly off the field, like the Yankees’ Clint Frazier sitting in his highly celebrated shoe closet..

The Frazier post features a comment from Yankees teammate Tyler Wade, and that speaks to what makes this account special: Among its over 21,000 followers are many ballplayers themselves, including Wade, the Padres’ Blake Snell and retired Yankees legend CC Sabathia.

“It’s so important for them to be able to express their personalities,” Tantum said. “It’s good for themselves. It’s good for the game as a whole. It’s good for fans to be able to relate to them. I feel like the players’ outfits are an extension of their personalities.”

Tantum cited the Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr., the Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr., the Yankees’ Aaron Judge and Lindor as players whom he believes can compel his generation with the way they both play the game and understand the value of looking good while playing good. A Yankees fan, he ranked Frazier, Wade, Judge, Gleyber Torres, Aroldis Chapman and Giancarlo Stanton (not in that order – they all reside in his top tier) as the team’s best-dressed players.

“My friends are really into the NBA and NFL,” Tantum said. “I think what the NBA does a great job of is marketing the players and letting the players really speak for themselves. I think MLB is doing more of that recently.” Players Weekend, he added, was a personal favorite, and he applauded the formation of the Players Alliance. 

After some talk of celebrations and expressions of emotion, I asked Tantum what he thought of the game itself, given all of the concerns and laments surrounding it.

“I’ve always enjoyed watching baseball. That’s just me as a baseball fan,” he said. “Obviously, there has been a lot of talk about time of the game, shortening the game, putting more hitting into the game, lowering the number of home runs versus strikeouts.”

There are changes that can be made to mitigate that; the attempted deadening of the baseball will be interesting, and fingers crossed that we’ll get pitch clocks and robot umps sooner than later. Ultimately, though, Tantum feels the best way to make baseball more exciting is to have the players be more excited.

“Emotion is good,” he said. “Pitcher celebrations are good, too. There’s always going to be those people who say, ‘I don’t like this. This isn’t the way it’s done,’ and stuff like that. But I think at the end of the day, the players are the ones who dictate what’s going on.”

The game, like the world, is changing. In a week when we saw Mariners president Kevin Mather resign in shame after voicing some fossilized views on players, it’s clear that baseball must further empower its players to be who they want to be in order for the industry to attain its full potential.


This week’s Pop Quiz question came from the late Jan Bottone of Wellesley, Mass.: The 1992 film “Light Sleeper” features a late scene in which a couple of people can be seen wearing baseball jackets, both sporting the same major-league team logo. Which team’s logo is it?


The Post’s baseball podcasts will get back up and running next week. Check them out.


Your Pop Quiz answer is the Yankees.

If you have a tidbit that connects baseball with popular culture, please send it to me at [email protected] 

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Mets’ Noah Syndergaard honors late Post photographer Anthony Causi

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Mets' Noah Syndergaard honors late Post photographer Anthony Causi

Mets photo day at spring training simply isn’t the same this year.

Pitcher Noah Syndergaard posted a touching message to the Mets’ official Twitter account Thursday morning, paying tribute to Post sports photographer Anthony Causi, who passed away from coronavirus last April at 48.

“Hey Anthony, today’s photo day and it’s just not the same without you,” Syndergaard said. “It pretty much sucks. We’re thinking about you today, and we know that you’re snapping photos from above. Miss you man.”

Causi, on assignment for The Post, was a staple at Mets spring training throughout the last decade, bringing our readers a look at the Mets unlike any other photographer.

During Yoenis Cespedes’ first spring training with the Mets in 2016, Causi chronicled the outfielder’s wild cars, even one day getting a view riding shotgun. On photo day in 2016 Causi also captured the Mets’ vaunted starting rotation of Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Bartolo Colon, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler.

And during his stays in Port St. Lucie, Causi developed a friendship with Syndergaard, who was willing to let Anthony try just about anything — including a photo of the right-hander signing an autograph from the ground up.

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