Alex Rodriguez Among 13 First-Timers on Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

Alex Rodriguez is getting his first chance…

The 46-year-old Dominican American former professional baseball shortstop and third baseman, businessman and philanthropist is among 13 first-time candidates on the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame ballot of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Alex RodriguezA-Rod, as he’s nicknamed, is joined by fellow first-timers David Ortiz, Ryan Howard, Tim Lincecum, Justin Morneau, Jimmy Rollins, Jake Peavy, Carl Crawford, Prince Fielder, Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon, A.J. Pierzynski and Mark Teixeira, the Hall and BBWAA said.

A-Rod and the first-timers join 17 holdovers.

Steroids-tainted stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens make their 10th and final appearance on the BBWAA ballot along with Curt Schilling, who fell 16 votes shy of the necessary 75% in last year’s balloting. Schilling appeared on 71.1% of ballots, Bonds 61.8% and Clemens 61.6%.

Holdovers include Bobby Abreu, Mark Buehrle, Todd Helton, Tim Hudson, Torii Hunter, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Andy Pettitte, Manny Ramirez, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa, Omar Vizquel and Billy Wagner.

Sosa also will be on the ballot for the final time after receiving 17% last year.

BBWAA members with 10 or more consecutive years of membership are eligible to vote. Ballots must be postmarked by December 31 and results will be announced Jan. 25.

Any players elected will be inducted into the Hall at Cooperstown on July 24 along with anyone elected by the Golden Days Era and Early Baseball Era committees, which are scheduled to meet on December 5.

No one was elected by the BBWAA in last year’s vote, and Schilling asked after the vote that the Hall remove him from the ballot.

“It’s all right, the game doesn’t owe me anything,” he said during a live video stream on his Twitter account.

Clemens has denied using performance-enhancing drugs and Bonds has denied knowingly using them. Bonds also has been accused of domestic violence and Clemens of maintaining a decade-long relationship with a singer who was 15 when they met.

Rodriguez was suspended for the 2014 season for violating MLB‘s drug policy and collective bargaining agreement, and Ortiz’s name was alleged to have appeared on a list of players who tested positive during 2003 survey testing.

Minnie Miñoso Among 10 Men Nominated by Golden Days Era Committee for MLB’s Hall of Fame

The late Orestes “Minnie” Miñoso is having a golden moment…

The late Cuban professional baseball player, who was known as “The Cuban Comet” and “Mr. White Sox,” is among the 10 men on the ballot of the Golden Days Era committee for baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Minnie MiñosoMiñoso, who died in March 2015, began his baseball career in the Negro leagues in 1946 and became an All-Star third baseman with the New York Cubans.

He was signed by the Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball (MLB) after the 1948 season as baseball’s color line fell. Miñoso went on to become an All-Star left fielder with the Indians and Chicago White Sox. The first Black Cuban in the major leagues and the first black player in White Sox history, as a 1951 rookie he was the one of the first Latin Americans to play in an MLB All-Star Game.

Minnie MiñosoMiñoso was an American League (AL) All-Star for seven seasons and a Gold Glove winner for three seasons when he was in his 30s.

In addition to Miñoso’s name, the Golden Days Era ballot also includes Gil Hodges, Roger Maris, Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Jim Kaat, 83-year-old Cuban former professional baseball right fielder, designated hitter and coach Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce and Maury Wills also are on the ballot along with former Pittsburgh manager Danny Murtaugh, the Hall said.

The vote by the 16-person committee, whose members will be announced later, is scheduled for December 5 at the winter meetings in Orlando, Florida. Its ballot considers players whose primary contributions were from 1950 to ’69.

A separate 16-person early baseball era committee also will meet to consider pre-1950 candidates. Its ballot includes seven players from the Negro Leagues: John Donaldson, Bud Fowler, Vic Harris, Grant “Home Run” Johnson, Buck O’Neil, Dick “Cannonball” Redding and George Scales.

They are joined by Bill Dahlen, Lefty O’Doul, Allie Reynolds and George Scales.

