Randy Arozarena Named American League Championship Series MVP After Hitting Four Homers vs. Houston Astros

Randy Arozarena is the man of  the hour…

The 25-year-old Cuban professional baseball outfielder continued his historic postseason run on Saturday with his seventh homer, a two-run shot in the first inning that gave theTampa Bay Rays a lead it never relinquished against the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series.

Randy Arozarena

Arozarena was named MVP of the ALCS, becoming the fourth rookie — and first rookie position player — to be named MVP of a league championship series.

He has homered seven times during this year’s playoffs, just one shy of the Major League Baseball record, and now has 47 total bases since the regular season ended.

Tampa Baywill now head to the World Series after holding off baseball’s most infamous team. The Rays beat the Astros 4-2 in Game 7, ending Houston’s bid to become the second team in baseball history to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a postseason series.

“It goes without saying this has been a weird year,” Rays Game 7 starter — and winner — Charlie Morton said. “It was pretty apparent early on the guys had bought into each other during this time.

“It was very challenging, because at first everything was about the protocols and trying to keep guys safe. Just guys come onto the field every day, knowing they could get sick, and staff coming in, and just a ton of work by people behind the scenes. I am so proud of these guys.”

The formula for the Rays is consistency, and it was very much evident in Game 7. They stifle the opposition. They catch the ball on defense. And they ride just enough home runs on offense to bring home the win.

The Rays now head to their second World Series in franchise history. The last time they played in the Fall Classic was in 2008, when they lost to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Tampa Bay entered the first 16-team playoff format in baseball history with a 40-20 record, tops in the AL, and thus earned the Junior Circuit’s No. 1 seed. That top seed held up, even though the Rays had to recover from losing three straight to Houston after winning the first three contests.

“Pretty special feeling,” Cash said. “I don’t know if I’ve had many better [moments] other than getting married and having three kids. This is right there below that. It can’t get much better than that. This is a special group to be a part of.”

For Houston, it was an emotional loss after a tumultuous season for the organization. The Astros were embroiled in a sign-stealing scandal last winter that tainted their 2017 World Series title and cost manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow their jobs.

“The legacy of this group is that these guys are ballplayers,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “These guys are men; they have been through a whole bunch other than on the ballfield. [Now] these guys can forget the problems they had that is out there and come together as a group and be forever friends.”

Hinch’s replacement, the 71-year-old Baker, helped restore some of the goodwill the Astros squandered. But with the Game 7 loss, Baker is still looking for the first championship of a managerial career that began in 1993. Yet, in 2020, there was much more that was brought into perspective.

“You go home and you regroup,” Baker said. “Personally, when I think of [former MLB executive Jimmie Lee Solomon, whose] funeral was today, and you think about the many friends I have lost over the last month, six months. That is the reality of life. Those are far greater losses than losing a ballgame.”

Pablo Sandoval Added to Atlanta Braves’ Roster for NL Wildcard Series Against the Cincinnati Reds

Pablo Sandoval is heading back to the field…

The 34-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball third baseman and former World Series MVP has been added to the Atlanta Braves‘ 28-player roster for the National League wildcard series against the Cincinnati Reds.

Pablo Sandoval

Sandoval joined the Braves after being released by the San Francisco Giants a couple of weeks ago.

 

He started at third base in the final game of the regular season, going 0 for 2 with two walks in a 9-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox. Sandoval played 33 games for the Giants, hitting .220 with one homer and six RBI.

ESPN Films Orders Documentary Series on Keith Hernandez & His 1986 World Series-Winning New York Mets

Keith Hernandez is getting documented…

The 1986 World Series-winning run by the 66-year-old half-Spanish American former professional baseball player’s New York Mets will get the multi-part documentary treatment by ESPN in a project under the 30 for 30 banner, whose executive producers include Jimmy Kimmel.

Keith Hernandez

ESPN Films said the series will chronicle the team’s exploits on and off the field. 

In the World Series, the Boston Red Sox were one strike away from victory before a two-out rally and a ground ball hit by Mookie Wilson slipped through the legs of Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner

The comeback, ESPN said in a press release, “was merely the climax of an epic tale of ambition and swagger set in a city that was synonymous with excess.”

