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American League MVP award debate continues

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Both Shohei Ohtani (Angels) and Aaron Judge (Yankees) have claims to the American League MVP award

Both Shohei Ohtani and Aaron Judge have claims to the American League MVP award
Illustration: Getty Images

The American League MVP race is a two-horse race between the Yankees’ Aaron Judge and the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani. Depending on who you ask, the award could go to either person. However, the adamancy of Ohtani fans is far greater than that of the fans backing Judge.

While the consensus among Judge backers seems to be “Sure, Ohtani can hit and pitch, but I believe Judge should win the MVP,” the Ohtani defense seems to lie more along the lines of “If you don’t vote for Ohtani, you should be banned from having an opinion on baseball forever” or “If he was the unanimous MVP last season, any season even close to 2021 should result in an MVP for Ohtani as well.” Obviously, those are hyperboles, but neither is too far off from reality. Like, geez folks, calm down.

Personally, I have Ohtani above Judge in my MVP rankings, not that that matters at all, but it just goes to show that I’m not trying to be a unique snowflake or play devil’s advocate. The fact of the matter is that both Judge and Ohtani are having insane, historic seasons and both should be given MVP recognition. However, denying one of these players’ greatness only makes your side of the aisle look insecure. Refusing to give anyone with an opposing viewpoint the light of day and claiming that they just “don’t know baseball,” can only harm your candidate’s MVP case.

We know that the BBWAA can be very biased. Different reporters from different areas of the country tend to be more lenient to their own players and their award candidacies. However, other factors can play a role as well: Rivalries, public perception, public outcry, and personal biases. For me, I love plate discipline. I have also always hated Bryce Harper (don’t ask why). Hence, had I had a vote in last year’s National League MVP race, I would’ve put Juan Soto in first place.

In essence, the public’s attachment to Shohei Ohtani is well-deserved. He’s the best baseball player on the planet in my eyes and he’s doing things nobody alive has ever seen. However, dismissing Judge entirely will only push the people that are on the fence about him. It’s like any argument. It’s human nature to side with the argument that seems more rational, and the narrative of “if you don’t believe this, you shouldn’t be allowed to have an opinion” is not only harsh, but unfair, and will push people still trying to decide toward your opposition purely out of spite.

I understand that other factors may be at play too. Old school voters love team success. Seeing as how the Angels have already been eliminated from playoff contention, that will probably hurt Ohtani’s chances immensely. The fact that Judge plays on the Yankees will also be a factor. He’s putting together one of the greatest offensive seasons ever (he’s solid defensively and on the basepaths, too) in the biggest market in America. He’s center stage for the entire nation to see basically every night and has a lot of drama surrounding him regarding his upcoming free agency. That makes him marketable. That makes him eye-popping and intriguing. He also has never won an MVP before, and voters tend to shy away from people who’ve already amassed incredible success and award recognition as Ohtani has.

Essentially, as one-sided as it may seem to some people, the voting will be close, really close. As an Ohtani backer myself, I implore anyone who wants to dismiss Judge’s 60 home runs to reconsider for Ohtani’s sake. Blame Yankee Stadium for its dimensions all you want, but Judge is having a historic season. Recognize that, and if the voters do wind up choosing Judge, walk away with grace. Ohtani’s skillset will make him an MVP candidate every year. Judge will not hit 60 home runs every season, especially if he leaves the Yankees this offseason. He’ll be back, and he’ll likely earn several more MVP awards by the end of his career.



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Chelsea boss Emma Hayes demands change as ‘mental’ calendar sets up stop-start WSL season

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C

helsea boss Emma Hayes has warned that the current international calendar in women’s football is putting player welfare at risk.

It is less than two months since England won Euro 2022 but players are already preparing for their second international break of the new season.

After the Euros in July, the final round of Women’s World Cup qualifiers took place in the first week of September. Clubs have played a maximum of three WSL matches and there is now another international break after this weekend’s round of League Cup games.

The WSL returns on October 15 for four rounds of matches before another break for international fixtures in November, when the Lionesses will face Japan and Norway in Spain as part of a training camp ahead of next year’s World Cup.