To gain election from either committee, a candidate must appear on at least 75% of ballots.

Anyone elected will be inducted in Cooperstown on July 24 along with any players elected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, whose balloting will be announced January 25.

First-time BBWAA ballot eligible players include David Ortiz, Ryan Howard, Tim Lincecum and Alex Rodriguez.

Steroids-tainted stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will be on the BBWAA ballot for the final time.

Hodges, an eight-time All-Star first baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers and manager of the 1969 World Series champion New York Mets, received 63.4% of the ballots in 1983, falling 44 votes shy of election in his final appearance on the BBWAA ballot.

Miñoso peaked at 20.9% in his second BBWAA ballot appearance in 1986. He got just 14.7% in his final appearance in 1999.

Maris, a two-time AL MVP who hit 61 home runs in 1961 to break Babe Ruth‘s single-season record, received 43.1% in his final BBWAA ballot appearance in 1988.

Candidates for the early-days balloting were picked by a special early baseball overview committee of five Negro Leagues historians — Gary Ashwill, Adrian Burgos Jr., Phil Dixon, Leslie Heaphy and Claire Smith — and five BBWAA members who have served on the Hall’s historical overview committee: Jim Henneman, Steve Hirdt, Rick Hummel, Jim Reeves and Glenn Schwarz.

Candidates for the golden era vote were selected by Henneman, Hirdt, Hummel, Reeves, Schwarz, Bob Elliott, Dave O’Brien, Jack O’Connell, Tracy Ringolsby, Susan Slusser and Mark Whicker.

The Today’s Game Committee (1988 to present) will consider candidates in December 2022 and the Modern Baseball Committee (1970-87) will meet in December 2023.

Nelson Cruz Receives Major League Baseball’s Roberto Clemente Award

Nelson Cruz is being celebrated for his charity…

The 41-year-old Dominican-American professional baseball designated hitter and right fielder for the Tampa Bay Rays has been awarded Major League Baseball‘s Roberto Clemente Award for his character, community involvement and philanthropy.

Nelson Cruz

Cruz, the 50th winner of the honor, received the award before World Series Game 2 on Wednesday night.

“Growing up as a Latin, you always heard about Roberto Clemente,” he said. “I never had a chance to see him play. I knew what a great player he was. Once I came to the States I found out, oh, he’s not only a good player, he’s a great human being.”

Cruz, a 17-year MLB veteran and seven-time MLB All-Star, provided financial support to 1,200 families in his hometown of Las Matas de Santa Cruz, Dominican Republic, during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping feed 700 families.

After a fire destroyed the home of a childhood friend, Cruz provided the town with a fire engine, 80 firefighter uniforms and an ambulance for transportation for people to the nearest hospital, which is about an hour away.

His Boomstick23 Foundation began construction of an education and technical center last year and he will stock the center with computers to assist athletes in their education.

Cruz also organizes dentists and optometrists to go the town’s clinic for checkups, medicine and eyewear, and 500 patients received dental services last year.

He helped arrange for MLB, the Major League Baseball Players Association and the union’s Players Trust to donate $400,000 to the Dominican Republic for medical equipment and food aid during the pandemic.

“We first started with the dental clinic, and the next year we started asking how we can do the mental [health] and the eye doctors,” he said. “We started doing everything all at the same time. We even went to schools and provided kids with all the books and stuff that they need.”

Cruz was nominated by the Minnesota Twins, who traded him to the Rays  in July. He joined Hall of Famers Rod Carew (1977), Dave Winfield (1994) and Kirby Puckett (1997) as Minnesota players to win the award.

Nikki Bella to Serve as a Judge on NBC’s “AGT: Extreme”

Nikki Bella is taking things to the Extreme

The 37-year-old half-Mexican American reality television personality, entrepreneur and retired professional wrestler, one half of The Bella Twins with her sister Brie Bella, will serve as a judge for NBC’s extreme version of America’s Got Talent.

Nikki Bella

In addition to Nikki Bella, the other judges for AGT: Extreme include Travis Pastrana and Simon Cowell.