ESPN promises “hours of never-before-seen footage” of the team, a group of disparate, larger-than-life characters who made a big impression on and off the field. 

Keith Hernandez

Many members of the team went on to generate headlines long after 1986, among them Darryl StrawberryDwight Gooden, Hernandez, a five-time MLB All-Star, and Lenny Dykstra

The team already has been the subject of a dishy non-fiction book,The Bad Guys Won, written by Jeff Pearlman, whose L.A. Lakers book, Showtime, has been turned into a scripted drama on HBO.

Hernandez played the majority of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals and Mets. He shared the 1979 National League MVP awardand won two World Seriestitles, one each with the Cardinals and Mets.

Hernandez retired as an active player after spending one year with the Cleveland Indians in 1990. Since 2006, he has served as a television broadcaster for Mets games on SportsNet New York and WPIX, as well as a studio analyst for MLB on Fox since 2017.

Pablo Sandoval Signs Minor League Contract with the San Francisco Giants

Pablo Sandovalis back with the San Francisco Giants.

The 33-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball third baseman, commonly known as Kung Fu Panda has agreed to a minor league contract with the Giants and would get a one-year, $2 million deal if he’s added to the 40-man roster.

Pablo Sandoval

The 2012 World Series MVP, who thought last summer that his time with San Francisco could be over, would have the chance to earn $750,000 in performance bonuses.

Sandoval is working back from season-ending Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in early September. Dr. Neal ElAttrachein Los Angeles determined Sandoval needed the procedure on his ulnar collateral ligament, and the third baseman has said he is determined to come back even stronger in 2020.

The progress and health status of the switch-hitter will be more clear come spring training. Pitchers and catchers report to Scottsdale Stadium in Arizona on February 11.

New manager Gabe Kapler is counting on Sandoval’s veteran presence.

“Pablo brings a wealth of experience, a lot of energy and consistent positivity,” Kapler said. “That mentality from a veteran player really helps set the tone for a clubhouse. I’m excited for the impact he’ll have. On the field, he’s a dangerous bat, and he was always one we planned carefully around when I was with Philly.”

Sandoval made a comeback with the Giants in 2017 after his release by the Boston Red Sox, and he was used in various roles by now-retired manager Bruce Bochy. In 2019, Sandoval batted .268 with 14 homers and 41 RBIs in 108 games.

Victor Rodriguez Named MVP After Seattle Sounders’ MLS Cup Championship Win

Victor Rodriguez is the man of the pitch…

The 30-year-old Spanish professional footballer and Seattle Sounders midfielder has been awarded the MLS Cup MVP trophy, after scoring the second goal in the Sounders’ championship victory over Toronto FC on Sunday.

Victor Rodriguez

Seattle came out on top 3-1 in front of 69,274 fans at a sold-out CenturyLink Field, making it the largest sporting event in the history of the stadium and the largest soccer crowd in the history of Washington State. 

Despite Toronto dominating possession in the first half, Seattle broke the deadlock after a cross-shot from right-back Kelvin Leerdamdeflected in off the unfortunate Justin Morrow.

Despite the introduction of Toronto striker Jozy Altidore off the bench, Seattle doubled their lead with 14 minutes remaining thanks to a fine strike from the edge of the box from Sounders substitute Rodriguez. And the result was put beyond doubt in the 90th minute, whenRaul Ruidiaz out-muscled Chris Mavinga and finished delightfully past Toronto keeper Quentin Westberg

Altidore’s goal soon after was a mere consolation for the visitors.

J.D. Martinez Opts to Stay with the Boston Red Sox

J.D. Martinez is still seeing Red (Sox)

The 32-year-old Cuban American Major League Baseball star didn’t opt out of his contract with the Boston Red Sox.

J.D. Martinez

By staying with the Red Sox, Martinez can earn $62.5 million over the next three years: $23.75 million for 2020 and $19,375,000 for both 2021 and 2022. 

He also has the option to opt out after each of the next two seasons, as long as he doesn’t spend a lengthy period on the injured list.