Former USA World Cup-winning coach Jill Ellis is working with FIFA on ways to improve the international calendar in the women’s game, and Hayes said: “It is good they are looking at the calendar because I do not think it is right for players, clubs or countries.

“It makes no sense that you are playing three games and then there is an international break, and three international breaks seems mental.

“Long-term, I know international breaks are being looked at and they absolutely have to because for player welfare I do not think it is healthy.”

Hayes was speaking after Chelsea came from behind to beat West Ham 3-1 in the WSL on Wednesday night.



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Cameron Norrie books place in Korea Open quarter-finals with win over Kaichi Uchida | Tennis News

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Cameron Norrie is through to the quarter-finals of the Korea Open after seeing off Kaichi Uchida 6-2 6-2.

The British No 1 took a little over an hour to see off Uchida in straight sets and progress into the last eight in Seoul.

Norrie, the No 2 seed for the tournament, now faces Jenson Brooksby in the quarter-finals as he aims for his third tournament win of the year.

America’s Brooksby overcame Korean No 1 Kwon Soon-woo in their last-16 meeting, triumphing 6-3 6-4 over the home favourite.

Norrie has already won the Delray Beach Open and Lyon Open so far this year, and the Wimbledon semi-finalist’s performances have seen him move into the top 10 in the ATP rankings for the first time.

The 27-year-old is now aiming for a strong finish to the season which would ensure he finishes in the top eight on the Race to Turin and qualifies for a place in November’s ATP World Finals.





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Marlins RP Richard Bleier called for 3 balks in 1 at-bat

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Richard Bleier takes...issues with being called for three balks.

Richard Bleier takes…issues with being called for three balks.
Image: Getty Images

Is Marlins’ reliever Richard Bleier the first Jewish pitcher to be called for a balk on Rosh Hashanah? I don’t know. What is a stone-cold fact is coming into Tuesday’s game against the Mets, Bleier had made 572 professional baseball appearances over the course of 15 years — never in his seven big league seasons. He had committed nine balks before facing Pete Alonso at Citi Field with two outs in the eighth inning. His career total after facing Alonso: 12.

Yup, he gained a third of his prior career total in one at-bat, with all three being called by the game’s first-base umpire John Tumpane. Bleier is a lefty, so the closest jump to his pitching hand would be Tumpane. What move did the 35-year-old use to blatantly deceive the hitter? He was deemed to have not fully stopped his pitching motion with the ball in his glove.

Bleier was confused and a tad upset the first time it happened. He’d just faced three batters with the exact same motion and no balk had been called. When Tumpane called a balk loud enough where the field mics picked it up two pitches later, Bleier was visibly upset. When it happened for a third time, Don Mattingly, willingly got ejected — as well as Bleier, who was perturbed as he couldn’t comprehend what he was doing wrong while Jeff McNeil scored without the ball reaching the outfield. After an infield single, there were three easy 90-foot trots to score him.

The inning ended with an Alonso groundout and the Marlins ended up winning the game by the exact scoreline that lit up the scoreboard after McNeil crossed the plate, 6-4. Bleier became the seventh pitcher to be called for a balk three times in the same inning and the first to do it since Jim Gott in 1988, per the Elias Sports Bureau. He’s the only pitcher to do it three times in the same at-bat since 1900.

Umpiring quartets and teams bump into each other all over MLB’s circuit, so it’s hard to believe Tumpane and friends hadn’t seen Bleier throw before. And if he made the same motion facing the first three batters of the eighth inning, was Tumpane not paying attention? These were the first three MLB walks for Bleier, who’ll also represent Team Israel at next year’s World Baseball Classic.

[email protected]: Capps’ hop-step delivery analyzed

Punishing Bleier for a unique delivery is atrocious and comical. Look at how former Mariner and Marlin Carter Capps pitches the ball, with a hop-step similar to a javelin thrower than pitcher. His foot leaves the rubber with the ball in his hand. He’s literally closer to the mound and has a better chance at a strikeout. Isn’t that an unfair advantage? And Capps committed a balk zero times in his 129 career MLB appearances. If Bleier hadn’t been called for a balk in his MLB career before Tuesday, he’s not the one that has to adjust. Tumpane needs to keep himself in check. 



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