Terry Crews, who is host of the main AGT series, will host.

Nikki Bella is a former WWE Hall of Famer, who is the star of E!’s reality series Total Bellas.

The series is set to launch midseason on NBC and is produced by Syco Entertainment and Fremantle.

It will showcase the most outrageous and jaw-dropping daredevil acts. Each week extreme contestants will go head-to-head in the most wild, wacky and craziest stunts to vie for the ultimate title.

Daddy Yankee to Be Inducted Into Hall of Fame at 2021 Billboard Latin Music Awards

Daddy Yankee is heading into the Hall (of Fame)

The 45-year-old Puerto Rican singer, songwriter and rapper, known as the “King of Reggaetón,” will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the 2021 Billboard Latin Music Awards, Billboard and Telemundo have announced.

Daddy Yankee

Given to artists who have achieved worldwide recognition for their work, transcending musical genres and languages, the accolade will honor the “Con Calma” hitmaker for his fruitful career that spans over three decades as a pioneer and top exponent of reggaeton.

Daddy Yankee will receive the award during the ceremony set to take place Thursday, September 23, live from Miami where he will also perform his latest hit “Métele al Perreo” for the first time on television.

The chart-topping, global star — known for reggaeton anthems such as “Gasolina” and “Dura” — has sold more than 17 million albums and placed 84 entries on the Hot Latin Songs chart, with seven of those hitting No. 1 and 36 landing in the top 10.

On the Latin Airplay chart, he has logged a total of 73 titles, including 24 No. 1s and 42 top 10s.

On the social front, his philanthropic work through “Daddy’s House” has been recognized by Billboard with the spirit of hope award.

Past recipients of the Billboard hall of fame award include José José, Vicente Fernández, Rocío Durcal, Marco Antonio Solís, Joan Sebastian, Marc Anthony, Franco de Vita and Alejandro Fernández, among others.

The Billboard Latin Music Awards will be broadcast live on Telemundo, kicking off at 7:00 p.m. ET with the traditional red carpet special, followed by the awards show at 8:00 pm.

Canelo Alvarez Nearing Deal to Fight Caleb Plant to Crown Undisputed Super Middleweight Champion

Canelo Alvarez is closing in on the biggest fight of his career…

The 31-year-old Mexican boxer is nearing a deal with Caleb Plant for a November fight that would crown an undisputed super middleweight champion, according to ESPN.

Canelo Alvarez

A fight between Alvarez and Plant was agreed to last month for September 18, sources said, and officials were simply awaiting signatures when the deal fell apart at the 11th hour.

After talks collapsed, Alvarez (56-1-2, 38 KOs) turned his attention to a 175-pound title fight with Dmitry Bivol. When that matchup couldn’t be finalized in time to stage the fight on Mexican Independence Day Weekend (Sept. 18), Canelo decided to delay his return until November.

Now boxing’s top star is deep in talks with PBC for a one-fight deal that would feature him on Fox PPV, sources said.

The prospect of a fight between Alvarez, ESPN‘s No. 1 pound-for-pound-boxer, and Plant, an undefeated 168-pound titleholder, was dead just two weeks ago. With Alvarez and PBC’s Al Haymon locked in a stalemate, Alvarez moved on to talks with Bivol. When the Mexican star decided to forgo Sept. 18 and instead fight in November, the possibility of Plant returned to the table.

It’s the fight Canelo wanted all along. After Alvarez stopped Billy Joe Saunders in Round 9 of their May fight, picking up his third 168-pound belt, he issued a message to Plant: “I’m coming, my friend.”

Becoming undisputed champion has long been Canelo’s goal, a feat he hasn’t accomplished despite a Hall of Fame résumé that includes titles in four weight classes. Alvarez was set to earn upward of $40 million guaranteed — a career best — in the proposed deal for Sept. 18.

Plant (21-0, 12 KOs) was slated to make $10 million-plus, also a career high. The original pact disintegrated, Plant told ESPN last month, over last-minute “ridiculous requests” from Team Alvarez.