“J.D. has advised me that his decision is about assuring that he plays for a competitive team and wanting to continue to play in a place where he knows that he can be highly productive,” Scott Boras, Martinez’s agent, told The Boston Globe.

Over the past three seasons, Martinez leads the league in home runs with 124 and is second in RBIs at 339, batting average at .313, slugging percentage at .619 and OPS at 1.007 over that span.

The Red Sox, who had the highest payroll in baseball last season ($243 million), are looking to get below the luxury tax threshold ($208M). It remains to be seen how this will affect newly hired chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom‘s ability to also retain Mookie Betts, the 2018 MVP who will become a free agent after next season. Betts made $27.7 million last season and is likely to get more in arbitration this season.

Martinez led the Red Sox in home runs, RBIs and hits in 2018, on the way to winning his first World Seriestitle. His numbers in 2019 fell off as he battled back spasms, but in his two years in Boston, he hit 79 homers and drove in 235 runs. He has been an All-Starboth of his years in Boston.

Though he played 38 games in the outfield this year, Martinez is primarily a designated hitter.

Martinez takes a meticulous approach to hitting, analyzing at-bats and opposing pitchers, and several Red Sox players credited him with helping them improve their approach.

Martinez broke in with the Houston Astrosin 2011 and was released by the team in 2014. Martinez decided he had to change his swing, and worked with Robert Van Scoyoc, now the Los Angeles Dodgershitting coach, and Craig Wallenbrock.

He signed a free-agent deal with the Detroit Tigers in 2014, then was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacksin July 2017. In 62 games with Arizona, Martinez hit .302 with 29 home runs and 65 RBIs. That landed him the deal with the Red Sox.

Anthony Rendon Among This Year’s MLB National League MVP Finalists

Anthony Rendonhas made the final cut…

The 29-year-old Mexican American Major League Baseball star has been named a finalist for the National League MVP award.

Anthony Rendon

Rendon, who hit key home runs in Games 6 and 7 of the World Series to help lead his Washington Nationals team to their first championship, will face off against Los Angeles Dodgersoutfielder Cody Bellingerand Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelichfor the MLB honor. Yelich won last year’s NL MVPaward with 29 of 30 first-place votes.

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike TroutHouston Astros third baseman Alex Bregmanand Oakland Athleticsshortstop Marcus Semienare finalists for the American League MVPaward. Trout is seeking his third MVP award after winning in 2014 and ’16. He finished second in 2012, ’13, ’15 and ’18.

Houston’s Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander are finalists for the AL Cy Young Award along with Tampa Bay Rays’ Charlie Morton, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America said. Verlander won the 2011 Cy Young with the Detroit Tigers, when he also was voted MVP.

New York Metsace Jacob deGromis a finalist for the NL Cy Young Award after getting 29 of 30 first-place votes last year. He is competing with Washington’s Max Scherzerand the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu. Scherzer is a three-time Cy Young winner.

New York Mets first baseman Pete AlonsoAtlanta Braves right-hander Mike Soroka and San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.are finalists for the NL Rookie of the Year. Houston designated hitter Yordan Alvarez, Tampa Bay second baseman Brandon Lowe and Baltimore Orioles‘ left-hander John Means are the top candidates in the AL.

The New York Yankees‘ Aaron BooneMinnesota Twins‘ Rocco Baldelliand Tampa Bay’s Kevin Cash are finalists for AL Manager of the Year. Atlanta’s Brian Snitker is a finalist to win the NL award for the second straight season, joined by the Milwaukee Brewers‘ Craig Counsell and St. Louis CardinalsMike Shildt.

Rookies of the Year will be announced on November 11, followed by Managers of the Year on November 12. Cy Young winners will be announced on November 13, and MVPs on November 14.

New York Yankees Slugger Giancarlo Stanton Hoping to Get Back on the Field by September

Giancarlo Stantonis hoping to fine tune his powerful swing for October…

Sidelined nearly all season, the 29-year-old part-Puerto Rican professional baseball player and New York Yankees slugger is hitting indoors and throwing as he rehabs from a sprained right knee that’s been slow to heal since he got hurt on June 25. 