“One that is absurd: If I get injured or sick, then he gets a late replacement for the same amount of guaranteed money, but if he gets sick or injured, then we gotta wait for him,” Plant, ESPN’s No. 3 super middleweight, said after the deal fell apart. “… His bark is bigger than his bite.

“We’ve been waiting for him to get done with his wedding, shooting his TV show, his golf tournament and now have tried to give him everything he wants and more to make this fight,” the Nashville native added. “I’m more than willing, able and ready to fight Canelo Alvarez on any date.”

Those issues could be ironed out now, it appears. This is the third consecutive year Alvarez won’t fight on the coveted September date, a holiday he starred on against bitter rival Gennadiy Golovkin in 2017 and ’18. Another drawn-out negotiation in 2019 forced Alvarez to instead fight in November, a KO victory over Sergey Kovalev.

If he can strike a deal with PBC, it will mark Alvarez’s return to pay-per-view, a platform he has headlined nine times since his fight with Shane Mosley in 2012. Those bouts included a megafight with Floyd Mayweather in 2013 and a pair of matchups with GGG.

Alvarez signed a landmark 11-fight, $365 million deal with DAZN after the GGG rematch, but following four fights, he sued his then-promoter, Golden Boy, along with the streaming platform. After the lawsuit was settled, Alvarez remained with DAZN for a December 2020 win over Callum Smith, then linked up with Matchroom‘s Eddie Hearn on a two-fight deal. The contract for that partnership expired after the Saunders win, opening the door for Alvarez to seek a one-fight deal with Haymon’s team and a chance at undisputed status.

Canelo and Plant were training to fight each other when talks came to an abrupt halt — Alvarez at his San Diego gym and Plant in Las Vegas. This time, the hard work in the gym might lead to what they both want: a showdown for super middleweight supremacy.

New Jersey Turnpike Authority to Name Rest Stop After the Late Celia Cruz

There’s a little rest (stop) for Celia Cruz’s biggest fans…

The late Cuban musician, who died in 2003 in her Fort Lee, New Jersey home at the age of 77, is one of several of New Jersey’s most iconic figures getting their names on a Garden State Parkway rest stops.

Celia Cruz

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority approved naming nine Parkway service areas after luminaries, including Cruz, one of the most popular Latin artists of the 20th century.

Others getting their name on a rest stop include groundbreaking baseball player Larry Doby, rocker Jon Bon Jovi and late actor James Gandolfini.

It’s being done in conjunction with the New Jersey Hall of Fame, which has inducted more than 180 people since 2008 in fields such as science, sports and the arts.

The service areas will contain Hard Rock Cafe-style exhibits and artifacts, and an interactive Wall of Fame featuring a life-sized video monitor showcasing Hall of Fame inductees and their acceptance speeches, according to Gov. Phil Murphy’s office.

Murphy said it’s part of a larger effort to showcase local heroes in a variety of fields at locations around the state, including Battleship New Jersey, the New Jersey Turnpike and Newark Penn Station.

In addition to Cruz, Gandolfini, Doby and Bon Jovi, service areas will be named after broadcast journalist Connie Chung; Grammy-winning singer Whitney Houston; Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison; author Judy Blume; and perhaps New Jersey’s most famous native son, Frank Sinatra.

Dereck Rodriguez Agrees to Minor League Deal with Colorado Rockies 

Dereck Rodriguez has a new deal…

The 28-year-old Puerto Rican baseball pitcher, the son of MLB Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez, has signed a minor league contract with the Colorado Rockies that includes an invitation to spring training.

Dereck Rodriguez

Rodriguez appeared in 51 games over three seasons with the San Francisco Giants. He compiled a 12-15 record with a 4.27 ERA before being designated for assignment by the Giants on August 26. He was claimed five days later off waivers by the Detroit Tigers before recently becoming a free agent.

Rodriguez made his major league debut at Coors Field on May 29, 2018. He allowed four runs, one earned, over 3⅓ innings. He also had an RBI double off Kyle Freeland.

Rodriguez was originally a sixth-round pick by the Minnesota Twins in 2011.

Jennifer Lopez & Alex Rodriguez Add Sports Star Power in Bid to Purchase the New York Mets

Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez aren’t giving up their Mets quest…

The 50-year-old Puerto Rican superstar and the 44-year-old Dominican American former-baseball-player-turned-sports-commentator aren’t giving up on their bid to purchase the New York Mets from the Wilpon family. 

Jennifer Lopez & Alex Rodriguez

After the pair reportedly teamed up with billionaire Mike Repole in an ownership group, they’ve now added a group of investors that includes some other big names. 

Per ESPN, Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher, 2020 Super Bowl champion Travis Kelce, ex-NFL star DeMarco Murray, former Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Joe Thomas,Washington Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal and Denver Nuggets center Mason Plumlee are all joining the celebrity couple’s bid.

“We couldn’t be more excited to have such high-quality individuals as part of our group,” Lopez and Rodriguez told ESPN on Monday.

The Wilpons have been looking to sell the Mets for months now, but a deal hasn’t been reached despite some interest. 

The Wilpons originally had an agreement in place to sell the team to hedge fund investor and billionaire Steve Cohenwhile remaining in control of the club for another five years, but that deal fell apart.

Recently, it was reported that Cohen delivered the family an offer for $2 billion, and was willing to offer an additional $2 billion to also acquire SportsNet New York (SNY). The Wilpons have reportedly been reluctant to give up SNY. However, it now appears the television network would now be included in a potential sale, indicating the Wilpons are more serious about a deal.

The group headed by Lopez and Rodriguez reportedly submitted an initial bid of $1.7 billion. The former New York Yankees slugger and Bronx-born pop star have reportedly put $300 million of their own money toward the bid. 

The Wilpons will review all of the bids, and work with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to determine the next steps in the process. Whoever does end up taking home the Queens-based franchise will need to their purchase to be approved by 75 percent of MLB owners.

The Wilpons reportedly hope to close a deal by the fall and gain Major League Baseball approval for the new owners before the end of the year.

Jaime Munguia Defeats Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan in Middleweight Debut

Jaime Munguiais celebrating a positive step up…

The 23-year-old Mexican boxer and former WBO junior middleweight titlist made a successful debut at middleweight by defeating Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan with an 11th-round TKO at the Alamodome in San Antonio on Saturday night.

Jaime Munguia

While he was able to dominate the late stage of the contest, there were certainly some rough moments for Munguia (35-0, 28 KOs), who, after a quick start in the opening two rounds, was clipped on the chin by a right hand from O’Sullivan that dazed him at the very end of the third.

It took a few rounds for Munguia to truly steady himself, but as he got back to establishing his long, quick jab and focusing more on throwing fast punches, instead of hard ones, the 23-year-old was able to regain full control of the bout. In the seventh round, a low blow sent O’Sullivan to the canvas, and Munguia was deducted a point by referee Mark Calo-oy. But that didn’t dissuade Munguia from consistently attacking the body and then mixing up his attack up top.

“I was confused whether to attack or not, but thanks to my corner, I think I did better at 160,” said Munguia. “I feel like I wore down less ’cause of the weight cut. I felt I threw more punches, more combinations, and it made the difference.”

Give credit to O’Sullivan: Although he was hurt in several rounds, he landed more than his share of punches on Munguia, who left more than a few openings with his hell-bent for leather style. O’Sullivan was staggered in the 10th, and then finally, as he was swarmed by the two-fisted attack of Munguia, he crumbled to the canvas just as the towel was being thrown in by his corner.

Munguia finished with a flourish, but he showed that he is still very much a work-in-progress under the direction of Hall of FameErik Morales, who has trained him for the past two fights. Their first outing together was back in September when he halted Patrick Alloteyin four rounds.

It seems as though Morales has made some progress with his young pupil. Yet, there is still plenty more to be learned.

When asked how he would assess his own performance, Munguia said, “I would give myself an eight or nine. I had to do some more things but will take this fight by fight.”