Giancarlo Stanton

The next step will be jogging and running outside before ramping up baseball activities.

General manager Brian Cashman originally targeted August but now says the American League East leaders hope to get Stanton back sometime in September.

“Once I start moving around, just see how it bounces back. But I do want to have a few weeks of at-bats before October, for sure,” Stanton said. “I want to be out there for a couple weeks, just the game routine and having whatever amount of at-bats I can.”

The 2017 National League MVP said he’s confident he’ll return to health this season but has no particular date in mind.

“I’m doing everything I can to get there, so that’s what this process is and that’s what I’m working for,” the 29-year-old said.

“The deadline is when my knee is ready to play major league games,” Stanton added. “So if something happens to that, then I can always get at-bats, non-big league at-bats, but by close to big league pitching, to catch me up if need be. But that is the deadline — not any rush past when my knee is ready.”

Stanton strained his left biceps March 31 in his third game of the season, strained a shoulder and calf during his rehabilitation and returned June 18. He quickly went down again and is batting .290 with one home run and seven RBIs in nine games this year.

The outfielder and designated hitter was transferred to the 60-day injured list Sunday.

“It’s been brutal on my side, but it’s been really good to see the team playing so well. I mean, that’s what’s really kept it not so bad for me is just to watch everyone bringing together wins in all different type of ways, not one hero every night,” Stanton said. “That’s what I’ve been focusing on. Not poor me, all this stuff. I’m just watching how good we’ve been playing and just, what strategy for me to come file in. Not to just be back playing, but to get another little boost to what we’ve already been doing really well.”

Jose Ramirez to be Part of Cleveland Indians’ Opening Day Lineup

Jose Ramirez should be in the game on Opening Day…

The 26-year-old Dominican professional baseball third baseman is expected to be in the Cleveland Indians‘ opening day lineup Thursday, four days after fouling a pitch off the area below his left knee.

Jose Ramirez

Manager Terry Francona said that Ramirez should be ready to go for the opener against the Minnesota Twins. 

The MLB All-Starworked out Monday and Tuesday in Arizona, testing his bruised left knee while Cleveland finished its exhibition schedule with games against the Texas Rangers in the Lone Star State

Ramirez will join the team for a workout in Minnesota on Wednesday.

Ramirez left the field in a cart Sunday in a scary scene for the Indians, who will already be without shortstop Francisco Lindor and second baseman Jason Kipnis. Both players are working back from right calf strains.

Ramirez had 39 home runs and 105 RBI last season, finishing third in AL MVPvoting for the second straight year.

Josef Martinez Makes MLS History with His ‘Golden Trifecta’ 

Josef Martinez has etched his name into the annals of soccer history…

The 25-year-old Venezuelan professional footballer, a striker for the Major League Soccer club Atlanta United, has become the first player in MLS history to be named the MVP of the All-Star Game, season and MLS Cup.

Josef Martinez

Martinez capped the Golden Trifecta by being named the MVP of Saturday’s title game, a 2-0 win over Portland at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Martinez scored the opening goal and added an assist on Franco Escobar’s capping goal.

Martinez is the third player in MLS Cup history to score a goal and add an assist in the same final. He is the second player in MLS Cup history to score a goal in the final in the same year as winning the Golden Boot.

Martinez was named the league MVP after setting an MLS single-season scoring record with 31 goals during the regular season.  He added four more in the playoffs to set a league record for goals in a season.

He was named MVP of the All-Star game after scoring a goal against Juventus at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“I am most happy with the (MLS) Cup,” he said. “I think this team has had an incredible year, and I think we just have to appreciate the work of everyone this season, the players and coaching staff, because even though we had some ups and downs as a team, everyone on this team contributed something and made sacrifices. This is a win that we want to celebrate because it has been a long year and thank God also.”

Cheered on by the largest crowd in franchise history, United captured the crown in just its second season to set off a huge celebration in a city that has known so much sporting heartbreak. Owner Arthur Blank got to lift the trophy — less than two years after his other team, the NFL‘s Atlanta Falcons, squandered a 25-point lead in an epic Super Bowl collapse.